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

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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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Biden brings closing message to historically red Georgia

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Joe Biden on Tuesday made his first visit of the 2020 election cycle to the battleground state of Georgia, delivering a closing argument centered around his criticism of President Donald Trump and his goal of seeking to “heal our nation.”

Speaking in Warm Springs, Georgia, Biden took aim at Trump’s responses to the dual public health and economic crises caused by Covid-19, as well as the protests for racial justice seen across the nation this year.

“These are all historic, painful crises. The insidious virus. Economic anguish. Systemic discrimination. Any one of them could have rocked a nation,” Biden said.

When it came to addressing systemic racism, he referred to the protests as a “cry for justice from communities that have long had the knee of injustice on their neck” and vowed “a new wave of justice in America.”

Biden’s events marked his first visit of the 2020 election cycle to Georgia, a state no Democratic presidential candidate has carried since 1992 but where Democrats have been making inroads.

Just a week ahead of Election Day, polls in the key Southern battleground show a tight race. The latest Real Clear Politics polling average in the state shows Biden trailing Trump by just 0.4 percentage points, while they have each led three of the last six polls in the state tracked by NBC News.

To win the state, Biden will need to carry large numbers of the state’s Black voters and large numbers of white suburbanites and white women, political strategists said.

Early voting in the state has already reached historic levels, with ballots cast there thus far already accounting for nearly two-thirds of the total ballots cast in the state in 2016.

In his address, Biden attempted to draw stark contrasts with Trump on how he’d govern if elected, saying he will be “a president who’s in it not for himself, but for others. A president who doesn’t divide us — but unites us. A president who appeals not to the worst in us — but to the best.”

“A president who cares less about his TV ratings — and more about the American people. A president who looks not to settle scores — but to find solutions. A president guided not by wishful thinking — but by science, reason and fact,” he added.

He also drew heavily upon the symbolism of the location of his speech, making frequent reference to the fact that Franklin D. Roosevelt had a retreat in Warm Springs where he sought treatments for polio.

“Warm Springs is a good place to talk about hope and healing. This is where Franklin Roosevelt came to use the therapeutic waters to rebuild himself,” Biden noted.

Later Tuesday, Biden will hold a drive-in rally in Atlanta. His running mate, Kamala Harris, visited the state Friday.



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Nicola Sturgeon faces BACKLASH over Covid Levels system – new regions risk strict lockdown

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NICOLA Sturgeon has faced a backlash from MSPs after unveiling a new tier system of restrictions which are set to come into force next week.

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Judge rejects Justice Department bid to defend Trump in defamation case

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A federal judge in New York has ruled that a libel suit filed against President Trump by E. Jean Carroll cannot be dismissed and rejected the Department of Justice’s bid to defend him in the case. NBC’s Pete Williams has details.

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