NATO’s Surreal World

NATO Ministers June 2011

From Sarwar Kashmeri, the New Atlanticist:  NATO’s disarray has begun to chip away at the wider European-American relationship currently contributing 14 million jobs and $3 trillion in commercial sales. American officials regularly berate the Europeans with calls to spend ever more money on defense, even when the European Union’s total defense budget is already $300 billion, pretty close to America’s defense budget prior to 9/11.

The real problem is the way in which this money is spent — for example, the wasteful duplication of weapons procurement programs. This will not change unless there is political will among E.U. leaders for change.

After speaking with over 50 military and political leaders on both sides of the Atlantic, I am convinced this will to change will only come about when America decides to take away its defense credit card and asks Europe to take responsibility for its own security.

The E.U. is increasingly capable of defending itself under its Common Security and Defense Policy, through which the E.U. has already deployed 27 military and civilian missions from Asia to Africa, and just approved the 28th — a military force for Libya that is ready to be deployed as soon as the U.N. asks for it.

C.S.D.P. should be the pre-eminent vehicle to defend Europe;NATO should be bridged to C.S.D.P. and only come into action when Europe, America, and Canada wish to act together in conflicts where all three share vital national interests.

NATO has truly done a magnificent job, but it is time to move on.

Sarwar Kashmeri is a senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s International Security Program and the author of “NATO 2.0: Reboot or Delete?" This essay originally appeared in the International Herald Tribune.  (photo: Reuters)

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