U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has condemned the “pacification” of Europe. Speaking to a meeting of NATO officials and security experts, Gates declared that “The demilitarisation of Europe, where large swaths of the general public and political class are averse to military force and the risks that go with it, has gone from a blessing in the 20th century to an impediment to achieving real security and lasting peace in the 21st.” (Ian Traynor, “‘Pacification’ of Europe is threat to security, US tells Nato,” Guardian, 23 February 2010. See also Robert Burns, “Gates: NATO, in crisis, must change its ways,” Washington Post, 23 February 2010).
Gates also chastised the European members of NATO for what the U.S. considers to be inadequate military spending: “Not only can real or perceived weakness be a temptation to miscalculation and aggression, but … the resulting funding and capability shortfalls make it difficult to operate and fight together to confront shared threats.”
In 2008, the latest year for which NATO data are available, the European members of NATO spent about $300 billion on their combined militaries, about half the amount the United States spent. The 28 members of NATO (U.S. included) account for about two-thirds of the entire world’s military spending–or twice as much as all the other countries in the world put together.
Photo by Harald Dettenborn