From Lawrence S. Kaplan, the New York Times: Burden sharing has been a problem for NATO since the beginning of the alliance. . . .
In what has often been called the “trans-Atlantic bargain,” the United States from 1949 onward has committed itself to the recovery of Western Europe’s economy and the defense of its territories provided that the Europeans demonstrate their willingness to coordinate their economic efforts and organize a defense against the Soviet threat. This bargain was not between equals. The United States accepted Europe’s inadequate responses if only because the American public would not support the radical change in America’s foreign policy without the partners promising to reshape their economies and military establishments. . . .
No matter how frayed the relations are, both the United States and Western Europe have recognized the benefits two generations have given them. There is no substitute for NATO that might deal more successfully with the many challenges confronting the world today
Lawrence S. Kaplan is a professorial lecturer in history at Georgetown University and emeritus director of the Lyman L. Lemnitzer Center for NATO and European Studies at Kent State University. He is the author of numerous books about NATO. (photo: Getty)