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Let's Go after the Europeans

14 Jun 2011
Posted by Gordon Adams

It is Europe-bashing time again.  Outgoing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is the latest in a very long string of US officials to tee off on the Europeans for not "carrying their share of the defense burden."  So easy for Americans to say, such an easy escape-hatch from our own economic and fiscal problems.

The reality is everyone's defense budget is coming down.  And as they come down, it is important to remember that not everyone in the world agrees with the US view that we have a God-given mission to provide global military and counter-insurgency operations in pursuit of the chimera of "global security," least of all the Europeans.  For more on my views, visit the national security experts blog of the National Journal, posted today.

Obviously. Gates' comment


Gates' comment really only works if one believes US foreign policy (alternating between neocon or "liberal interventionist") makes sense and should continue. If that's true, the US spending a much higher % of its GDP than other NATO nations might be a fair point. If you think our FP is more than a little bit crazy, then no.

Facilitator of the Military Industrial Complex

Gates had to do one more round of justifying the military industrial congress complex. The Europeans are taking care of their populations not giving priority to the "health" of their war industries, which are bloated in the US and not usable for anything other than hope for a new industrial adversary.

Which is not happening.

Gates' has been inured with the health of war profits, nothing more. Hidden behind the farce of a war on terrorism.

China finding a power plant for the rusting old Urkaine escort carrier is not a naval arms race.

A global military presence was never realistic

Nor does it qualify as "defense." In the Suez Crisis, during the mid-1950s and still in the early years of the Cold War, former colonial powers Britain and France were asserting themselves in the southeastern Mediterranean, which had been one of their colonial stomping grounds. As I understand it, when there was a run on the English Pound, America angrily demanded they withdraw from the Suez, as a condition for being bailed out.

In asserting that America would not delegate this sphere of military influence to the former colonial powers, or to anyone, we instead ensured that, wherever Russia or communist China looked, they would see America's face. This ensured the insane Cold War arms race, and our concomitant insistence that we should have a "defensive" presence in virtually every darned country on earth, instead of those that would likely threaten us.

How on earth did we think we could afford that?

So here we are, unable to afford it any longer (I'm only shocked that our ostrich-like politicians seem to be realizing it, in the formerly sacrosanct area of military spending). It's a time of confusion, to be certain, but it seems reasonable to state that facing down a Russian takeover of the European continent is no longer our job. At the same time that Russia has ceased to seem a threat in this way, so the former Axis powers, Italy, Germany, and Japan--for God's sake--shouldn't be assumed to need to be hobbled any longer. Somehow, although I esteem German, Italian, and Japanese pacifists, I think that a sensibly-sized, homegrown, and truly defensive defense force of their own wouldn't go amiss.

As comedian Bill Maher says, if we spend billions of dollars on our F-20 fighter, and then go through three wars and don't ever use one, the military is just an expensive jobs program. As I say, if we can watch a country like Sudan host Osama bin Laden, and then slaughter hundreds of thousands of their own people, without doing a single thing to stop it, then we aren't really doing anything either to help ourselves or to help the victims of the next Hitler.

It was always ridiculous to think we could police the whole world. No need to bash Europe. But no need to mother-hen them either. They can look after their own defense.

About the Europeans...

a very long string of US officials tee off on the Europeans for not "carrying their share of the defense burden."

it is important to remember that not everyone in the world agrees with the US view that we have a God-given mission to provide global military and counter-insurgency operations in pursuit of the chimera of "global security," least of all the Europeans.

You mean the Europeans didn't want us taking care of the Milosevic/Bosnia/Serbia problem for them?

Or perhaps the Europeans don't want us to take care of "global security", only *their* security?

Here's what the former Portuguese Foreign Minister Antonio Martins da Cruz, said on the subject:

"Let us suppose Portugal, proper or its archipelagos, faced a threat, who would defend us? The European Commission, France, Germany? ... It would be the U.S., no one else would defend us.

"For instance, during the 1996 mission in Bosnia, operations took place with the support of 20 satellites, of which only one was European. [the other 19 were American]

"If we were attacked, is that what they would offer to defend us?

"How curious is this: in Bosnia, when we were called to send soldiers urgently to that region, the U.S. had C-17 and C-130 planes, and France leased ferry boats, which during the summer are employed in tourist services to Corsica..."

Of course, if the Europeans didn't want us pursuing the "chimera of global security" in *their* neighborhood, all they had to do was say so -- and take care of it themselves.

They've made sure they have the military resources to do so, right?

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