LibLink: Paddy Ashdown – Europe’s free ride on the back of Nato is over

In today’s Daily Telegraph, former party leader Lord (Paddy) Ashdown writes on the challenges facing Nato and the future of European cooperation on matters of defence.

Here’s a sample from Paddy’s piece:

These are confusing times for supporters of Nato. On the one hand, the alliance has completed its mission in Libya without a single casualty. On the other, its future looks less certain than ever in the face of fiscal austerity, increasingly uneven burden-sharing between members, and America’s dwindling faith in its utility.

The fact that the US feels this way is understandable. In 2000, America’s share of Nato defence spending was around 50 per cent. Today, it has risen to 75 per cent. With peace at home, many European nations have redirected spending towards other priorities, free-riding off the US when it comes to threats overseas. And this problem is set to get worse, since every European Nato member is set for severe defence cuts – including France, whose own equivalent of Britain’s defence review begins next year.

This decline in capability has come about not just because we are spending less, but because we continue to spend badly. Military funding is channelled through dozens of separate national programmes and structures, creating enormous duplication and failing to achieve economies of scale. While Europe has half a million more military personnel than America, it can deploy just a fraction of them overseas.

Nato is also being weakened by changes in US foreign policy: as the then defence secretary, Robert Gates, said earlier this year, his country is starting to look west as much as east. What America sees in Nato is yesterday’s vision of the future: allies with declining capabilities, reluctant to put troops in harm’s way, and an institution ill-suited to addressing US interests – especially with defence cuts looming in Washington as well.

To see where this is leading, consider what happened in Libya. After the initial air strikes, the US played a substantial but supporting role, encouraging Britain and France to lead the operation. As a result, the mission suffered from significantly reduced firepower, with less than a quarter of the planes used in Kosovo, flying less than a fifth of the sorties, and ammunition running dangerously low. As in Bosnia in the 1990s, it exposed how poorly equipped, organised and prepared Europe is for serious and sustained missions, even in its own backyard.

You can read the whole piece over on the Telegraph website here.

 

Read more by or more about , , or .
This entry was posted in LibLink.
Advert

11 Comments

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • Martin Frost
    Some questions from this alleged libertarian? How many of the pro-mask studies refer to the use of paper masks and their effectiveness? Those I have read re...
  • Lorenzo Cherin
    Brilliant level of effort from Matt , hardly surprising, but needed! And much the same here, from Cassie, with articulate defence of Liberal not libertarian...
  • Jeff
    expats 25th Oct '21 - 6:00pm: …thanks for your ‘Why Vote Leave’ link..I’d actually forgotten how much ‘rubbish’ it was… Rubbish ...
  • matt
    @Jeff Thank you for posting that. Considering the state our public health system is in at the moment an 18% reduction in infections for "mask wearers" in ...
  • Peter Martin
    @ Martin, "WTO rules mandate that tariffs for the EU are the same as for other countries." No, they don't, because we have a FTA with the EU bu...
Thu 28th Oct 2021
19:30