Hawaii Intelligence Digest, 24 February 2017, 05:55 hrs, UTC, Post #122.
Accessed on 24 February 2017, 05:55 hrs, UTC.
Reporter: Stephen M. Walt (“Foreign Policy Magazine”).
Please click link to read the full report.
NATO’s in deep trouble after being the foundation of U.S. strategy in Europe for over five decades. During the 2016 U.S. Presidential Campaign, then-candidate Donald Trump called the alliance obsolete, accused European allies of insufficient financial support, and threatened to pull out U.S. military personnel if Europe didn’t “pay its fair share” for the upkeep of NATO.
Now that Mr. Trump sits in the Oval Office, European leaders fear that the United States will abandon them to the ever growing threat of The Russian Federation.
According to political analyst Stephen M. Walt of “Foreign Policy”, it’s not that Europe can’t defend itself without U.S. and Canadian backing, but rather it’s the lack of will to do so as the European Union experiences an overwhelming crush of domestic and international problems, including terrorism. NATO financial support is just one of several competing priorities for the Eurozone.
Walt offers this geopolitical analysis:
“In short, the hype devoted to relative defense spending levels is mostly just symbolic politics. What American politicians are really saying is that it looks bad when Americans spend 3.5 percent of GDP on defense and our relatively wealthy allies in Europe (or Asia, for that matter) spend less than 2 percent. And they’re right: It does look bad. But if U.S. officials can somehow convince those same allies to boost their spending a bit, they can go back to American voters and claim success, even if it doesn’t reduce U.S. defense burdens or make Europe any safer.”
“Finally, constantly harping about burden sharing distracts attention from the more serious challenges that threaten the transatlantic partnership. The first challenge is the lack of a compelling strategic rationale for it. Much as I hate to admit it, Trump was not entirely wrong to suggest NATO was obsolete — at least in its current form — because it was created to deal with a problem (the Soviet Union) that no longer exists. It is harder to justify an expensive U.S. commitment to defend Europe when there is no potential hegemon there and the new missions that NATO has taken on after the Cold War ended (Afghanistan, Libya, etc.) have fared rather poorly. (NATO’s other implicit purpose — “to keep the Germans down” — isn’t relevant either, despite Germany’s central role in the EU. With a declining and rapidly aging population, Germany today could never aspire to European hegemony.)”
Perhaps, as correspondent Stephen M. Walt suggests, it’s time for Europe, Canada, the United States, and the rest of the NATO membership to redefine the mission of the alliance in the current century. Times have changed and the alliance must change with it or be scrapped for something better. The message is clear: the United States wants Europe to spend more for its own defense as U.S. commitments to Asia and the Pacific increase. We can’t be everywhere all the time.
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Hawaii Intelligence Digest