Douglas Carswell

17 FEB 2017

Europe needs to recommit to NATO

NATO is supposed to be a partnership. Yet, for too long, European countries – including Britain – have effectively subcontracted their defence to the United States. That has to change.

We may be one of the few countries in NATO to spend anywhere near 2% of our GDP on defence. But it's a close-run thing. Numerous reports suggest that the MoD relies on some pretty creative accounting to meet the commitment.

Besides, 2% isn't a target. It's the bare minimum. Given that defence is one of the government's most basic responsibilities, you wouldn't think it would be something to skimp on.

Spending, of course, can be a bad metric. Much of the defence budget is wasted on overpriced equipment that doesn't work, delivered by a price-gouging contractor cartel that ministers and mandarins often seem only too happy to subsidise.

But there's a deeper issue here. Since the beginning of the Cold War, we in Europe have come to expect America to defend us. Consequently, our governments haven't taken defence seriously.

Now the danger of that complacency is becoming clear. Americans have come to resent supporting Europe's defence when Europe is not prepared to defend itself.

What's lacking is the right political will. Some European governments have gone to great lengths in the attempt to save the Eurozone. Imagine if they put the same effort into saving NATO.

Our safety doesn't come free. European governments may need to rethink their priorities.

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