In an article from the Wall Street Journal on Saturday, June 11, “Gates Questions NATO’s Future”, Gates makes a speech in Brussels decrying that the U. S. provides 75% of the funding for NATO. The Europeans don’t shoulder their part of the burden. The U.S. has doubled its defense spending since 2001. In Europe it has fallen by 15%. He even accuses the countries on the Continent of trying to get a free ride.
He complains about the Netherlands, Spain, Poland, and Turkey by name. He never mentions Germany under Merkel, no doubt because that’s what he’s really talking about and it wouldn’t be politically correct. Of all the nations in NATO, next to the U.S. itself, Germany has the biggest economy and could shoulder the biggest burden.
Gates alludes to countries in Europe that spend all their money on a “cradle to grave” social welfare system instead of spending money on defense. The Germans were the ones who invented the socialist welfare state. It’s been there during many administrations and changes of government from Bismarck to the Kaiser to Hitler himself. (Remember that Nazi is a slang word. The real term for Hitler’s party was National Socialist).
I wouldn’t be surprised if the system was taking shape back during the time of Frederick the Great. Remember, this is the land where socialism actually works unlike Anglo countries such as Britain and the United States. When they complain about national health care they come up with failing examples from Canada, France, and England. They never mention Gemrany.
Bismarck, the Kaiser, Frederick the Great, and Hitler were all leaders who started wars, all leaders who depended on Germany’s Prussian military establishment where they invented the modern idea of the standing army. You notice that socialism in those days didn’t prevent Germany from engaging in massive military build ups such as the one that Hitler was supervising in the 1930’s. First Hitler got the capitalist economy back on track. Then he signed a Naval Treaty with Great Britain, and the rest was history.
Historically Germany can do both at the same time as you would expect, but they lost the will to do so after they were defeated in World War II. What’s curious is that the U.S. expects Germany to be defeated but somehow not to care. Just because the Americans have discovered that they can’t manage Europe without Germany’s cooperation doesn’t change the situation.
They are competing with us on the economic front by inventing the euro and building up the second biggest economy in the western world. But Germany’s Prussian miltary tradition is in abeyance within living memory of the last war when they were firebombed and invaded. Only after waiting forty-five years did they finally manage to reunify East and West Germany.
The fallacy for Americans, I think, is to under rate what World War I and World War II meant for Europeans, especially Germans. Henry Kissenger had it right, not Gates, when he said that leaders on the Continent can’t ask for sacrifice. The people adamantly refuse after losing so much to war.
It is now up to the United States and the United States alone to bear the military burdens of defending the free world. When Gates was silly enough to warn that the “U.S. won’t underwrite the defense of Europe forever”, he was making a fool of himself. Of course they will as long as they carry the mantle that they got in 1945. To throw off that mantle — remember it was England losing the mantle that enabled World War I and II to take place to begin with — would surely mean World War III.