Exterior of International Monetary Fund Headquarters

The rush for European countries to increase their military spending means hundreds of billions of dollars will go to missile systems and tanks that would have otherwise gone to infrastructure, health care, and education. 

Prepping up the peasants of Slavelandia to go broke and prepare for war, Kristalina Georgieva, the head of the International Monetary Fund, declared “The peace dividend is gone” and “Defense expenditures have to go up.”

The New York Times, citing the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, noted how social spending skyrocketed after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Germany spent money on its economy and Denmark doubled its budget for health care.

Military spending by European countries hit its low point in 2014 and—even with Russia’s annexation of Crimea—most countries continued to spend well below the alliance’s goal that each member spends 2 percent of its GDP on military. 

But the Ukraine War has put most European countries on war footing. McKinsey & Company, the consulting firm, said before the invasion, these countries planned to increase spending by 14 percent over five years, but that number is now 53 to 65 percent.

Some of the countries that have announced the biggest jump in spending were Poland, Germany, and France. Berlin, for example, announced a €100bn special defense fund.

The Financial Times wrote that European countries have benefited from declines in defense spending since the late 1980s that have helped “European nations to expand welfare systems without big increases in tax burdens. Western governments have barely begun to explain to their populations the implications of a new military build-up.”

Ben Zaranko of the Institute for Fiscal Studies wrote in 2022 that Britain’s defense cuts “effectively paid for a growing welfare state for 60 years,” the paper noted.

Defense spending has been a source of frustration for the U.S. and presidents have long been critical of these European countries for not paying their fair share. President Barack Obama once said “free riders aggravate me.”

The Atlantic Council noted that the U.S. spent $766 billion on defense in 2021, “which was over twice what the rest of NATO members spent on their defense combined.”

The U.S. Congress passed the omnibus budget bill in December that increased military spending by $76 billion, or about 10 percent while also raising domestic spending by $42 billion, or 6 percent. When the bill was passed, WSWS noted that inflation was around 7 percent, so that 6 percent increase in domestic spending is a “real terms cut.”

TRENDPOST: We reported last week about the historic sums of money that countries are throwing into their militaries. (See “AS EUROPEAN HOUSEHOLDS SUFFER ECONOMIC PAIN, ‘ARMED CAMP’ EU DRAMATICALLY INCREASES MILITARY SPENDING.”)

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, reported that Central and Western European military budgets hit a combined $345 billion, which is 30 percent higher than in 2013. 

The Western propaganda has been consistent throughout the war and it goes something like: Russia is led by a madman who is bent on complete world domination and Ukraine would be the first chip to fall. The time is now to make sure your weapons stocks are filled to the brim.

Indeed The New York Times wrote in its article: “The sudden security demands, which will last well beyond an end to the war in Ukraine, come at a moment when colossal outlays are also needed to care for rapidly aging populations, as well as to avoid potentially disastrous climate change.”

Kenneth Rogoff, an economics professor at Harvard, told the paper that the upcoming spending pressures on Europe will be a heavy lift and “that’s not even taking into account the green transition.”

He said the entire European social safety net is “very vulnerable to these big needs.”

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary-General, said the current pledge by states to spend 2 percent of their budgets could be outdated. 

“I expect that we will make a new pledge on defense spending when we meet in Vilnius at the NATO summit in July this year… I expect there to be a more ambitious pledge because everyone sees that we need to invest more,” he told Die Welt.

Skip to content