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Poland Wants an American Garrison: Let Germany Do It!

June 7, 2018 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

For years American officials have variously demanded, urged, and
begged European governments to increase military outlays. For years
the Europeans have instead reduced their spending, manpower, and
procurement. There has been a slight uptick in their defense
efforts under President Donald Trump, but most NATO members,
including large and important nations such as Germany, Italy, and
Spain, aren’t coming close to meeting the official standard of
spending 2 percent of their GDPs on defense.

Now Poland, which fell just short of that level last year, is
requesting that Washington establish a permanent base and garrison.
Warsaw says it will kick in a couple billion dollars, while
Washington can pick up the change on its way to confronting
nuclear-armed Russia in a crisis.

But instead of sticking America with yet another tab, it would
make more sense for Poland to send its bill to Berlin. German
Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for European leadership on
defense. But her coalition partners won’t let the continent’s
dominant nation and biggest economy meet its military obligations.
The Germans should garrison their neighbor in return for the
cash.

The transatlantic alliance made sense when it was established in
1949. Western Europe was still recovering from World War II and
Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union was a cautious predator. The continent
required time to reestablish something approaching a reasonable
balance of power.

Before taking office
Trump seemed to understand that European free-riding was
counterproductive. What about now?

Still, Dwight Eisenhower, who served as NATO’s first
Supreme Allied Commander, warned against a permanent American
presence that would “discourage the development of the
necessary military strength Western European countries should
provide themselves.”

Allied outlays remained anemic even after the continent’s
recovery. The end of the Cold War triggered a rush to demobilize
while NATO expanded toward the new Russian Federation’s
shrunken borders—despite contrary Western assurances given to
Soviet and later Russian officials. Few considered how to defend
new members, essentially treating the alliance as a
gentleman’s club to which every respectable nation should
belong.

The Russo-Georgian war of 2008 and especially the 2014 conflict
between Ukraine and Russia have since reminded Europeans that NATO
is, in fact, a militaryalliance. Yet only
“new” Europe, as Donald Rumsfeld called it, seemed much
worried about Moscow’s intentions, demanding guarantees that
the alliance would hold off Vladimir Putin and his hordes.

“Old” Europe offered its formal assent but not much
more. Instead, Washington created a special budget line to augment
its forces in Europe. First came the European Reassurance
Initiative, which then morphed into the European Deterrence
Initiative. At $6.5 billion this year, the EDI spends more than
Belgium, Denmark, Romania, and Greece devote to their entire
militaries. Meanwhile, the pending …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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