Mr. Trump raised alarm during the election campaign when he questioned whether the United States would automatically defend NATO allies if they were attacked. Mr. Trump said American support would depend on the willingness of those countries to pay their fair share for military protection.
He has also called NATO “obsolete” and said that the alliance was failing to fight terrorism.
Those allies not willing to pay for American military protection, he warned, could receive a stark message: “Congratulations, you will be defending yourself.”
There have been calls for Europe to offset its dependence on American defense have been intensifying since Mr. Trump’s election. In an interview with Reuters this week, Roderich Kiesewetter, a spokesman on foreign policy for Ms. Merkel’s conservative bloc in the German Parliament, said that Europe needed to think about developing its own nuclear deterrent strategy, given the possibility of a retrenchment under Mr. Trump.
Mr. Kiesewetter said that Germany, the largest economy in the 28-member European Union, could play a central role in urging nuclear powers like Britain and France to take over from the United States in providing nuclear security guarantees for the rest of the region.
The UK meets its 2% commitment. The UK defense minister is trying to use the election of Trump to get more movement from other countries to raise their military capabilities.
Europeans underestimate the political significance of 2 percent in the U.S. debate over security commitments to Europe.
Americans overestimate the political significance of 2 percent among Europeans struggling with austerity and divergent threat perceptions, which make it difficult to increase their defense commitments.
Europe will be forced to step up its defense capabilities in the future if it wants to deal with the myriad threats in its neighborhood. This includes more and smarter defense spending, more defense cooperation, more shared threat assessments, and more leadership by hitherto reluctant nations.