One of the chief reasons that most European nations enjoy a higher standard of living and their residents annually express larger levels of collective happiness than people living in the United States is because of their commitment to spending on social wellness that exceeds their relative spending on military misadventure, weapons, and global empire.
But at the two-day NATO summit that kicked off in Brussels on Wednesday, President Donald Trump called on European leaders to follow the U.S. down its failed path of backwards priorities as he called on them to double their annual military spending, relative to Gross National Product, on the transatlantic alliance.
"Instead of worrying what other countries are spending on their militaries, the president should worry about the ways his own military wastes funds that could be used to solve problems at home." —Lindsay Koshgarian, National Priorities Project"President Trump, who spoke, raised the question not just to reach 2%, today, but set a new target - 4%. He just left after he announced that," Bulgarian president Rumen Radev told reporters, according to BNR public radio.
According to the Associated Press, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later confirmed Trump raised the idea of European members doubling their spending during a closed-door meeting with fellow NATO leaders.
In response, Lindsay Koshgarian, program director for the National Priorities Project which tracks Pentagon spending and its social implications, said that European leaders—and the people they represent—should be very wary about Trump's demand to increase military expenditures.
"Military spending for any country," Koshagarian said, "should be determined by two things: real national security needs, and curbing waste and profit motives that drive military spending up without making us safer."
The size of a nation's particular GDP is irrelevant, she argued, and warned Europe that following the wasteful habits that Trump has embraced in the U.S. could be a recipe for disaster. "The United States has wasted $5.6 trillion on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with nothing to show for it," she said. "And, wasteful military spending is rampant, like the $125 billion in unnecessary bureaucracy at the Pentagon. Instead of worrying what other countries are spending on their militaries, the president should worry about the ways his own military wastes funds that could be used to solve problems at home."
Meanwhile, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) was among those questioning whether or not Trump actually understands the basis of the NATO alliance or how it works:
While Trump has been making a habit—and a spectacle—of calling out NATO members for not living up to their commitment to the alliance in terms of military spending, it's not at all clear the serial liar and "not a smart man" has his facts straight.
As NBC News' Peter Alexander points out, "Even the US doesn't spend 4%. According to the most recent estimates from NATO, the US spent 3.57% of its GDP last year."