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The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has been active for 70 years. 20 countries donate in order to keep the defense budget going. This defense budget then goes towards many areas such as to the construction of weapons of mass destruction. According to the International Law and Policy Institute, an international institute that studies conflicts, stated that, “the United States, the United Kingdom, and France possess approximately 7700, 225 and 300 nuclear weapons, respectively” (Eide). Altogether these three countries possess almost half of the estimated global nuclear weapons stocks, and a majority of the warheads that are currently in operation. Defense is a basic need for any organization, but with this abundance amount high costs come into play.
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As of 2016, NATO reported that they spent an estimated three million dollars on equipment which includes missiles, fighter bombs, etc (NATO). The defense budget primarily goes towards weapons of mass destruction which include bombs, nuclear weapons, etc rather than military. The overuse and overproduction of these items strain not only the member countries, but NATO as a whole. Therefore, NATO should handle weapons of mass destruction by reducing the amount produced. NATO’s Economic Perspective: United StatesWithout a doubt, the United States of America spends the most on military out of all the countries in the world. In 2010 alone, the United States spent nearly an estimated 5.5 percent of their GDP towards NATO according to NATO themselves. This was significantly higher than the other nineteen countries with Greece coming in second with three percent of their GDP (NATO). Philip Breedlove, a writer for Foreign Affairs stated in 2016 that, “With a budget of $985 million in fiscal year 2015 and an additional $789 million in fiscal year 2016, the initiative has funded new bilateral and multilateral military exercises and greater deployments of U.S. forces to the continent, supported by the placement of more U.S. military equipment, including artillery, tanks, and other armored fighting vehicles, in central and Eastern Europe” (Breedlove).This was in response to Russia’s growing movement as they were expanding their powers after the annexation of Crimea.
A large portion of the money that is going to defense ends up being used for weapons of mass destruction. The US also faces their own economic problems. Economic problems in turn affect militaristic aspects as Breedlove also states, “compulsory budgets cuts in the United States limit the Department of Defense’s ability to plan for the future… The U.S. defense budget has declined in real terms since 2010” (Breedlove). Weapons of mass destruction are costly as they have to be continuously manufactured. Already the U.S. is seeing a decline in the overall defense spending, decreasing from 330 million in 1990 to 303 million as of 2011 (Breedlove). Therefore, for them to continue to put their money into NATO highlights the country’s own economic problems. The United States will continue to substantially invest more money than others towards NATO defense budget as well as lose their own budget at the same time. The United States’ budget also serves their military as well as employs jobs for others but the overall budget continues to fall.
Thus, funding NATO is becoming a struggle as months progress, leading to instability within the organization so reducing weapons of mass destruction would serve a greater benefit to members like the United States. NATO Economic Perspective: United Kingdom Aside from the U.S, another power within NATO is the United Kingdom. Like the United States, they also face their own series of economic problems that directly affect NATO. This is further explained by Dorman and his fellow colleagues who are political scientists for Lithuania’s Defense Program state, “During 2015, Prime Minister Cameron found himself under intense domestic and international pressure over is reluctance to maintain defense spending at the NATO target of 2% GDP” (Dorman).
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The United Kingdom is not the only country to fail the target of two percent as countries such as France, Turkey, and Norway have as well according Peter Baker, a journalist for the New York Times newspaper. Overall, the United Kingdom has faced several hits in their economy.The article continues to state that in 2010, the Coalition government cut the defence budget by approximately 7.5% (Dorman). They have also suffered from the finance curse with great recession and a growing inequality in spending is leading to a strain on resources which was explained Christensen, a writer for the British Journal of Politics & International Relations, which discusses several aspects of Britain and their economy and government. Because of this, the United Kingdom isn’t able to fulfill not only their basic needs, but also the input for NATO. Due to the fact that NATO puts their defense towards the manufacturing it not only creates unattainable obligations for certain countries to meet this spending requirement, but also the funding could be put elsewhere. The United Kingdom only uses about 56,000 dollars worth of defense budget from NATO as of 2016 compared to 644,000 dollars from the US (NATO). Instead of spending money on weapons of mass destruction, NATO could also put that same spending towards sanctioning troops, securing borders, funding military workers, etc which can cause better growth and less hold on each member. NATO Economic Perspective: Lithuania Although countries like the United States and the United Kingdom don’t see a blaring need for weapons of mass destruction, countries in the Baltic States such as Lithuanian see a great need for them. According to the Baltic Security and Defense Review, which is closely aligned with Lithuania and their defense, “Lithuania supports the development of NATO defense capabilities, specifically those, which are launched to establish and maintain common assets” (Defense Policy of Lithuania). Lithuania, like the United Kingdom, does not meet the budget requirement as they only spend barely one percent of their GDP towards NATO (NATO).
However, due to the annexation of Crimea and Russia’s growing threat towards the Baltic countries, Lithuania needs weapons of mass destruction as protection. The article also states that, “ Lithuania keeps stressing that the collective defense commitment is the first and foremost principle of NATO” (Defense Policy of Lithuania). Lithuania cannot manufacture weapons at the fast rate that NATO does, as NATO had an estimated 150-200 Fighter Bombs in 2014 alone according to Dr. Robert Czulda, an assistant professor at the University of Lithuania. Weapons of mass destruction protect Lithuania from any invasion or attack from Russia, and NATO getting rid of them only makes Lithuania more vulnerable. Russia is dedicated to nuclear advancement programs for the next decade, so in order for Lithuania and many other allies to be safe, weapons of mass destruction are a must. Lithuania spends only around 638 million dollars towards their military, but after adding all the costs of missiles, fighter planes, and other weapons, it is still not enough for them to be protected (NATO). NATO should then keep handle weapons of mass destruction for countries like Lithuania to be safe by supplying them with more dense, rather than oversupplying countries such as the United States or the United Kingdom. The Limitations of Eliminating Weapons of Mass DestructionWhen looking at ending the use of nuclear weapons, the limitations must also be accounted for and taken into consideration.
Nuclear weapons are growing throughout our world especially in areas such as Russia and China. To get rid of weapons of mass destruction would sever a detrimental loss to NATO as producing weapons of mass destruction provides safety for countries.
The fact of the matter is is that eliminating weapons of mass destruction altogether would be a very daunting task to do as well as very hard to manage. The United States holds about 1,550 warheads and nearly 700 launchers according to Stephen Cimbala, a journalist for the Journal of Slavic Military studies. “Belgium holds around 20 fighter bombs alone” (Czulada). Without NATO’s assistance, Belgium can’t stand on its own leg which is applicable to several other countries such as Luxemburg, Slavia,etc. By eliminating weapons of mass destruction, we would be putting each country in more economic debt. Manufacturing weapons of mass destruction cost hundreds of millions and much more, so by eliminating them it will not only lose jobs, but also lose overall money.
The RecommendationAfter taking into consideration all economic aspects from several members of NATO, it is recommended that NATO pulls the use of nuclear weapons. Most of the spending towards NATO’s budget comes from the US which then puts a strain on not only them, but European countries as well. Weapons of mass destruction do in fact give jobs to many in manufacturing; however, nuclear weapons are not a necessity for NATO as a whole, for they can work on enlisting their ideals and policies without the obtainment of nuclear weapons. It is necessary that NATO’s DDPC reanalyze their defense spending budget, amend their article, and decrease their defense expenditure significantly.
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