The majority of the countries in NATO do not pay their share and that has become a sore point of contention with the U.S.
Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders used the presidential debate on Thursday to call upon other members of NATO to spend additional money on defense.
Donald Trump, a Republican presidential candidate for his party’s nomination, has gone further by saying the United States should rethink the involvement it has in this military alliance since it costs so much money.
Many members from Europe including the big economies such as Germany and France spend less than called for by the guidelines of NATO.
The U.S. spends far more on defense that any other country in the world. According to statistics from NATO, the U.S. spent $650 billion in 2015 on defense. That amount is more than double what all the other 27 countries in NATO spent amongst themselves, even though their combined GDP tops the second place U.S.
Military spending in the U.S. has eclipsed others budgets of allies since the founding of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1949.
However, that gap increased far wider when the U.S. increased its defense spending following the September 11, 2011 terrorist attacks
Even the offices of NATO admit there is an over reliance towards the U.S. for the provision of capabilities, including surveillance, reconnaissance, intelligence, ballistic missile defense, air to air refueling and airborne warfare using electronics.
The U.S. spends the highest proportion of the GDP on defense, which is 3.62%. The second largest spender in NATO is Greece.
NATO is based upon a principle of collective defense as an attack made against one or a number of its members are an attack against every member.
Thus far, that has been invoked just once in response to the attacks on 9/11.
For that principle to be successful, all the countries need to help out. The official guidelines of NATO say that member states should be spending a minimum of 2% of their GDP on defense.
Just five – U.S., Poland, Greece, the UK and Estonia – meet the target.