Global Insights: NATO Risks ‘Collective Military Irrelevance’

Global Insights: NATO Risks ‘Collective Military Irrelevance’

On June 10, Robert Gates ended his last major policy speech in Europe as defense secretary with his most public rebuke ever regarding Europeans' failure to provide adequate defense resources to the trans-Atlantic alliance. Gates complained that NATO had finally become what he had long feared: a "two-tiered alliance" divided between those few allies that engage in "hard" combat missions on one hand, and the overwhelming majority of members that can only contribute extensively to "soft" noncombat operations like humanitarian, peacekeeping and training missions on the other. Gates correctly noted that proposed NATO-wide reforms and efficiency measures would at best have a limited impact unless the allies spend more on defense.

Before an audience at the influential Security and Defense Agenda in Brussels, Gates stressed the injustice and political impossibility of perpetuating a situation in which some NATO members are "apparently willing and eager for American taxpayers to assume the growing security burden left by reductions in European defense budgets."

According to Gates, whereas during the Cold War, the United States and the other NATO members spent roughly equal sums on defense, the United States now accounts for 75 percent of all NATO defense spending, at a time when the massive $1.4 trillion U.S. budget deficit could soon force reductions in U.S. defense allocations.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.