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The Next Foreign Policy
US to More Than Quadruple Defense Spending in Europe

The Obama Administration has announced major increases in defense spending to deter Vladimir Putin in Europe and to fight ISIS in the Middle East. The New York Times reports:

President Obama plans to substantially increase the deployment of heavy weapons, armored vehicles and other equipment to NATO countries in Central and Eastern Europe, a move that administration officials said was aimed at deterring Russia from further aggression in the region.

The White House plans to pay for the additional weapons and equipment with a budget request of more than $3.4 billion for military spending in Europe in 2017, several officials said Monday, more than quadrupling the current budget of $789 million [. . . . ]

Mr. Obama, according to a defense official, is also going to ask Congress for a 35 percent increase — $7 billion — to fight Islamic State militants.

This kind of budget request takes careful planning, and is the result of a considered decision by the President and his Administration, not of impulse or quick political expediency. So, two cheers: Even if he is not going to pursue an activist foreign policy in his last year, President Obama is at least setting up his successor to do so, if she or he wishes.

The next President is going to inherit multiple foreign policy crises on day one, and he or she will almost certainly take a more traditional, activist line than President Obama has, no matter who wins. (On this point: Rand Paul has now dropped out of the GOP race.) This budget maneuver gives that next Administration, whoever will lead it, more tools in more places. How the next POTUS plans on using them should be part of the election’s foreign policy debates going forward.

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  • Blackbeard

    U.S. military spending, as a percent of GDP, is at historic lows and dropping. If we are spending more in Europe then we’re cutting somewhere else.

    • Nevis07

      Exactly. And a technological edge can only get you so far – and in some ways is a disadvantage if you become too dependent on it. Quantity has merits of it’s own. But the country’s priorities are elsewhere and sadly, when the military creates procurement boondoggles like the F-35, the public is less willing to accept high defense spending.

      • Jim__L

        It would be interesting to see how that further breaks down by type of spending — pension, medical, etc.

        • Andrew Allison

          Also the command-to-troops ratio and the NATO staff. Europe is a cushy billet for a lot of unneeded freeloaders.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Yes, enough about the Europeans….what about our troops?

          • Nevis07

            Our troops are being stretched thin… We’ve always done the heavy lifting, but these days we’re doing an especially large amount and we’re devoting less and less of our economic productivity towards it (which is somewhat/partially understandable given our financial situation). What I don’t like is putting our troops in harms way without the means to get the job done.

          • f1b0nacc1

            We are in complete agreement….sadly my (obviously failed) attempt at a joke fell flat…

          • Andrew Allison

            I was talking about our troops. Do the Europeans actually have any [sarc]

      • Blackbeard

        Nevis: That’s neat the way you embedded that chart. How do you do that?

        • Nevis07

          In the comment box, where you are typing – look at the lower left corner and you will see an icon. If you hover your cursor over it, it should say “upload images”. From there you can select the file. I happened to just copy and save an image link from a google search. I think you can drag and drop the images now, but I haven’t tried.

  • Jim__L

    The pivot has become a whirl.

  • rheddles

    We should allocate additional funds to ETO on a 2-1 matching basis, 2 Euros expended by EUros on defense per dollar and 2 European combat personnel under NATO command per GI. Enough of the freeloaders.

    • f1b0nacc1

      Nope. End NATO entirely.
      Leave, and establish bilateral agreements with those states that are willing to make deals that bind them to reciprocal obligations. In those cases (and those cases ONLY) something along the lines of 2-3:1 might be worthwhile.

  • WigWag

    There’s no reason to beat around the bush; with the possible exception of Poland, our NATO allies are useless. They’re the biggest welfare recipients on the planet and U.S. taxpayers are footing the bill.

    It’s long past time to give up on Europe.

    • Jim__L

      While I agree with your assessment, your conclusion does not follow.

      America needs allies to maintain the Pax Americana, for the sake of both ourselves and the world. Europe needs to know the possibility of abandonment (for any one of them) is on the table.

      Best would be for us to find the most egregious violator of any sensible defense expenditure level, and make an example of them. To completely shatter an existing organization like NATO would be to throw away an asset that we would simply have to rebuild.

      • f1b0nacc1

        Most of NATO is a make-work program for EUnick militaries, which are essentially worthless in combat against anything more dangerous than a Catholic girl’s school. The member militaries are top-heavy messes that are (with the exception of a few commando units and the odd naval vessel) worthless in modern warfare, and extraordinarily expensive considering their negligible combat potential.
        Bilateral agreements with those few states worth making deals with. The rest…let Vlad have them with our blessing.

        • WigWag

          You’re right but it’s actually worse than that. We should consider ourselves lucky that our German allies don’t have nuclear weapons. Given the very real possibility that within less than a century, Germany will be an Islamic State, a German nuclear weapon could very well be targeted at the United States.

          Unfortunately our NATO allies, Great Britain and France do possess nuclear weapons. While the situation in those nations isn’t quite as bad as the situation in Germany, given the demographic realities and the unwillingness of Europeans to fight for their culture, it is entirely possible that the first Islamic bomb (excluding the one Iran will surely get) is a bomb developed by one of our NATO allies newly controlled by an ascendent Islamic majority.

          • Jim__L

            Er, Pakistan anyone? The guys that harbored Osama bin Laden for a number of years?

            Anyway, remember the example of South Africa. There’s a decent chance that one of the last acts of a non-Islamic Britain or France could be to unilaterally surrender its nuclear weapons.

          • WigWag

            Let’s hope.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Actually I see the situation in Great Britain considerably more dire than that in Germany, and France isn’t far behind. France at least has a strong sense of national identity, but I wonder if that will last another generation of siege by the politically correct. Germany is a problem, but they are rapidly destroying whatever economic and military power that they have. By the time the muzzies get control, Germany may be a fairly barren prize.

            The time to recognize that Europe’s day is past and that they can be safely abandoned if they don’t wish to save themselves is here. I take no pleasure in that, but it is what it is

          • William Ockham

            The first Islamic bomb is Pakistani. Actually the first 100 Islamic nuclear weapons are held by Pakistan.

          • WigWag

            Yes. That is true.

    • Tom

      I would also except the Baltics from that statement, particularly Estonia.

  • Pete

    What a waste of money.

  • Andrew Allison

    Rather than increasing our NATO expenditures from last year’s 3.3% of GDP, we should announce a steady reduction thereof, to the 2% to which all members are pledged, over the next five years with the promise of exiting the organization at that time if any of the members are not contributing 2%.

    • f1b0nacc1

      The problem with this approach is that NATO tends to spend its money on personnel costs and benefits, producing militaries are ineffective and extremely expensive. If the US is going to be calling the shots (as it should….the luxury of treating the EUnicks as anything other than the tributary states that they are is far too expensive to bother with), we should establish standards, and enfoce them as part of bilateral agreements with those states that choose to make them. Forget about this idiocy of overarching commands…that is for collections of equals, which NATO certainly is not.

      • Andrew Allison

        Sigh, this parallel thinking has got to stop! It’s parallel in two way: as is all-to-often the case [grin], I agree; but that’s not what I was talking about. Note that (thanks to your thoughtful comments) I’ve refined my opinion, namely, start reducing the US contribution NOW and give the EUnicks chance to adjust to the reality that if they don’t, we’ll withdraw. Meanwhile, the DoD request for a $3.4 billion increase should be categorically denied.

        • f1b0nacc1

          I understand your point, but the time has come to wind up NATO, it serves no useful purpose (I am reminded of the scene in “Animal House” where the Delta house is defended as ‘having a long tradition of existence to its members’) other than adding a extra layer of command billets for milicrats, a luxury that we can no longer afford.
          The EUnicks are likely past saving themselves, but perhaps we can salvage a few bits from the wreckage. That isn’t going to happen unless the deadwood is dropped, and we move forward. No parallel plans, no incentives….simply terminate it and offer the survivors the option to change ON OUR TERMS. This isn’t an association of equals, they are tributary states that couldn’t perform without us, and it is long past time when they should understand that. If they believe otherwise, let them demonstrate it…nobody would be happier than I would to be proven wrong.
          As for your (well-intentioned and thoughtful plan) to offer them a ultimatum, we have done this in the past, and they ignore us. NATO has been committed to the 2% spending level for decades, and they haven’t met it for most, in most cases all, of that time. The few states that come close do it by inflating their personnel expenses with benefits (family leave is very popular these days) that leave them with paper armies that have no combat potential worth noting. We have given them a chance, they have shown that they have no intention of going through with any real reforms. Cut them loose, and offer them the chance of calling upon us if they change their ways.

  • Beauceron

    With our huge deficit, why are we expending so much to protect rich Europeans?
    I am sick of them holding our coats why the US does the fighting– and they do the griping and blaming.
    Europe can either put up its own defense or it can die.

  • Fat_Man

    Obama is at least consistent. He is foolish in this as in everything else. The United States should not spend a nickle until Europe has spent at least twice as much.

    It is their continent, it is their hides, and their liberty. They have have ridden on our backs long enough. They have delivered all the lectures on their moral superiority that we can stand. We must NOT spend anything until they ante up.

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