America’s lost ally

Prime Minister David Cameron greets NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at 10 Downing Street, July 12, 2010.

From George Will, the Washington Post:  NATO’s secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, recently warned that “at the current pace of cuts,” it is hard to see how in the future “Europe could maintain enough military capabilities to sustain” operations such as those under way in Libya.

Actually, Europe could not sustain them today; only U.S. munitions, intelligence, refueling and other assets keep the Libyan operations going.

[Journalist and historian Max] Hastings says France is the only European nation with which Britain “can plan jointly for future war-fighting contingencies with a reasonable expectation of commitments being fulfilled”: “No responsible British government could today make an agreement whereby its European partners would become responsible for, say, airborne surveillance or unmanned drone combat capability in a future deployment, because the risk is far too great that on the day, and for whatever reasons, the others simply would not be there.”

Since the Cold War’s end, the combined gross domestic product of NATO’s European members has grown 55 percent, yet their defense spending has declined almost 20 percent. Twenty years ago, those nations provided 33 percent of the alliance’s defense spending; today, they provide 21 percent. This is why Robert Gates, before resigning as U.S. defense secretary, warned that unless Europe’s disarmament is reversed, future U.S. leaders “may not consider the return on America’s investment in NATO worth the cost.” Born to counter the Soviet army on the plains of Northern Europe, NATO may be expiring in North Africa.  (photo: Reuters)

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