President Obama, referring to Europe as a cornerstone of U.S. security, wants Congress to authorize a $1 billion slush fund for European security. I doubt Thomas Jefferson would have agreed with the president. Quite simply, we are decades past the time Europe should be funding its own defense. The president is using the catchy phrase “European Reassurance Initiative” to put his plan forward. Obama is on the wrong track, as Cato Institute’s Chris Preble clarifies here.
Americans seem to be awakening to the folly of foreign military intervention. After all, how tragic have American interventionist efforts been in Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya? See any winners there? History does not support the value of military intervention, never mind outright nation building. The American people did not support the president on Syrian intervention and, we can only hope, will speak up to keep the U.S. out of any form of military adventurism in Eastern Europe, notwithstanding the president’s catchy tag line.
President Obama is in Poland today, a visit that coincides with the 25th anniversary of that country’s liberation from communism. His four-day European tour will include a D-Day remembrance, meetings with G-7 leaders, and a possible encounter with Russian President Vladimir Putin in France, all while the crisis in Ukraine rages on.
Moments after stepping off Air Force One in Warsaw, with F-16s as a backdrop, the president sought to reassure our European allies, stating that America’s commitment to their security was “a cornerstone of our own security and it is sacrosanct.” He detailed the increased support America has provided, including a larger presence in the region, and later announced that he would ask Congress to fund a “European reassurance initiative” to the tune of $1 billion.
This is exactly the wrong approach. American taxpayers have been subsidizing the defense of European allies for too long. And they have reacted as one would expect—by spending less.
In fact, only three NATO countries – Estonia, Greece, and the United Kingdom – spent the NATO-mandated 2 percent of GDP on their defense in 2013, and even those three barely met the threshold. That is compared to the United States, which spent 3.7 percent of its GDP on defense, a figure that excludes national security spending in the Departments of Energy, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs.