Response to Gates: Alliance of the Unwilling

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, June 10, 2011.

From Josef Joffe, the New York Times:  The French defense budget is 1.8 percent of G.D.P., the British is 2.2 percent — a long way from the 3 percent to 4 percent in the cold war. Or from the 4 percent the U.S. is spending. But it is a lot more than the 1.2 percent of Germany, which is currently reducing its force to 185,000 from 250,000.

Germany, France and Britain are slashing their already skimpy defense budgets.

One percent is the norm for most of Europe. But it’s about to get worse. By 2014, Britain will reduce its defense budget by 8 percent. France will cut 4.6 billion euros over the next three years. Britain’s navy chief, Adm. Mark Stanhope, has just told The Daily Telegraph that he can afford just three more months in the Libyan theater before having to skimp elsewhere.

So Europe doesn’t want to put its its money where its mouth is, and Germany hasn’t even opened it. Unlike neutral Sweden, Europe’s No. 1 power has strictly refused to go along, mumbling that “force never solves political problems.” Unsustainable force certainly never does.

Josef Joffe is a senior fellow at the Freeman-Spogli Institute for International Studies and the Marc and Anita Abramowitz Fellow in International Relations at the Hoover Institution, both at Stanford University. He is also publisher-editor of the German weekly Die Zeit.  (photo: Getty)

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