In the LA Times today Andrew Bacevich has an op-ed ‘How do we save NATO? We quit‘. I admire Bacevich, read his stuff carefully, and respect his judgment but I think he is wrong about this and I hope the idea does not catch on. As Jay Hudson, the student who forwarded me the link says:
Slightly(!) isolationist in outlook it also pushes the untruth that the US is the majority bill payer of NATO. As a single nation, yes the US provides the biggest single contribution to the NATO budget, but since he is arguing about Europe as a whole is sorta falls apart. The US provides about 25%, while Germany provides around 20%, followed by the UK (15%) and France (8%). With France rejoining NATO I would expect her share to rise slightly, as she has been participating is some budgets and not others. Also ignores or gives the wrong impression that for NATO operations, the nations pay for their own forces (costs fall where they lie) and the US is not paying for NATO to be in Afghanistan.
I’d add that the only genuinely strategic reason most European politicians perceive for the participation of countries like the UK, Canada, Holland, Denmark in Iraq and/or Afghanistan is their belief in the importance of their relationship with the United States. If you ask strategists here in the UK what is at stake, above all, in Afghanistan they’d answer the cohesiveness and meaning of NATO. Moreover when you consider the impact of participating in American-led expeditionary operations on the faltering domestic counter-radicalization efforts of many European countries (which is the real source of threat right now, not the Russians) it isn’t as though this is a cost-free decision. If America is fed up with its friends and wants to go it alone there are lots of Europeans who would happily agree. Personally, I think that the division of the West in this way is a strategic disaster which will leave all of us weakened and more imperilled in the long run. Yes, let’s have a real discussion, let’s exchange some ‘home-truths’ about respective strategic interests and freedom of manoeuvre. But not as a prelude to break-up but rather towards greater unity of purpose.