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NATO BURDEN SHARING
The NATO Alliance(North Atlantic Treaty Organization), founded in April 1949, dealt with many difficulties building a defense during peace time in order to put the Soviet Union at a political disadvantage. With an increase in Soviet military capabilities during the 60 s and 70 s the threat of nuclear war increased. This caused the NATO organization to face many economic and social costs in an effort to maintain sufficient deterrence of aggression in Europe. I chose to read a book by James R. Golden based on a study he conducted about burden-sharing among the democratic countries of the NATO alliance entitled NATO BURDEN-SHARING Risks and Opportunities. Golden states in NATO BURDEN-SHARING where there are strains in the maintenance of NATO, and how Germany is an important factor in the establishment of long-term stability. In addition to this, he investigates the origins of these strains, and finally whether he thinks it is feasible to redistribute efforts based on priorities within NATO. The intent of this essay is to show how Golden supports his views on burden-sharing within the NATO Alliance, and to finally give my personal view on this topic.
Each NATO member contributes financially, and with military defense, to the alliance based on how threatened they feel by Soviet Union, and the countries of the Warsaw Pact. According to Golden, one of the key strains within the NATO Alliance is the difficulty of measuring the amount of financial contributions given by each NATO member. On page 24 in NATO Burden-Sharing Golden writes:
Comparing the financial contributions of NATO member nations is difficult even when experts agree about what they are comparing, because definitions of defense spending vary widely, and amounts spent must be adjusted for inflation and corrected for shifts in exchange rates. Even if computations of defense spending are accepted, absolute figures don t reflect true national efforts because countries differ in size, population, and national output.
The result of the examination being that in the end there isn t an accurate way to assess what each member has contributed of themselves in relation to another, with statistics being so inconsistent. Compounded by the fact that accuracy in measuring contributions from member countries is not possible, Golden presents another problem: While NATO is obligated to its democratic countries, difficulties arise when help is requested from a member country, and although a request could be valid and necessary, the problem presents itself when asked how important the request is to the whole alliance, and what priority it should take in the many tasks that NATO has. Golden suggests that each country is persuing their own personal interests, instead of those of the whole NATO organization. This results in leading NATO to become decentralized, creating a weaker, more segregated alliance that will not be able to respond to foreign affairs (war or political issues) as quickly and efficiently as an alliance that is more unified. Golden s answer to this problem is for NATO to treat the burden of the member in accordance to how important it is to the whole alliance, taking into account how much it will help deter agression, cost, etc.
A third problem known as the free-rider problem consists in an environment where there are goods offered to all members. Free-riding takes places when one that does not contribute to the common interest of the whole is still able to enjoy the benefits of the labors endured by the group. Such an example would be a light house used for a boat to be able to direct itself in relation to the land, however, this does not prohibit other boats from using this light either. Another example would be an environmental group that fights against pollution, and yet everyone receives the benefit of clean air, although only a small minority gave of themselves to accomplish this. A possible answer suggested is offering a private good to motivate people to contribute to the common goal of the group. In the case of NATO, an example of a private good would be allowing a more active roll, consisting of a greater voice in political decisions, and taking part in the distribution of burdens. Another possible solution to the free-rider problem was presented by Senator Mansfield of the United States, who suggested that if other countries did not pull their weight, the Unites States should withdraw troops from Western Europe. This plan was never executed, and in the end, thought of to be inefficient, however it was considered. I happen to feel that this idea is probably would have been extremely harmful rather than helpful in any way to motivate other countries. I will explain my view on this later.
Germany played a significant role in establishing stability of NATO on many ways. In 1980, Germany was second greatest contributor in defense spending behind the United States, and accounted for about 21 percent of all of Europe s NATO outlays. At the time Germany has a $423 per capita defense spending, and a reserve force of 750,000. In addition to this, Golden states how Germany served as a host nation to the United States providing infrastructure through military bases, long-term housing, and medical aide. Germany prooved helpful by maintaining open communication with the Soviet Union, giving NATO insight on some of their plans. This was the result of a political process they used known as Ostopolitik, which entails seeking agreements to open possible areas for negotiations with Easter Europe. To add to the relationship that Germany had with the Soviet Union, it also had a good relationship with France, who is a member of NATO as well. Through their relationships with countries inside, and ouside of the alliance, Germany became an asset to NATO, helping East-West trade. Germanies history in contributing to NATO was exceptional, Golden points out, however, Germany did receive some criticim because of their reluctance to take much of a leadership role despite their high involvment in the alliance. Germany was referred to by Golden as a broker or mediator performing tasks, but not taking any initiative outside what was required or assuming any leadership responsibilities.
I feel that Golden presents some very good arguments, and highlighted some very important strains that arise in maintaining an alliance like NATO. On a personal note, I feel that the NATO alliance is extremely important to the security of Western Europe, and to the rest of the world because it not only serves as a method of containment, it serves as a promoter of democracy, and liberty. A decision to remove U.S. troops from Western Europe could result in severe consequences, mainly the destruction of any democratic alliance capable of defending itself from Eastern European states. In a book by Geoffrey Parker titled Western Geopolitical Thought in the 20th Century , Parker speaks of a man named Halfred Mackinder who designed what is known as the Pivot Theory , which later became known as The Heartland Theory . In this theory Mackinder refers to Russia as a natural fortress or the heartland , surrounded by mountains on all sides. This convenient geographic location allows for attacks to by extremely difficult on any foreign offenders. Because of such a protected, and stabilized location, Mackinder says that Russia could be used as a pivot point to spread out, taking control of the countries that border it (China, Middle East, Eastern Europe), also referred to as the rimland . Mackinder explains by saying :
He who rules Eastern Europe, rules the heartland, and he who rules the heartland, rules the world island, and he who rules the world island commands the world.
By occupying Easter Europe, and without NATO, the Soviets would easily be able to take Western Europe hence giving them control over the heartland. Once they have invaded Western Europe they could instate communism as the new form of government, and take control of all their resources, cutting off the United States, and badly hurting our economy because of the fact that 50 percent of our trade is with Western Europe, and the fact that they would not need to seek external assistance in obtaining any resources at that point. With our economy diminishing, eventually we would be come weaker than the world island and eventually be taken by them, hence giving them command of the world. Of course this is all in theory, and no one has ever had total control over the heartland or the world island for that matter, but it s not a theory in my opinion worth testing! The maintenance, and existence of NATO is critical to the security of the world.
Golden recommends conventional military a great form of defense in Eastern Europe, to deter the possibility of the use of nuclear warfare as a first option. I feel that nuclear arms build up is definitely something that is necessary, and should be an option in case of an attack, and with nuclear arms in existence, it makes it the heartland theory a lot more difficult, and almost idealistic, because any land or resources obtained serves the heartland ruler no purpose if gets nuked. Although I am not one for world destruction, the threat of mass suicide definitely makes both sides stop, and look for other ways to resolve their differences through negotiations, and compromise, which is the real intent here. Alexander Haig who was the Secretary of State was also in favor of an approach which involved many options for negotiations said, We must compete with the Soviet Union to protect freedom, but we must also search for cooperation to protect mankind. meaning that with an open mind, and the desire first to resolve a conflict on peaceful terms, then a there is not much of a need for a military defense, or nuclear arms, however without the desire to initially resolve a conflict through cooperation, we may have greater problems on our hands.
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