As President-elect Trump assembles a cabinet and fills more 4,000 political appointments, Americans fidget in their seats waiting for him to “Make America Great Again.” At the very core of this populist mandate are Trump’s fiery campaign promises to fix international trade deals and treaties, like NATO. The U.S. gets the short end of the stick or pays the lion’s share far too often. Both the businessman billionaire, Donald Trump, and uber-left, Bernie Sanders, have railed against footing the bill for Europe’s military defense via NATO.
While NATO presents a complex set of pros and cons for America, with some members not paying their fair share, past and current administrations agree that America pays too much.
When Sanders decried America’s paying 75 percent of NATO, Politifact put out a headline that he “oversimplified” the costs and his statement was only “Half True.” The fact of the matter is that America pays 72 percent of NATO’s actual costs
By all accounts, NATO’s total spending amounts to about $900 billion. Last year, the U.S. kicked in $650 billion, all told. We’re talking about American boots on the ground, equipment, missile systems, etc.—what it really costs to secure Europe from a military invasion. But there’s also that slippery political way of looking at NATO costs.
The operating budget, excluding the practical defense measure such as American troops, comes to about $2 billion. The NATO treaty requires that each member pay 2 percent of its gross domestic product. In 2015, the U.S. contributed 3.6 of its GDP or 22 percent of the total budget. However, only four of the other 27 member nations met that obligation — Greece, U.K., Estonia, and Poland. Basically, 23 countries stiffed NATO and America.