NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 17, 2008

The North Atalantic Treaty Organization (NATO), linchpin of America's and Europe's postwar security, is in serious trouble.  Key members won't pull their weight, leading to a weaker coalition that might soon break apart, says Investor's Business Daily (IBD).  This is no speculation.  It's the conclusion of Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Speaking of Afghanistan, where NATO has directed operations against the Taliban since 2005, Gates faulted NATO troops for their poor training and said he's "worried we have some military forces that don't know how to do counterinsurgency operations."

This isn't the first criticism, and it isn't likely to be the last, says IBD:

  • Our European allies have repeatedly refused requests for more troops, even as the Taliban's attacks have intensified.
  • In many cases, the European countries have failed to meet commitments to send helicopters and other badly needed gear.

In Europe, a fashionable pacifism holds sway.  What remains of a warrior culture is long gone.  Why bother when the United States will step in and do the fighting for you?

This attitude is manifested in budget priorities.  Instead of spending on defense, Europeans have constructed an extensive welfare state that is now a dead weight on their economies, making increased military spending problematic at best.

A look at defense spending in 2005, the most recent full year for which data are available, is illustrative, says IBD:

  • That year, U.S. defense spending of $420.7 billion was greater than the next 15 largest countries combined.
  • The United States is but one of 26 countries in NATO, yet makes up the bulk of its troop and equipment commitments.

Source: Editorial, "Out With Old, In With A New NATO," Investor's Business Daily, January 16, 2008.


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