The “leader of the free world” has been sounding off again. Newsweek reports:
German Chancellor Angela Merkel lumped in the United States with Europe’s other global adversaries on Wednesday, arguing that the countries on the continent need to band together against the challenges posed by Russia, China and the U.S.
“There is no doubt that Europe needs to reposition itself in a changed world…. The old certainties of the postwar order no longer apply,” Merkel told the German media on Wednesday.
“They [China, Russia and the U.S.] are forcing us, time and again, to find common positions. That is often difficult given our different interests. But we do get this done—think, for example, of our policy regarding the conflict in Ukraine,” Merkel added. “Our policies on Africa, too, now follow a common strategy, which a few years ago would have been unthinkable. So we keep putting one foot in front of the other. However, our political power is not yet commensurate with our economic strength.”
The comments hinted at the fact that at least some European leaders no longer view the United States as primarily an ally of the European Union. Merkel, for example, pointed to the U.S. dominance of technology as a challenge for Europe…
We are currently hearing a lot about some of Europe’s rougher political parties, and not always without reason, but these comments from Merkel are also worth noting.
As a reminder, there’s this, via Politico (from March):
Defense spending by NATO’s European members hit a five-year high last year, as measured by a proportion of GDP, but still only six countries, plus the United States, met a U.S.-driven target of spending 2 percent of economic output on defense, according to the alliance’s latest annual report released Thursday.
Overall, European allies spent 1.51 percent of GDP on defense, with only Britain, Poland, Greece and the three “frontline” Baltic nations — Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia — hitting the 2 percent of GDP goal that is being pushed by U.S. President Donald Trump.
The NATO allies pledged five years ago to spend 2 percent of annual GDP on defense by 2024.
Germany, the wealthiest of the European allies, spent $50.2 billion on defense last year, an increase of more than $4.6 billion on 2017, but still only equal to 1.23 percent of its GDP, unchanged from the previous year….
Just how reliable an ally is Merkel’s Germany?