The blunt reality is that there will be dwindling appetite and patience in the U.S. Congress – and in the American body politic writ large – to expend increasingly precious funds on behalf of nations that are apparently unwilling to devote the necessary resources or make the necessary changes to be serious and capable partners in their own defense. Nations apparently willing and eager for American taxpayers to assume the growing security burden left by reductions in European defense budgets. - US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates
Ever thus, to American military types.
Readers are invited to consider the following words, which may not mean what Secretary Gates believes they mean - "increasingly precious funds"; "on behalf of"; "serious"; "defense" and "security burden", amongst others.
Let's note that, rather than suffering a severe spending squeeze, the American military is the one area of government expenditure that can never be lavish enough. The US armed forces cost roughly as much as the rest of the planet's military budget combined. The possibility exists that it's the Americans, rather than the Germans, who are misallocating their resources here.
Further, while it's touching that Gates has such great concern for our well-being, I suspect that American interest in European security issues may not be entirely altruistic. No doubt they wish us well and worry about our safety, but I imagine they'd like us to build massive military capabilities so that we can help them bomb the hell out of various non-European countries, for purposes that range from "dubious" to "insane".
And that word, "Defense". They spell it differently and it means more or less the opposite of what is implied. If readers can explain in what way invading and occupying Iraq and Afghanistan or bombing Pakistan and Yemen constitutes "Defence", I'm all ears.
Of course, Gates is basically pissed because Norway is about to withdraw from bombing Libya, because its tiny air force needs maintenance. Readers are also invited to suggest ways in which bombing Libya represents some vital contribution to the defence of Europe, because I'm struggling to think of a single one.
The only reason that was proffered before we started was that failing to bomb Libya would lead to a flood of refugees across the Med. As it turns out, bombing Libya has achieved much the same result.
Update!: This New York Times editorial, which explicitly accuses Europe of freeloading off the back of America's amazing military might, is a graphic example of a political/media class that has long since departed the realm of reality and is on an outward trajectory for the planet Bugfuck Nuts.
"What if they had to fight a more intimidating enemy than Colonel Gaddafi?", they ask. A more intimidating enemy? Like who?
Updated Update!: It occurs to me that, since the Americans clearly believe that each and every one of their military catastrophes is a critical priority for NATO, and actively pushes its allies to adopt their priorities, then only an insane person would wish to be part of NATO. Ergo, the UK should withdraw from NATO, sooner rather than later.
Further, let's be clear on what the Americans are asking for, and what they aren't. Since they've historically opposed efforts by Europeans to set their own common defence policy, we can conclude that the US is interested in European security initiatives only insofar as they serve American purposes.
Thus, the Americans want us to beef up our militaries to assist in American military operations, so that their wars are less expensive in cash and casualties. Essentially, burn our own cash so they don't have to burn theirs and send European soldiers to be killed, so that fewer American soldiers are being killed, in exchange for... Uh, something.
This doesn't seem like a very good deal to me - Thanks but no thanks, guys.