Most of Nato’s members, including a newly exhausted Britain, blithely undershoot the group’s defence spending target of 2 per cent of gross domestic product. Nato’s founding purpose was to “keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and Germany down”, as the quip went. Only the German rationale has changed. In terms of foreign policy, however, Germany prefers to keep itself down. In spite of Russia’s annexation of Crimea last year, its defence budget is just 1.2 per cent of GDP.
It is possible that events will take a happier course. Greece may turn things around. Russia might decide to pull back from its incursions into central Europe. Should things continue to slide, however, America’s voice will need to become louder. Richard Nixon once warned of the US turning into a “pitiful, helpless, giant”.
In few places do his words fit better than in Europe today. In the past the US was indispensable. Today it is too easy to ignore.
That is from Edward G. Luce at the FT.