Obama won’t cut U.S. support to NATO- though everyone agrees Europeans must pay their fair share. Mitt Romney attacks him for it
Ever wonder why it’s difficult to cut the defense budget? This week’s NATO summit — which took place amid free-flying accusations by Mitt Romney that President Barack Obama has undercut the U.S. commitment to the military alliance — provides us with yet another sterling though under-examined example.
As NATO leaders were gathering in Chicago over the weekend, the Romney campaign offered a statement that pilloried Obama for a failure of stewardship as NATO’s biggest contributor. “NATO’s success requires strong American leadership,” said Romney. “It also requires its member states to carry their own weight. Unfortunately, the Obama administration has taken actions that will only undermine the alliance. The U.S. military is facing nearly $1 trillion in cuts over the next ten years. And President Obama has sent the message — intentionally or not — that the worth of NATO has diminished in America’s eyes. At this moment of both opportunities and perils, the NATO alliance must retain the capacity to act.”
Now there’s a lot to unpack here. Thankfully, Romney was nice enough to extrapolate on his argument in an op-ed for the Chicago Tribune, in which he complained that only three of the 28 NATO member nations are meeting their agreed-upon pledge to spend at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense (the United States currently spends just under 5 percent of its GDP on defense). But apparently this isn’t what he was referring to when he bemoaned the failure of member states to “carry their own weight.” Rather, he was pointing the finger at the United States and specifically Obama (but not the Republican-led Congress, of course, which held a proverbial gun to the president’s head during last year’s debt limit crisis and forced those trillion dollars in defense cuts on him and the nation). According to Romney, “While military underinvestment is an old problem for NATO, a lack of American leadership on the issue is an alarming new development.”
And the solution to this problem, wait for it … is to spend more U.S. taxpayer dollars on defense.