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Commitment Issues
The Trouble with NATO Burden Sharing
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  • Boritz

    Anybody watching Deutschland 83 on HULU? That show’s cool.

  • Andrew Allison

    Why is a 2% target impossible? It’s just that they’d rather spend the money elsewhere. The only thing which can change this is a steady reduction in US expenditure. “Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” Samuel Johnson.

  • ——————————

    “A better way to address burden sharing” would be for the US to ‘seriously’ threaten to pull out of NATO…or actually pull out if the threat doesn’t solve the problem…then watch how quickly the problem is resolved….

    • rheddles

      The best way to indicate to the “allies” that we are pulling out is to repatriate the dead in our military cemeteries to CONUS cemeteries. The convoys of trucks would be impressive. And a message that there won’t be a third time. Too many Americans have died in the cause of spreading Islam already.

    • f1b0nacc1

      While I absolutely endorse the idea of leaving NATO (it is hopeless), don’t bet on the EUnicks cleaning up their act as a result. They have gone too far down the road that they are on, they aren’t going to change at this point.

      • ——————————

        It ‘seems’ at times that we are not far behind….

        • f1b0nacc1

          Sad but true…let us hope that we can learn by their unhappy example

  • D4x

    One key reason why the USA NATO commitment is so important to the other NATO members is in USA hardware capabilities, not ‘boots on the ground’ body count. It is contradictory for Germany to claim, on the one hand, “…A 2014 parliamentary inquiry found that only 41 out of 190 helicopters, 42 of 109 Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft and 280 of 406 Marder armoured cars were operational. … [and on the other hand claim] A government economic adviser says bluntly: “Gabriel is right. There is no way to absorb a big defence budget increase.” …”

    Sounds like a lot of deferred maintenance could use that budget increase very effectively. Very troubling when the FT, and the echo, accepts such contradictions without challenge.

    If Italy needs a core competency, they should supply the MREs. Everyone would get toothbrushes, 3x/day!

    • f1b0nacc1

      As Andrew points out above, the problem isn’t that they cannot spend the money, they simply don’t want to spend it on defense. The problem with most of the German hardware, for instance, is that they didn’t buy spares, and the designs of most of their purchases (the helicopters in particular) are simply badly suited for their use and were purchased instead to keep politically favored industries afloat. The A-400M transport plane is a particularly egregious example, but other embarassments like the G36 rifle are equally depressing. And lets not even begin to talk about the absurd personnel practices in most European armies, which these days are little more than civil service jobs involving live ammo (occasionally).

      There is nothing wrong with the various European militaries that cannot be fixed with a sufficient input of willpower to do so. Sadly that doesn’t exist, and the Europeans aren’t likely to obtain it anytime soon. These Lotus-Eaters are likely beyond saving, and perhaps we would do best to leave them to the gentle mercies of the Russians and the Muslims.

      • D4x

        Yes, agree, which is why my point was in the contradiction in the FT report accepted by our post-writer, mostly looking at personnel costs. Will stick to reviewing MREs in the future!

        The reality is that NATO is not going away anytime soon. Reform is the only path forward. Ditto for UN. Carpe diem.

        • f1b0nacc1

          I am not quite as sure about that as you are, but let us see what time reveals…

          • D4x

            Not quite as sure about NATO dissolution? Or not sure that reform is possible? My guess is NATO HQ is in Brussels to make NATO more than a symbolic ‘deterrent’. Whether the territorial and political sovereignty of Belgium was ever worth fighting two such destructive wars does not really matter. Credible deterrence should be worth reform.
            Let us see, indeed!

          • f1b0nacc1

            You believe that the UN and NATO aren’t going away anytime soon…I am not as sure. Both of them are long past any realistic hope of reform, both are expensive, and neither performs any useful purpose.

            As for NATO and deterrence, if that was true once, it certainly isn’t now. Putin is no threat to Western Europe, and even if he was (and I repeat he is not), why should we care at this point? The Europeans certainly do not seem to think that there is anything there worth fighting for, perhaps on this subject we should take their opinions seriously.

          • D4x

            I await Sec Tillerson’s restructuring of the State Dep’t, to see if reform of ANY entrenched bureaucracy is possible.

            Dueling comments that capture the dilemma:

            “…“There is a crisis with North Korea now, at a time neither State nor Defense have the bench of senior leaders needed, and with State facing a massive budget cut,” said Wendy R. Sherman, a top diplomat in the Obama administration. “How do you execute a policy with the quality you need in that circumstance?”

            “The first step was to find out where the Titanic was, and then it was to map out where everything else is,” Mr. Hammond [R. C. Hammond, Mr. Tillerson’s spokesman] said, likening the department’s organizational structure to a sunken ocean liner and its seabed surroundings. “I think we’re still in the process of mapping out the entire ocean floor so that we understand the full picture.” …”

            (6 more free articles from the NYT to go!)

  • AaronL

    I also can’t figure out why they can’t meet the 2% figure. I’m Israeli and our defense budget is 5.2% of our GDP. I don’t know if that figure includes the U.S. aid . If it does , than the Israeli tax payer is paying 4.5% of GDP for our defense budget which is also significantly higher per capita than the U.S. defense budget. In gasoline prices that means that several years ago ,when the price of the lowest octane gas was $3 a gallon in Tucson it was selling for $8.2 a gallon in Israel. The difference is taxes because it costs a lot of money to buy a tank and we have to buy a lot of tanks and planes despite the fact that our defense expenditure is much for cost-effective than that of the U.S.

    The Europeans are really taking advantage of you.

    • In fairness to the Europeans, Obama did sign a 10 year deal to fund $38,000,000,000 of US tax dollars for Israel. Ramstein Airbase in Germany and Incirlik in Turkey are major hubs for US operations beyond Europe. Israelis did not openly offer usage of any ports or airfields for US offensive purposes in any of its dumb middle east adventures.

      • Tom

        Well, given that 3/4 of that $38 billion is going back to the USA, and it helps us keep access to Israeli R&D and intel, I don’t see the problem.

        • I know a billion other ways the US can spend $38 bn to actually benefit its own people without subisidizing the government of another country so Israelis can take care of their people via universal healthcare and we can get Trumpcare.

          What’s the return on investment from Israel from all these decades and hundreds of billions of USD other than the Suez Crisis and a sunken US Navy vessel?

          • Tom

            Are you a paleocon?

          • Maybe, are you a neocon?

          • Tom

            No. But I’m not the one saying things that are not based in reality.

          • “Ex-Israeli defense minister says ISIS ‘apologized’ to Israel for November clash”..with friends like this…? Google the quoted text and find the story from IsraelTimes. If I post a link, they never post it.

          • Tom

            So, a former member of the government says, without any sort of confirmation, that ISIS apologized for doing something really stupid, and you think this is evidence of collusion?

          • Israel general Nuriel Nitzan says tacit alliance with Al-Qaida in Syria (Nusra) “serves the Israeli interest.”

            Google “The threat to Israel from the Syrian border
            23/04/2017 | by Nuriel, Nitzan (Brig. Gen. Res.)”

          • Tom

            It was wise of you to select a phrase. Here is what he actually said:
            “What will happen the day after the civil war? Will Al-Nusra Front be a “friend to Israel”? Probably not. But for the moment, its inaction against us serves the Israeli interest.”


            Definitely a paleocon.

          • Still supporting Al Qaeda huh?

          • Tom

            I realize that in your world, not interfering while other people kill each other unless they cross over into your space equals support, but that is not the world that actually exists.

          • So let’s team up with the guys that actually attacked the US?

          • Tom

            Would you kindly care to elaborate on where you saw the words “team up” or any words expressing the equivalent of the concept, anywhere in my post, or any previous posts, or in the articles you cited?
            Go ahead and try, I’ll wait.

        • D4x

          Unlike other major U.S. allies in Europe, the Far East, Africa and the Middle East, ‎Israel does not require U.S. military personnel and bases in order to produce an ‎exceptionally high added value to the annual U.S. investment in — and not ‎‎”foreign aid” to — Israel’s military posture.

          For example, the plant manager of Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of the ‎F-16 and F-35 fighter planes, told me during a visit to the plant in Fort Worth, Texas: “The ‎value of the flow of lessons derived from Israel’s operation, maintenance and ‎repairs of the F-16 has yielded hundreds of upgrades, producing a mega-‎billion-dollar bonanza for Lockheed-Martin, improving research and ‎development, increasing exports and expanding employment.”

          A similar ‎added value has benefitted McDonnell Douglas, the manufacturer of the F-15 fighter plane ‎in Berkeley, Missouri, as well as hundreds of U.S. defense manufacturers, ‎whose products are operated by Israel. The Jewish state — the most ‎predictable, stable, effective, reliable and unconditional ally of the U.S. — has ‎become the most cost-effective, battle-tested laboratory of the U.S. defense ‎industry. ‎…

          According to a former U.S. Air Force intelligence chief, Gen. George Keegan: ‎‎”I could not have procured the intelligence [provided by Israel on Soviet Air ‎Force capabilities, new Soviet weapons, electronics and jamming devices] with ‎five CIAs. …”

          04 29 2018 “US-Israel security interests converge” Yoram Ettinger

          [Prefer to reply to you with this, because you might believe it! Timing is interesting, since PA’s Abbas is visiting WH next week.]

          • I expect actual offensive support for our “missions” in the ME for a hundreds of billions of USD, not a test lab.

      • LarryD

        Obama, like the rest of his faction, detests and loathes Israel.

    • tellourstory

      You left off the part where after Europeans take advantage of Americans they declare themselves to be superior to them in every
      possible way.

      If I recall correctly, after the cancellation of the Suez canal operation, largely due to US interference, Germany’s Chancellor Konrad Adenauer told the French PM to “make Europe your revenge.” I’m not sure if those were the exact words used, but the point was clear and, the more I read about the actions of the EU towards the US, the more I’m convinced this remains true to this day.

  • Pete

    This shows what a mess Europe is in . The U.S. should start a phased pull out from NATO.

  • Fat_Man

    I have absolutely no sympathy for the Germans. American taxpayers have spent trillions of dollars to defend them while they have grown rich and perfected their socialist welfare state. I believe that the FT article represents the special pleading of the terminally lame.

    The Germans spend billions putting “refugees” (jihadists on r&r from ISIS) on the dole. They can spend more money on defense. If they do not have the institutional capacity to spend it, they can spend money on developing that capacity.

    In the meantime Germany can write a check payable to the US government for the difference between its actual expenditures and 2% of its GDP. About $30 billion for this year. The same is true of other NATO members. If the Greeks and the other PIGS cannot come up with the scratch, they should be expelled.

    Additionally 2% is too low. The target should be 4%. Which is what the US will get back to soon. Further, the front line danger zone countries (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland) should commit to 6% and to form and maintain armies of the entire people on the Swiss/Israeli model.

    • Kevin

      The could also provide a subsidy to Greece, Italy and Spain, etc. to beef up their boarder patrol forces, etc. to deal with immigration tidal waves. Cheaper to stop it using cheaper Greek labor before they settle in Germany. It might also but a lot of goodwill for Germany among the poor southern Mediterranean EU members. Manpower intensive forces (boarder patrol, infantry, etc.) would also sop up some if the massive unemployment in these youth labor markets.

      • Fat_Man

        Good thought.

    • The joke is that NATO stands for Need Americans to Operate. It is a token alliance that is an extension of the freeloading that Brenton-Woods encouraged. Google to see how many times Turkey violated Greek airspace. US can’t indefinitely afford these defense commitments for rich nations that are profiting off the US neocon defense posture.

    • f1b0nacc1

      Nothing you say is wrong, but you know as well as I do that none of this would ever happen. The time has come to simply cut the EUnicks loose, and establish bilateral agreements (with real responsibilities explicitly stated int he documents) with those nations that are serious about their own defense. Stop treating these decadent lotus-eaters like equals, they are not and it is time that we simply state what is true. End NATO, and let the EUnicks decide what sort of future they are willing to pay for. The Russians and Muslims are welcome to them.

  • Angel Martin

    The euro-elite, there is no topping this gang.

    Germany has a population of 80+ million but they say they can’t manage to create a military of 170,000.

    They claim they are under an existential threat from Russian, but then they do nothing for themselves and demand that the USA protect them. Then they complain about the size of the USA defence budget.

    Some of these countries like Sweden and Denmark spend as much or nearly as much on foreign aid as they do on defence.

    Whether it is core NATO, or hangers on like Sweden, terminate all these alliances with Europe (excluding UK and some E Europe countries) and cut them lose.

    Western Europe has chosen to be slaves of moslems and/or Putin, and we should “respect” their “choice”.

    • AaronL

      Israel has a population of about 8.5 million of whom only the Jews (with a population of 6.3 million and male Druze (60,000) can be drafted. Moslem Arabs are not drafted .Nevertheless we generate armed forces estimated to be between 630,000-680,000. That would be roughly between 10%-11% of the legally draftable population. If other countries had armed forces according to that same usage formula than Germany would have an army of 8.5 million, U.K. and France would each have an army of 6.5 million, Holland 1.4 million, Poland 3.8 million etc.
      They prefer the comfortable life to defending themselves.

  • Jeff77450

    My comment is tangential to the topic. It always infuriates me when a Paul Krugman or a Bernie Sanders gushes about Europe’s cradle-to-grave-nanny-states, most especially their national health services. If the U.S. hadn’t been doing the heavy-lifting of their defense for the past ~72 years those nanny-states either wouldn’t exist or would be nowhere near as elaborate as they are. Not to mention all the services that the U.S. has created/provided e.g. the world-wide air traffic control system, GPS, weather and communications satellites, the internet, a disproportionate amount of the world’s R&D. I’m sure that we could think of others. For Asia the Pacific Tsunami Warning System.

  • The EU and Germany notably can manage to fund universal healthcare and beat out the US on many quality of life factors including longevity, poverty rates, infant mortality, crime rates and world class infrastructure but can’t manage to budge their military budgets or readiness levels. Seems to me that this Russian threat is nothing but hype considering Europeans are not putting skin in the game by stopping natgas imports, or stopping trade to Russia since Germany likes to sell BMWs and Audis to Russia, or discouraging Russian tourism.

    Germany is the strongest European economy and only grows each year. Just like many other NATO nations, it can afford to be freeload off the US presence and the US insistence on funding billions more US tax dollars to deploy more troops to Europe to “reassure” our freeloading allies. So despite all the talk, the US continues to keep Europeans hooked on freeloading. They are not being held to bear the costs (economic, diplomatic, geopolitical, reputational, terrorist blowback costs) of policing the oceans or fighting ISIS. US protects rich EU countries so they can trade with China or Russia in other words with little to no benefit to the US.

    Is it Putin’s master plan to encourage Europe to not spend on defense?

    • Angel Martin

      “Is it Putin’s master plan to encourage Europe to not spend on defense?”

      Yes I’m sure it is. Putin’s master plan with Putin’s agents in place to carry it out. Anyone who thinks Gerhard Schroeder is a one-off is delusional.

      My bottom line, it is not our job to save Western Europe from themselves. Eastern Europe we should be ready to support if they are willing to do their part.

  • What’s even more embarrassing than the blatant NATO freeloading is the fact that the US is a proxy force for the Saudis and their Sunni domination of the Middle East. How many conflicts in Middle East can be tied to Saudi and the GCC’s (and Israeli) benefits? (Yemen, Iraq, saber rattling with Iran).

    I used to think the US was proud of its independence and ability to think for its own interests and not be manipulated.

    How many times are US Naval forces policing the seas of the Gulf despite the fact that the US has enough Shale oil to dump Saudi Arabia on the wayside. I’m beginning to suspect that the Gulf States and SA don’t have a navy since the US Navy works for them!

    What’s the return on investment from Saudi Arabia other than arms sales? What have they given the US other than oil price shocks, 9/11 and “moderate” jihadis like Bin Laden, and funding the likes of moderate head choppers in Syria?

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