By: Jerome Hughes
Anti-war groups are expressing disbelief that NATO defense ministers have agreed to actually increase military personnel numbers in Iraq. Last month, Iraq’s parliament passed a resolution calling on the government to expel foreign troops from the country as Iran-US tensions escalated following the killing of a top Iranian military commander, Qassem Soleimani, and the Iraqi armed group leader in a US airstrike in Baghdad. Perhaps that’s why the announcement to enhance NATO’s military presence was made somewhat sheepishly.
Donald Trump is also calling the shots when it comes to NATO’s military spending. The defense ministers signed off on their previous commitment to invest an additional 400 billion US dollars on arms by 2024. Most of the cash will come from European Union tax payers as 22 of the 29 NATO members are EU nations.
A number of campaign groups and many EU legislators describe the European Union’s military spending as obscene given the economic hardship that so many of the bloc’s citizens continue to endure.
The EU is currently in the process of developing its own army. In light of Brexit, major divisions inside NATO and the makeup of the current US administration, some claim it might not be a bad idea.
At their meeting, NATO defense ministers also agreed to develop a strategy to respond to Russia’s missile defense program. Critics of the alliance continue to insists that NATO must provoke Moscow in order to justify its existence, with the arms industry being the main beneficiary of that goading.