2014/11/13

NATO Summits and spending pledges

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"At the 2006 NATO summit, all members pledged to devote at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product to defense."

Strange. I see no such thing in the official Riga Summit Declaration.

"Leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will pledge at a summit here to lift their military spending to 2% of each country's gross domestic product over the next 10 years, according to three officials familiar with the negotiations over the summit communiqué."

He also mentioned it would be non-binding. Maybe I have a translation issue here; what exactly is a non-binding pledge??? Isn't it simply "nothing"?

Yet this time they actually wrote a (non-binding) commitment, a.k.a. nothing of relevance:

14.
We agree to reverse the trend of declining defence budgets, to make the most effective use of our funds and to further a more balanced sharing of costs and responsibilities. Our overall security and defence depend both on how much we spend and how we spend it. Increased investments should be directed towards meeting our capability priorities, and Allies also need to display the political will to provide required capabilities and deploy forces when they are needed. A strong defence industry across the Alliance, including a stronger defence industry in Europe and greater defence industrial cooperation within Europe and across the Atlantic, remains essential for delivering the required capabilities. NATO and EU efforts to strengthen defence capabilities are complementary. Taking current commitments into account, we are guided by the following considerations:
 
o Allies currently meeting the NATO guideline to spend a minimum of 2% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on defence will aim to continue to do so. Likewise, Allies spending more than 20% of their defence budgets on major equipment, including related Research & Development, will continue to do so.
 
o Allies whose current proportion of GDP spent on defence is below this level will:
halt any decline in defence expenditure;
    aim to increase defence expenditure in real terms as GDP grows;
    aim to move towards the 2% guideline within a decade    with a view to meeting their NATO Capability Targets and filling NATO's capability shortfalls.
 
o Allies who currently spend less than 20% of their annual defence spending on major new equipment, including related Research & Development, will aim, within a decade, to increase their annual investments to 20% or more of total defence expenditures.
 
o All Allies will:
    ensure that their land, air and maritime forces meet NATO agreed guidelines for deployability and sustainability and other agreed output metrics;
    ensure that their armed forces can operate together effectively, including through the implementation of agreed NATO standards and doctrines.


Repeated from Defence and Freedom, September 2014:

A common complaint is that somehow NATO requirements are not being met, or commitments to NATO cannot be met.
The correct answer to this is "So what? Who cares?"

A man needs to obey a minister's decree. More important is a more specific minister's decree. Both draw their power exclusively from the law (enacted by the legislative branch) which empowers the minister to issue the decrees in the first place. So laws are ranked higher than decrees. More specific laws rank even higher. Constitutional articles (created or modified by an even more demanding legislative effort) are more powerful. More specific constitutional articles overrule some others, though.

Now where's a minister's "commitment" in this ranking?
Nowhere. An elevator boy could have said it, and it would be as forceful.

Now remember that in all democracies the legislative branch holds the budget power. So even a "commitment" in shape of a law would be overridden by the next budget law, which includes the next Einzelplan 14.
(...)
The 'more military spending!' clique only pretends that such commitments hold power, since these play into their cards. And of course do ministers like to make promises, but then they cannot keep them because it's the legislative branch that holds the budget power. The ministers like to point out those fake commitments to the legislative branch, but again and again said legislative branch doesn't give a shit about fake commitments and dictates a modest military budget.

So even though we can read one of those semi-legendary pledges, we also know they're nothing of relevance; the executive branch pretends to have powers which actually a different branch of government holds, the legislative branch. That's as if a CEO would give a pledge concerning what his shareholders will do in the next years; irrelevant and ridiculous.

S O
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