As well as a paucity of European military resources, NATO faces two other dangers, Mr Gates said. One is the passing of his generation of American leaders, like himself, for whom the security of Europe was the over-riding pre-occupation of their careers. The second is that America, itself under pressure to cut defence spending to curb high deficits and debt, might soon give up on Europe: if the European taxpayers do not want to pay to preserve their own security, why should Americans shoulder the burden? Only five of the 28 NATO allies meet NATO’s recommendation that countries should spend at least 2% of GDP on defence: America, Britain, France, Greece and Albania. Today America’s key security interests are in the Middle East and in Asia. Europe will be the obvious place for America to cut expensive overseas commitments.
The Economist: Charlemagne’s Notebook