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The U.S. Shoots Down Danish Defense Billion Kroner Boost

Despite additional billions to the Danish Defense, Denmark is far from the NATO obligation, says US Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands in an interview with Børsen newspaper. Defense Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen disagrees with the criticism.

A step in the right direction, but not nearly enough. This is the statement by Ambassador Sands following the decision by the Danish government, Danish People’s Party, Social Democrats, and Social-Liberal Party on Tuesday to lift the Defense’s budget with DKK 4.5 billion by 2024. The new deal brings the Danish Defense’s budget up to 1.5 percent of the GDP. But the level or Denmark’s method is not popular with the US Ambassador. “It feels like it has been done in the wrong way. If the political parties in Denmark take a look at what Denmark has promised to contribute with and budgeted with; what is actually needed – instead of a random number,” says Sands.
Denmark and a number of other NATO members made a commitment in 2014 to work on getting to the 2 percent of GDP, and concrete investments call for Danish money, underlines Sands. Denmark should, in the words of the Ambassador, instead look at this “like when you do a household budget.” Sands continues: “One must look at what one has made a commitment to pay for – such as loans and insurances – and then find the financing.

The numbers must be tied to reality.” The Ambassador points out that Denmark’s promise on the 2 percent is now five years old and there is no time to waste in regards to continuing on this path. She points out that the U.S. spends 3.5 percent of the GDP on the defense, and that the U.S. finances Europe’s security with billions of dollars. “It is American tax money. So we expect that all allies will do their share. If Europe does not, then who will?” says Sands. With the new deal Tuesday, Denmark will be in a league with nations such as Germany, Holland, and Norway that also have a budget of 1.5 percent. It is far from the US demand on 2 percent of the GDP. According to Børsen newspaper’s information, it has been important for Denmark to get to the same level as NATO’s ‘mid-group’ on defense expenses. By being at the same level as, for example, Germany, it is easier to sustain the pressure by US President Trump who has made it clear that all NATO nations must contribute with 2 percent.

According to Sands, the Danish politicians are facing a question: How must allies who do not fulfill their obligations be handled? Sands underlines, however, that she is impressed with the Danish soldiers: “When I look at the brave and competent Danish soldiers who do the hard work and go into conflict zones that few others will engage in, then I must say that we have an excellent ally. But we need a discussion among the Danish politicians about how to fulfill the goals that they have also set.” How will we get there? Defense Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen does not want to give an interview to Børsen. Apart from being pleased that the US thinks the Danish soldiers are competent and underlining that Denmark remains a credible NATO ally, he writes in an email about the 1.5 percent: “A broad majority in Parliament has now decided to raise the Danish Defense’s budget further and thus enhance Denmark’s collective defense. This is a positive development that should please all of our allies.” That Denmark will in 2023 have a budget of 1.5 percent does not impress the US Ambassador. “I love Denmark. I love our alliance. But I must also say that when I was onboard one of your frigates, there were no missiles onboard. If Article 5 is activated (NATO musketeer oath, editor), then Denmark has no missiles onboard. I simply do not understand how Denmark can defend itself or come to the rescue of allies – and that is the point with NATO.” (Børsen, January 31).