The Cabinet must renounce NATO’s defense spending requirements. Rather than allocating an extra 6 billion euros (approximately $6.3 billion) for defense and contributing to endless wars and the arms race, the Netherlands should instead invest in education and national security, argues Dutch House of Representatives member Sadet Karabulut of the Socialist Party.
In 2014, heads of state from the NATO countries agreed to significantly increase their defense spending. If Prime Minister Mark Rutte gets his way, our country will be required to contribute 2% of its gross domestic product spending by 2024. This commitment is unrealistic, yet the cabinet remains firmly committed to it.
NATO support has become an article of faith that the United States uses to extort us into supporting an ever growing war machine. NATO is facing a deep crisis; the American population is war weary, and tensions are growing in Europe. Thus, there are sufficient grounds for abandoning this defense spending requirement and moving forward.
The cabinet should renounce the 2% NATO commitment. Though Minister of Defense Ank Bijleveld is allocating extra funds for defense, funding will not even come close to meeting the 2% threshold. We have already dedicated 11 billion euros for next year (approximately $12.1 billion), and in order to satisfy NATO we would need to add an additional 6 billion euros (approximately $6.6 billion). But no established political parties favor this, let alone even consider it feasible. Not even Minister Bijleveld can make good on this.
Bijleveld Is Compromising Both Herself and Our Country
Minister Bijleveld will nevertheless bend over backward at the NATO summit in December in order to keep up appearances. She maintains that we will be able to meet the expected NATO contribution after next year’s reassessment of the defense budget.
By so doing, she is compromising both herself and our country. For what will happen with that extra money for new weapons? What will be done with the expensive fighter jets and submarines? They will be used to continue fighting in violent conflicts, even though the endless military ventures led by the U.S. and NATO in recent decades have been decidedly unsuccessful.
These endless wars have cost the West billions since 2001 and brought us the Islamic State and even more terrorist attacks. Millions of refugees have fled their home countries and are living under inhumane conditions along the European border. NATO’s intervention in Libya turned out to be a disaster. Tensions are exploding once again in Iraq, and the war in Afghanistan has brought us right back to where we started: negotiations with the Taliban. Jihadis in Syria are being supplied with weapons, equipment and logistical support. These same jihadis are now attacking Rojava, the autonomous, multi-ethnic and multi-religious province established by the Kurds. They are doing this in cooperation with NATO ally Turkey, which launched a hostile occupation of northeastern Syria following a telephone conversation with President Trump.
Must We Stay in Afghanistan for Another 18 Years? I Don’t Think So.
The new Cold War, a second important reason for the arms policy, is causing disruption in Europe and increasing tensions between Eastern and Western Europe. Virtually every meeting with the Russians fails, NATO has now built up troops along the Russian border and the treaty that has prevented cruise missiles from being installed in our country and elsewhere in Europe has been terminated.
There is an arms race underway. Both the U.S. and Russia are in the process of modernizing their nuclear weapons arsenals. A conflict between these major powers, whether with the use of new nuclear weapons or not, would have profound consequences for Europe. Not even a European intervention force could shield us from this.
Must we stay in Afghanistan for another 18 years? Must we continue to embrace the despot Recep Tayyip Erdogan and allow him to blackmail us? Must we purchase fighter jets and submarines for billions of dollars while our education system is depleted because of perpetual neglect, our police and gendarmerie are overburdened, jihadis may arrive at our doorstep at any moment and our homeland security forces are already strained? I don’t think so.