Hooray! The Yanks are going home

"If Europeans are unwilling to pay for their own security, why should US taxpayers pick up the bill?"

From Philip Stephens, the Financial Times:  Several themes run through every such discussion: one says that Europe’s backyard is becoming a less predictable and more perilous place ; a second that Europe faces new and asymmetric threats, whether from cyberattacks or terrorists; a third that the US is tiring of acting as Nato’s paymaster; and a fourth that European voters are unwilling to face up to the security challenge. …

In the circumstances, many would say that the intelligent course for Europeans is to plead with the Americans to stay. The harsh truth, though, is that Europe needs shock treatment. As long as they are nestling comfortably under the US security umbrella, Europeans will continue to inhabit a postmodern utopia in which the only thing to do with defence spending is to cut it and the only power worth talking about is of a distinctly soft variety.

Granted, France’s Nicolas Sarkozy and Britain’s David Cameron tell us the world is a more dangerous place. Europe also has a responsibility to prevent regimes such as that of Muammer Gaddafi from slaughtering their own people. But what are these leaders doing even as they seek to oust the Libyan regime? Imposing deep cuts on their armed forces.

The figures are set out by Tomas Valasek in an illuminating report for the Centre for European Reform. Most European nations are already spending far below the Nato target of 2 per cent of national income. Denmark alone plans to increase its budget in coming years. One or two others are planning to freeze spending. All the rest are cutting. …

The clincher, though – the get-out that allows politicians and policymakers to live with the contradiction of rising threat levels and shrinking armed forces – is the American security blanket. As long as the GIs are over here, Europe can delude itself. As I said, it’s time the Yanks went home. Then we Europeans can grow up.  (graphic: Ingram Pinn/Financial Times)

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