NATO: Revisiting American Commitment
ARMY WAR COLLEGE CARLISLE BARRACKS PA CENTER FOR STRATEGIC LEADERSHIP
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The value of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization NATO to the United States has been questioned repeatedly since it was founded by the Treaty of Washington in April of 1949. What makes this topic worth revisiting now is that the original threat is gone, membership has expanded, operations have been conducted away from Europe, and a wave of austerity has swept through the member nations. The United States has shouldered a disproportionate amount of the burden of the other nations for many years. The percentage and cost of that burden have continued to rise. During the Cold War, the United States covered 50 percent of NATOs overall defense expenditures. By 2011 that level had increased to 75 percent. At the same time that the United States was shouldering the increased burden of underwriting Europes security, the Europeans were independently executing military and civilian out-of-area missions, slashing their defense budgets, and failing to adapt the alliance to a changing environment. An organization that cannot adapt in a 20-year period will not be relevant nor survive in the 21st century. The question to be addressed then is as follows Is the cost of underwriting European security still worth the strategic benefit to the United States There are serious challenges to the future of NATO. Level of ambition, national caveats, lost capabilities, the Turkey-Cyprus conflict, the European Unions Common Security and Defence Policy CSDP, and austerity may conspire to render NATO militarily irrelevant. The NATO alliance has failed to adapt and reform to meet the challenges of the 21st century. The strategic benefit to the United States of being a member of NATO may no longer be worth the commitment to the alliance. The United States should reevaluate its commitment to NATO, consider bilateral relationships as an alternative, and consider decreasing its troop levels and locations on the European continent.
- Economics and Cost Analysis
- Military Forces and Organizations
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics