Skip to comments.1.3 Percent Doctrine, 98.7 Percent Delusion: Why Obama canít convince Europe to spend on defense
Posted on 03/29/2014 11:02:05 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
Going forward, every NATO member state must step up and carry its share of the burden.
President Barack Obama, March 26, 2014
On Wednesday, addressing an assembly of young Europeans, President Obama issued a challenge. Faced with a resurgent Russia, he said, and in view of the shaky global economy, Europeans must spend more on defense.
His sentiment is well founded. Lets be clear: EU defense spending is woefully inadequate. Excluding Britain, France, Germany, and perhaps Italy, the EU states are fundamentally incapable of full-spectrum operations. And the military of Americas greatest ally, the British, is being forced down the same path.
As the Wall Street Journal noted on Monday, out of all EU members, only Britain spends 2 percent of GDP on defense. France is tailing around the 1.9 percent mark. And what about Europes strongest economy, Germany?
Angela Merkels conservative government is allocating 1.3 percent of GDP to defense.
That figure speaks volumes about European defense doctrine one of casual disinterest, a box to be ticked rather than a responsibility to be met.
As I see it, there are two distinct causes for this disinterest: the political and the philosophical.
At the political level, theres no question that most Europeans see defense spending as a low priority. When stacked up against government-provided health care, for example, defense spending lacks tangible benefits. Indeed, the European Left is expert at manipulating this understanding by offering a populist choice: Why buy bombers to kill foreigners, when you can have a new hospital and save Europeans? It may be intellectually vapid, but its definitely catchy.
Its also hard to deny the European Lefts success in framing broader spending debates. Visit the EU and youll find that theres one policy area that consistently finds wide support the welfare state. As Ive made clear on a number of occasions, welfare states are fatally flawed. But even conservative EU leaders wont seriously cut welfare in order to invest in defense.
This can be seen not just in Merkels government, but also in David Camerons Conservative-led U.K. government. To address a ballooning deficit, Cameron has cut spending on defense, but protected education, health care, and foreign aid.
This reality leads us to the second consideration philosophy. If youre ever in London or Paris and can get a few intelligent Europeans away from the prying ears of their fellow citizens, youll find that a good number of them recognize Americas instrumental role in the world. This is especially true at times like these, when Europeans are reminded that keeping a dismal past from returning calls for resolve alongside proper values.
Nevertheless, when the immediate dangers recede and Europeans can return to more comfortable pontifications perhaps over a pint of ale, a glass of wine, or a weizen of weizenbier the demands of maintaining this resolve suddenly seem less palatable.
Its in these moments that the willful neglect of political reality finds rationalizations in philosophy. Given a choice between acknowledging global threats that demand countering, and imagining a world amenable to respectful diplomacy, the latter understanding triumphs. When Europeans feel secure, laying the worlds ills on American neo-imperialism or bullying is the reflexive easy option. In these moments, Europeans like to pretend that peace can be won through soft power and multilateral moralism alone.
Below the surface of this popular myth, EU leaders retain false confidence in something else: the belief that America will continue to bear the burden forever, if necessary, and alone, if necessary. And thats a very dangerous delusion.
Because Putin and company see a different America.
Cognizant of Obamas distaste for foreign entanglements and witnessing the rise of Republicans like Rand Paul, the agents of authoritarianism realize that Americans of all views are sick of unequal responsibility. Propelled by their own lust for power, they sense an opening in this vacuum.
Ukraine today; . . . tomorrow?
In a nutshell, Europe cannot afford to cut back on its entitlements without risking a continental wide riot.
You can bet that if we cut our defense budget, they’ll be the first to call us isolationists.
Well we`re not in very good shape either, so we gotta defend`em? Yea, right!
I think it would be good for Europe to be forced to confront reality and grow up.
If the US is gong to be the standing army for Europe, then Europe should pay; if they won’t, then a periodic dose of Putin might cause an attitude adjustment - or not.
I think I said that.
Kind of like the continental wide riot that will happen in America, when the welfare queens are cut off.
and guess who are the biggest rioters in the EU?
rhymes with “fuzzies”.
Europe is rich enough to defend itself. If they want to be a province of Russia, that’s their choice.
America is under no obligation to protect Europe from its own laziness and lack of prudence.
We should never have allowed "world opinion" suck us into "military humanitarian" missions.
Kosovo, Libya, Kuwait -- we should have said "The conflict does not strategically impact the US. It DOES seem like a good exercise for EU militaries. If you feel strongly that something should be done, we won't stop you, go ahead. If you see Russian armored divisions coming through the Fulda Gap, let us know and we'll be there. Til then, have fun."
I suspect mostly NOT. I don't know if there is any hope for Europe in military defense.
Americans want to live like Europeans - with free health care, ebt and cradle to grave welfare.
We see no reason why we should deprive Americans of creature comforts to subsidize lazy European slackers.
Americans want a taste of the la dolce vita lifestyle. They’ve earned it.
They are the biggest recipients.
Of Uncle Sam’s welfare. Its time we began taking care of Americans at home.
“Kind of like the continental wide riot that will happen in America, when the welfare queens are cut off. “
I simply can’t picture even a Republican majority and a Republican president cutting off the welfare queens. Nobody has the b@lls. I’d like to be wrong on this, but there have been plenty of Republican majorities with the required Republican president over the last 30 years...and nothing got cut. Instead we got the EPA the Education Empire and even more entitlements.
We’re building a European welfare state. The old American exceptionalism is dead.
It works for them so we might as well crash the party. If they’re jealous, tough luck.
I would have cut Europe off from the “free defense” gravy train a LONG time ago, the socialism there would have collapsed a lot sooner...
After the soviets fell I would have left Europe.
Why are we indirectly subsiding socialism in Europe anyways?
damn straight they are.
And why do they complain we’re going down the same path? The ingrates have no standing to complain after all the American blood, sweat, tears and treasure poured on Europe.
We want to live the “good life” like they do. Let them take care of themselves.
As much as it kills me, Obama is right. They need to provide for their own defense. They had 70 years to build up their defense and military strategies. If we move to protect them, they would call us war mongers. We can’t win either way.
“It works for them so we might as well crash the party”
It only works for them because they hardly spend a dime on defense. I think it was Churchill who said, “We can have a strong military or we can have a socialist state. But we can’t have both.”
We’re doing the same thing. We’re reducing defense spending. I see no reason for us to do more than minimum to protect America from an unlikely foreign invasion. In any case, there’s not much we can or should do about Europe.
I meant to include that Europe will have to raise taxes or cut their nanny state to pay for an increase in defense spending.
You are right. No one has the stones to do that. What I was thinking of, is that a total economic meltdown is about the only thing that will cut them off. When that happens, the fight is on.
Any/ALL POTUS and every Congress should issue the ultimatum: Kick it up to 3% and meet strict readiness and capability criteria set by the US JCS, or we’re withdrawing from the NATO treaty in five years.
In fairness to Obama NO ONE can convince the Europeans to pay for their own defense. That wonderful free universal health care isn’t cheap.
And remind me again why its the USA’s job to confront Putin?
You appear to suffer from the illusion that tax increases always raise revenue. Europe is way over the wrong side of the Laffer curve. They need to cut taxes and regulation, and they need to jump start their economies by developing domestic energy sources. They can also educate their populace to understand that hard work is a virtue and that laziness is dragging their Continent into the sewer.
Not gonna happen, so it’s Alpha Mike Foxtrot for them.
That was sarcasm.