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All you have to do is ask…

February 16, 2020

Back in August of 2019 I responded to a question on Quora, “How can we stop the USA from initiating WW3? Why should Europe bleed for the third time?” Given Quora’s tendency toward “everything that is bad is the fault of the US” type questions, I gave what I thought was a reasonable answer. To wit,

I should think this one rather easy. All the wonderfully enlightened European voters should demand their equally enlightened political leaders inform the US government that US military forces are no longer welcome there and that henceforth, all European nations will see to their own defense. We bring our troops home and you folks can handle things with your normal competence and aplomb. See? Easy.

The responses ranged from agreement to games of “yes…but” that would make Eric Berne proud. Recently, someone responded to my answer and provided a link to a recent article in Stars and Stripes, which references a Pew poll of citizens in 16 NATO countries. Short version: most people in a majority of those countries believe

  1. the US would use force to protect NATO countries from attacks by Russia, but
  2. those countries should not use force to protect other NATO countries from such attack.

Those countries in which the majority belief is that member nations should use force to protect other member states? US, Netherlands, Canada, United Kingdom and Lithuania.

I am a Cold War era veteran. NATO and the expectation that members would meet their military obligations was part of the calculus of every planner I new when I was on active duty. If the Pew poll results are to be believed, those days are gone. Forget Donald Trump and the need for NATO nations to pay their share of the upkeep of the alliance. Of far greater importance is the apparently waning support for the very idea of NATO.

Perhaps it is time for the United States to recognize that many of our allies are such in name only. Even more, perhaps we need to seriously reconsider the extent to which we are willing to squander our resources on those who are increasingly feckless.

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