NATO leaders are praising a commitment from heads of state to spend 2 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) on defense, a guideline long ignored by many alliance members.
The agreement “is really a change” and shows “we have turned a corner” when it comes to defense budget commitments, outgoing Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Friday, at the conclusion of the NATO summit here.
But experts are skeptical that the agreement will change much in the short term as the alliance historically has not been able to convince members to boost defense spending levels.
“It’s not going to happen across the entire alliance, but it’s useful for framing incentives for some nations to start to contribute more,” said Barry Pavel, vice president and director of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council.
It is more important now for nations other than the US to contribute to NATO, particularly since the American military’s requirements are increasing at a time when its capacity decreasing, Pavel said.
“I think there needs to be somewhat of a new trans-Atlantic bargain struck because with threats multiplying, with the world spinning faster, with Asia and the Middle East also extremely fragile and full of unpredictable security challenges, I don’t think we can afford anymore for the US to be so predominant,” he said.
But Rasmussen said having the agreement from heads of state and a time line are substantial progress. He also said that the security environment in Europe, particularly Russia aggression in and around Eastern Ukraine, has served as a “wake-up call” for the alliance.