Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, the main governing body of the European Union, says
Dear America, appreciate your allies, you don’t have that many[.]
That’s true enough; we certainly don’t have that many who aren’t demanding to freeload off American blood and treasure for their defense while being unwilling to contribute much of their own to their defense.
Tusk tweeted soon after,
US doesn’t have and won’t have a better ally than EU. We spend on defense much more than Russia and as much as China.
What Tusk carefully, cynically, elided is the fact that most of the NATO nations won’t honor their own commitment to spend 2% of their GDP on their own defense—including in particular, Germany, whose “commitment” to increase their spending all the way up to 1.7% won’t be complete for two more years. He also carefully equated the EU’s spending with the NATO nations’ spending. Of course, any European schoolboy knows the EU is not a member of NATO, for all that many of its constituent nations are. It’s also clear that the EU really isn’t that much of an ally on matters of defense.
On the other hand, Tusk’s native Poland feels differently. That nation wants the US to permanently station an armored division in Poland—and they’re willing to commit €1.3 billion to €1.7 billion ($1.5 billion to $2 billion) of their own money to support the stationing. (Aside: we have 30,000 troops stationed in Germany; that would be a very good source of armor.)
Some complain that this would violate the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act, which bars stationing nuclear weapons permanently in NATO’s eastern border nations along with Russia’s commitment not to station nuclear weapons near its western border. However, those folks ignore the fact that Russia already has functionally abrogated the spirit of that treaty by stationing troops in occupied Crimea and occupied eastern Ukraine and in occupied parts of Georgia, and literally by beefing up its nuclear establishment in Kaliningrad and moving tactical nuclear missile units close to its own western border explicitly for targeting central and western Europe.
There are, though, now an additional five NATO nations (beyond the US, Great Britain, and Greece) who’ve raised their defense spending above their 2% commitment: Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Romania. Notice that: not long-free, complacent central and western European NATO nations, but those only recently freed from the Soviet Union yoke.
Maybe, instead of wasting time jawboning with nations that don’t care all that much about their own security, we should form a new mutual defense alliance centered on those eastern European nations, who still appreciate the blessings of freedom. And freeloaders like Tusk can be left free to see to their own devices without further American hektoring.