Saturday, June 11, 2011

Courting irrelevance

Robert Gates has been a fine Secretary of Defense, and he has done one last service for his country by warning that Europe is courting "collective military irrelevance" by its low level of defense spending. He is of course being polite: Europe is already militarily irrelevant, as it showed in the former Yugoslavia and is showing again in Libya. For sixty-five years, the United States has acted as Europe's defense department, to the point where we now pay 75 percent of NATO's operating costs.

This would matter less if we had another president than Barack Obama, whose fondest wish seems to be to turn the United States into another sweet-tempered European society. Even his military successes (shooting three Somali pirates, assassinating Osama bin Laden) have an ominous tone, showing the same sort of fascination with Special Ops that marked Winston Churchill's management of a declining British military. If you can't put an army in the field, you send a commando team.

Europe has prospered under the American military shield. But whose shield will protect the United States? Blue skies! -- Dan Ford


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