politicians from both parties in the US have professed many opinions on NATO in the past few weeks. I think a European perspective is due.
First of all, dear Republicans please stop using Europe as an excuse for enacting your own insane policies (European mismanagement of ghettos is really not the reason to oppress your own citizens with police bigotry mr. Cruz). It was you who started the war in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Vietnam and what is Europe dealing with now is the result of your war on terror.
Secondly, when talking Republican let’s look at the claim that NATO is obsolete as proposed by mr. Drumpf. The North Atlantic Alliance was indeed created in post-WWII Europe in order to protect Western Europe. Without NATO the Soviet Union would easily take over the west as quickly as it did of the east. At the time US presence was vital, because weakened Europe, destroyed by war, would not stand a chance alone. It is true that the US then payed the majority of the bill. Let’s not forget though that the US rarely does anything selflessly. The Cold War was a geopolitical conflict featuring the Soviet Union and the US as the main stars of the show. Therefore the US had a vested interest in NATO. I am not afraid to say that it has so today too. The US and Russia are not friends. The Cold War is not over. It has just turned into a clandestine operation involving few more players. It doesn’t matter whether they fight a proxy wars in Syria or bully each other’s ships in the Baltic sea. Since 1993 the Russian Federation has involved itself in numerous conflicts either directly or indirectly in places like Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The one thing these places have in common is that they are not in NATO. Russian aggression is real and undeniable, so calling NATO obsolete is ludicrous. If Ukraine was in NATO it would never have to face the current situation. Of course you can ask : why doesn’t Europe do something about it then ? Why does it need America ? Russia controls over 140 million people that can be all rallied up towards one goal (Soviet Union has shown that). Europe is fractured among dozens of nations, many of which have only several million inhabitants and each need to follow it’s own democratic processes. That is why Europe alone cannot involve itself in such large scale conflicts.
There was another claim from Senator Sanders that European NATO members should pay more and the USA should not pay 70% of the budget. There is some debate over what the percentage is. There are in fact three separate NATO budgets and the US pays about 22% to each which then adds up. In 2013 the US payed 66,6% of the total budget. Now that surely sounds unfair. After all, EU has 28 members so we should put up more of the budget, but there is also another number to consider. Total population of EU is about 508 million people. US population is roughly 316 million. Now, call me crazy, but the 66% of the budget doesn’t sound that inappropriate. Major European countries like UK, France or Germany do put up a significant amounts of money and so the problem lies with all the small countries. If you have just couple of million people you cannot even dream of defending yourself against 140 million strong Russian bear and so it doesn’t really feel right to put so much money into the army. Nevertheless, there are many small countries that have great military budgets and therein lies the problem, because instead of NATO we are putting money into our personal armies which is money well-embezzled of course. So what Europeans should do is to change the way money going to the army is spend, not to increase the volume. Point taken Senator Sanders.
In the end, the US have much bigger geopolitical interests than the Baltic states for example. The Baltic states just want to be safe and not to end up like Ukraine (It has a reason to worry, Russia historically have always had a fetish for owning small countries around its borders). The US wants to be the world leader and all parties use NATO’s might appropriately, so I think there is really no debate about usefulness of NATO or even who should pay more.