keywords: pentagon, president trump, nato, military ambition, europe of defense.
President Trump announces today a significant increase of nearly 10% in the budget of the national defense (Pentagon) which leaves the whole world puzzled. While he seemed to want to reduce military spending (see the pressure he put on US military equipment manufacturers with a series of tweets in order to lower the prices) he now takes the opposite side. An increase of such importance is not surprising in China for example, but it is well in the United States.
Facing rising risks of global conflicts and terrorism, it seems that most industrialized countries are drastically increasing their military budget, either in order to intervene abroad directly (France is good example), or in a preventive way to face the threat on its own soil.
A very small share of the national budget assigned to Defense.
The Grand Duchy devotes 80 million euros to the Defense budget, or 0.4% of its GDP, far from the more than 2% (and probably close to 3% in 2017) of its immediate neighbors such as France for example. With only 1,000 military personnel the Luxembourg army is in proportion to the population more than 4 times smaller than its neighbors.
An unclear government strategy.
The Grand-Duchy doesn’t spend enough in its military budget, and it is not new. With such a small budget it cannot have a strong and modern army. There are two possibilities then.
Either the army is suppressed and the authorities put the country under the umbrella of a great power, as Costa Rica has done for more than 60 years and the saved budget has been invested in economic development, or the country deserves a strong army and the budget has to be sized as it should be. With 22% share of public debt compared with its GDP, Luxembourg has the room for manoeuvre in order to invest in a quality army.
The advantages of a strong army.
A strong and modern army does not mean bellicose behavior with its neighbors. A strong army is above all a message sent to the other countries, a message of peace.
A strong army is also an internal communication tool, a source of pride for the people, a people proud of the fact that this army can intervene in pacification operations, and there are many opportunities to pacify international relations nowadays.
International risks are rising. The Europe of Defense is stalled. The future of NATO is uncertain and at the same time the 2017 budget of US Defense is rising sharply. Facing these challenges it is high time that the Grand-Duchy develops a clear National Defense strategy.
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