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NATO ally Germany urged by U.S. to up its military spending



Trump has also repeatedly made statements misrepresenting how NATO funding works. In March 2017, he said Germany owed “vast sums of money” to the alliance and to the U.S. In fact, most of the funds spent by NATO allies go toward strengthening their own militaries rather than to a central pot.

However, many Western analysts agree that Trump has a point: Germany has a powerful and healthy economy and therefore should commit to spending more of its defense budget.

Furthermore, this president is not the first to voice these concerns. Officials in the administration of President Barack Obama, most notably former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, strongly urged Germany and others to spend more on their militaries.

“There are few defense professionals in Europe who dispute that Germany currently contributes far less than its share on defense within NATO,” said Justin Bronk, a research fellow at the London-based Royal United Services Institute think tank.

Germany spends proportionally less on its military than countries like Portugal, Bulgaria and Norway. The reasons are complex and relate to both the country’s Nazi legacy from World War II and also its modern-day economic success.

Germany was demilitarized in 1945 and only began rebuilding slowly when West Germany joined NATO a decade later. The blot in its timeline still leaves a mark, according to Ulrike Esther Franke, a Berlin-based policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

“I don’t think outside of Germany people realize to what extent the German public remains pacifist — the military really isn’t something that most people care much about,” Franke said.

Germany has also relied on the so-called security umbrella from the U.S., which still has around 34,000 troops in the country today.

“The Cold War was over and there really was no need to spend much on defense and security,” Franke added. “Many European countries, but especially Germany, just felt that they could get away with it.”

NATO’s forecourt sculpture, which is also known as the”‘NATO Star,” is outside the bloc’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.Emmanuel Dunand / AFP – Getty Images

Another factor is the sheer size and success of the German economy.

The country has the fourth-largest economy in the world, behind the U.S., China, and Japan, and this means that 2 percent of Berlin’s money pie adds up to a huge amount of cash.

In real terms, Germany spent about as much as France on its military last year — but because its economy is larger, this was a smaller percentage of its GDP.

“Germany is with France and the U.K. — these are the three big spenders,” said Josef Janning, a senior policy fellow also at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

“I like to say that one of the problems the Germans had is the GDP is too high,” he added with a laugh.

For Germany to meet the 2 percent requirement, it would need to almost double its defense spending from 37 billion euros ($45 billion) to 70 million euros ($85 billion), according to Janning.

“This would be the largest defense budget in all of Europe. I think even larger than Russia,” he added.

The newly formed German coalition government, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, has agreed to increase defense spending by 5.4 billion euros ($6.6 billion) by 2021, and acknowledges it needs to modernize its ageing equipment.

An internal list from the German defense ministry, described by the department as a “living document,” has been obtained by NBC News and details a shopping list of helicopters, transport planes, rocket launchers and, crucially for the pacifist country, what would be Germany’s first armed drone, the Israeli-developed Heron-TP.

But few expect Germany to meet NATO’s spending target by 2024.

An increase of this size would be practically impossible in a short space of time, experts say. Even if it ever did happen, there are concerns about other knock-on effects.

“Germany would quickly become the dominant military as well as economic power in Europe,” according to Bronk at RUSI, “and that is something German politicians view as potentially destabilizing and unwise.”

Some question to what extent Trump’s overtures are actually helping.

Only 11 percent of Germans said they had confidence in the U.S. president to do the right thing on world affairs, according to a study by the Pew Research Center last year.

“I’m honestly not entirely sure whether this pressure from Trump is helping now,” Franke said. “I would even argue that Trump to some extent is undermining that, because there are many politicians in Germany that really do not want to create the impression that they are caving to his demands.”

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Laura Kuennsberg sounds UK-US warning – Boris hoping for 'dependable friend'



BBC Laura Kuenssberg has explained Boris Johnson is hoping to find a “dependable friend” in Joe Biden as he officially became the US President on Wednesday.

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On Inauguration Day, Kamala Harris gives America’s boys (and girls) a new role model



My son was 2 when I cried my way through the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump. He was blissfully unaware of the protests that would follow as Americans rallied against Trump’s travel ban. My son never heard the conversations I had with one of my best friends, a trans woman, about the trans military ban. He played with rogue pens in a number of Senate offices as I shared my abortion story with elected officials. He watched me introduce then-Sen. Kamala Harris near the steps of the Supreme Court during a rally to protect Planned Parenthood.

By the grace of his still-forming prefrontal cortex, my son will have the privilege of barely remembering the Trump administration.

By the grace of his still-forming prefrontal cortex, my son will have the privilege of barely remembering the Trump administration. But he will hopefully remember watching the first woman, and the first Black and South Asian American, to be sworn in as vice president by America’s first Latina Supreme Court justice. And while little girls and young women across the world will undoubtedly benefit from, be inspired by and see themselves in Harris, our sons will benefit just as much.

“Every time a woman is in a position of power or leadership, it’s a step forward toward gender equality,” Karen Caraballo, a clinical child and family psychologist, told me. “When boys see more women in power, it normalizes the situation and experience. It also helps fight against and break the circle of prejudice, bias, violence and discrimination.”

Multiple studies have shown how men of all ages benefit from seeing and having women lead, whether that’s helping to lead a company or helping to lead a nation. For example, a study of 100,000 men and women published in 2018 found that sons of working moms spend more time taking care of loved ones as adults, and are more likely to spend time at home.

And while gender discrimination certainly persists in the workplace, studies have also shown how men (and people of all genders) benefit from having a woman in a leadership or managerial position. This is why it’s so important to normalize female leadership from an early age. This 2013 study found that women make better business decisions than men, and are more likely to “consider the rights of others and to take a cooperative approach to decision-making.” Another 2013 study found that women outperform men when multitasking. The point is not that only women (or only men) should lead — rather, it’s that sexism holds everyone back.

Outside of the workplace, positive representations of female leaders should help erode the misogynist attitudes that enable societal problems like domestic violence. “We know that rage, aggression and lust are generally the only emotions that males are socialized to see as acceptable in themselves and other males,” Meredith Shirey, a licensed psychotherapist and the co-host of the podcast “Love Me or Leave Me,” told me. “It stands to reason that these emotions, along with thousands of years of extreme subjugation of women, is indicative of why we still see such a high prevalence of acts of violence against women. If men are exposed to seeing women in positions of power, it is likely that they will, over time, build a view that sees women as equals in every facet, including emotional expression.”

Trump embodied toxic masculinity. Shamelessly exhibiting the traits of a full-fledged narcissist, the 45th president struggled to express empathy, kindness or humility. The nation had elected a man who believes a dad changing his children’s diapers is “acting like the wife”; called a woman breast pumping “disgusting”; told the world the women who accused him of sexual assault “weren’t his type.” Our children noticed. A 2016 study found that 80 percent of children discussed the 2016 presidential election at home. A 2019 study found that school bullying increased in areas that voted for Trump. Children co-opted Trump’s words to torment their classmates.

It’s also my job to remind my sons that creating a more equitable world is not just the job of those who are harmed by inequality.

Of course, regardless of who is elected, it is my responsibility — and that of my partner— to teach my kids moral and ethical lessons, personal accountability and social responsibility. It’s also my job to remind my sons that creating a more equitable world is not just the job of those who are harmed by inequality. This is the right thing to do, but it’s also in their self-interest. For the reasons above and many more, it benefits our young men, just as it does our daughters, to establish equal divisions of labor inside the home, equality in the workplace, and a government that is more representative of the people being governed.

For four years, our sons did not have a president who highlighted these realities — instead, they watched a man who reveled in inequality, relied on sexist tropes to demean his personal and political rivals, and did his best to increase cultural and political divisions.

A sitting president, or vice president, gifts parents with an example they can point to when their children are looking for tangible examples of what a real leader looks like.

And today, Inauguration Day, I will finally be able to point to the vice president and remind my sons that women are just as capable as men; that the little girls in my son’s first grade class are just as likely to become president or vice president; that their mother doesn’t “belong” anywhere, but can succeed anywhere. And most important, like the many men who came before her, I will be able to point to Harris and say that she is not perfect — because she shouldn’t have to be. That at a time when women are still considered “too emotional” or “too career-driven,” too “shrill” or “too ambitious” — when women are held to higher standards than that of their male colleagues— Harris earned her spot at the table.

“This is a moment to reshape the long-held belief that women in these positions is outside the norm,” Shirey says. “Parents should treat this like it is the norm.”

For four years, Trump decimated our collective understanding of what’s “normal.” More than 400,000 Americans have died from a deadly virus he purposefully downplayed; immigrant children were forcefully separated from their parents; a violent insurrection was incited. We’ve redefined how we work, how our children go to school, and how we connect with our family, friends and community.

On Inauguration Day, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have reset the clock on what is “normal” in America. A Black, South Asian woman is now the second-most powerful person in the world. And our sons will be made better for it. Because of her.

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Joe Biden to see Brexit Britain as 'unique opportunity' to lead on world stage, says Javid



BRITAIN is hoping that the arrival in the White House of Joe Biden will usher in a more predictable era in the US-UK “special relationship” after the turbulent presidency of Donald Trump.

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