- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 7, 2019

Germany’ defense minister acknowledged Thursday that the country will miss a 2024 NATO deadline to devote at least 2% of its GDP to the military, despite heavy criticism from President Trump that European allies are not contributing enough to the common defense.

Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said Wednesday Germany will only be able to spend about 1.5% of GDP by 2024 and hopes to meet the mark by 2031, seven years late. She spoke just a month before a major summit of NATO allies set for Dec. 4.

The U.S. spends about 3.2 percent of GDP annually on defense, but just six other NATO countries meet the 2% threshold. NATO leaders had set a 2024 date for all members to meet that level and Mr. Trump has complained repeatedly that Germany, with the biggest economy in Europe, and other allies are falling far short of their pledges.

Germany now spends about 1.2% of its GDP on defense, and its current fiscal plan foresees defense spending remaining roughly level over the next four years.

“We need to spend 1.5% by 2024 and 2% by 2031 at the latest,” Ms. Kramp-Karrenbauer, a close ally of outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel, told a NATO event Wednesday, according to the Reuters news service.

The revelation comes amid rising tensions within the NATO alliance, exacerbated by President Trump’s announcment last month he was pulling U.S. forces out of Syria without alerting key European allies.

Mr. Trump’s publicly expressed doubts about the value of the NATO alliance have sparked a re-thinking in Europe as well, French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday.

“What we are witnessing is the brain death of NATO,” Mr. Macron told The Economist magazine in an interview Thursday.

NATO “only works if the guarantor of last resort functions as such,” Mr. Macron said. “I’d argue that we should reassess the reality of what NATO is in the light of the commitment of the United States.”

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