From Newsweek: Already this year, Italy has downsized its defense spending by about 7 percent and Spain has cut about 4 percent. Analysts are predicting that Britain’s roughly $60 billion annual defense budget could face cuts as high as 25 percent in coming years. And top military and civilian officials, including Lord Paddy Ashdown, are calling for a new defense posture that fits leaner times. That could mean abandoning plans to shell out more than $38 billion to replace Britain’s fleet of Trident nuclear submarines, and building only one (or neither) of an $8 billion pair of aircraft carriers, which ceremonially began construction last week.

Over the long run, such a downgrade in firepower would leave Europeans even more ill equipped to support the transatlantic alliance in trouble spots like Afghanistan. It would give Russia an advantage in dealing with sensitive issues such as energy security and NATO expansion.