Prague, Czech Republic – Prime Minister Andrej Babis lashed out at former U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton after the latter criticized the Czech leader in his new White House memoir.
In The Room Where it Happened: A White House Memoir, John Bolton, U.S. President Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor in 2018-2019, described a 2018 NATO summit in Brussels and stroke a not-so-veiled blow to Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis.
As discussions were rife regarding most EU countries’ inability to meet NATO’s defence budget target of 2% of GDP, Babis made “the most inept comment”, Bolton claimed in his book, with the Czech leader arguing that the country had trouble meeting its defence commitments because its GDP was growing too rapidly.
According to Bolton, Prime Minister Babis suggested the Czech Republic was unable to spend enough on its own defence due to the fact its economy was growing richer too quickly.
Framed like this, it does sound like a nonsensical argument. But Babis was quick to respond to the criticism by pointing out the simple math behind his 2018 comments.
“All one had to do was a bit of thinking. The equation is quite simple. Along with Trump, other European leaders understood it at the NATO summit. I argued logically that basically the GDP percentage spent on armament does not much matter because the absolute sum of defence spending is more important”, he explained.
In short, while the Czech defence budget has increased in absolute terms, the hike has failed to translate in terms of percentage to GDP.
In 2019, the Czech Republic spent around 1.2% of its GDP on defence, with only a few EU countries, including Poland and the Baltic states, meeting the 2% threshold requirement. Prague has previously pledged to reach the 2% target by 2024.
“If the GDP rises, the absolute sum to be spent on defence rises too”, he elaborated. “However, if the GDP falls in a year and our defence spending is preserved, the percentage of defence spending logically rises”, he went on, lashing out at Bolton for using his statement out of context and saying his understood “quite well why Trump sacked Bolton […] as he was unable to understand such a simple thing”.
While John Bolton said he willfully resigned from his post as U.S. National Security Advisor, President Trump claimed he was forced to step down at his own request.
Main photo credit: Blesk.cz