Rethink 2%: NATO ‘Defense Spending’ Should Favor Cyber

The acting Pentagon chief’s ambivalent visit to NATO headquarters last week hardly reassured allies rattled by President Trump’s talk of quitting the alliance. But while Trump’s rhetoric is less than encouraging, his criticism of allies who put less than the agreed-upon 2 percent of national economic output toward defense should prompt us to rethink how we define “defense spending” in today’s fast-changing world.

Of NATO 28’s member states, only five meet the goal; German defense spending is just 1.2 percent of GDP. In this way, at least, Trump has a point: NATO’s economics are clearly not working out, and this disorganization is undermining the alliance. But the crucial adjustment that is needed is not the amount of spending, but what it seeks to fund.

The face of war is changing dramatically as cyber and electronic attacks become increasingly commonplace, and so must our allies’ understanding of defense. Over the past year, state-sponsored Russian hackers have targeted both U.S. elections and critical components of the country’s infrastructure. Chinese hackers appear to be equally—if not more—alarming. The number of data breaches at U.S. companies rose 27 percent in 2017. ..Read More..

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