Posts Tagged ‘Robert Gates’

Why the US bears the cost of NATO

May 26, 2017

My sixth most-viewed post is about a warning in 2011 by then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to European allies to pay their proportionate share of the cost of the NATO military alliance.

This is much the same as what President Trump is saying now.

I thought then, and I still think, that members of the European Union are strong enough and wealthy enough to protect themselves without relying on the USA.   I thought then, and I still think, that this would be a good thing.

But if the Europeans paid for their own defense, they might be less willing to follow the U.S. lead in military policy.  And, maybe more importantly, they might be less willing to buy their weapons from American manufacturers.

The advantage of paying the piper means that you get to call the tune.

Secretary Gates’ warning on NATO

June 11, 2011
NATO countries in Europe are in blue. Click map to view.

The Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle this morning reported that U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned NATO allies that the United States can’t continue to support the alliance if European allies don’t do their share.

Robert Gates

Without naming names, he criticized “nations apparently willing and eager for American taxpayers to assume the growing security burden left by reductions in European defense budgets.”  He said that unless something changes, NATO could cease to exist.

Earlier Gates warned that if the United States cuts back on its military budget, the U.S. government will no longer be able to project its power on a global basis.

Gates stated the alternatives honestly and correctly.  But would the demise of NATO be such a terrible thing?  Would a cutback on the reach of the U.S. military be such a bad thing?

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was created in 1949 because leaders of the nations of western Europe, devastated by war, did not believe they could defend themselves against the Red Army.  For more than 40 years, the United States maintained forces in western Europe which, along with the U.S. nuclear arsenal, deterred any thought the Soviet leaders might have had of attacking Europe.

Now the Soviet Union no longer exists.  Western European countries have good relations with the Russian Federation.  True, some of the eastern European countries formerly dominated by the Soviet Union want a U.S. guarantee.  NATO has expanded to take many of them in.  But is it the responsibility of United States to bear 43 percent of the world’s military expenditures to provide this reassurance?  If a guarantee is needed, shouldn’t the European nations provide it?

Currently NATO is mainly an adjunct to the U.S. global “war on terror.”  NATO allies were quick to join the United States in 2002 in the invasion of Afghanistan, but the people of France, Britain and other European countries no longer see this as being in their interest.  I think the people of the United States are slowly coming to the same conclusion – that invading foreign countries does not make this country safer.

If the United States did not have military bases on every continent, and military forces able to intervene almost anywhere in the world, there would be fewer U.S. military interventions.  I think this would be a good thing, not a bad thing.

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