It was always about burden sharing

It’s easy to pick on President Trump for his treatment of allies, given his willingness to call out countries like Germany for not spending their fair share on defense. It’s also easy to gloss over the fact that Europe has taken for granted a strong US presence that guarantees security. Relying on the US to be the muscle in any fight is one thing, but purposely passing the buck and not defending your own nation is another.

Not anymore. An op-ed in the Norwegian news site DN.no written by Professor Janne Matlary outlined a new policy spelled out by the new Secretary of Defense Mark Esper:

“Secretary Esper’s message to NATO countries were that “if you receive infrastructure that we [USA] are building, it’s just fair that you are paying for it”, and Matlary states that the same policy will be valid for Norway and the building of new shelters at Rygge Airport. Matlary states that European countries (including Norway) have avoided the self-imposed 2 percent goal while at the same time believing that burden sharing is limited by that number, now challenged by Secretary Esper’s new policy. Professor Matlary also referred to Ambassador Braithwaite’s NATO op-ed in VG on August 12, asking if Norway’s security should be more important to American tax payers than for Norwegians. She is puzzled the Ambassador has not received any response, asking if Norwegian media and politicians are taking United States for granted, or if it’s too unpleasant to respond to.”

We need allies in any future fight. That is a given. But allies are worthless if they can’t do the basics of providing for some sort of defense of their own country. It would take the US some time to muster forces to defend or possibly liberate any European country, and the fact that Norway, like many other countries, has taken a constant US presence for granted is sad. Our alliances should not be an excuse to stand quietly by while other countries avoid burden sharing.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.