Anne Applebaum wants the members of NATO to start pulling their weight:
Certainly it is long past time for NATO to become more rigorous about its membership. Some Europeans don’t want to pay for their defense? Maybe those who want to be covered by Article 5, the alliance’s security guarantee, should now be obligated to pay. Perhaps those who contribute less than 1 percent of their national budget should be told that the guarantee no longer applies to them. Certainly there don’t need to be any NATO bases in countries that refuse to contribute. And a much higher percentage of their military spending should go toward funding the NATO budget, so that NATO, as an alliance, can afford to pay for important operations.
NATO also needs to become a lot clearer about its goals. Europe has two immediate security issues: the threat from Russia in the east and the threat from Islamic fundamentalism to the south. NATO therefore needs two command centers, each of which would take care of planning and intelligence for defense against those threats. The basing of troops and equipment needs to be rethought completely: If we were starting from scratch, nobody would put them where they are now. NATO needs to shut down unnecessary commands and legacy bases, and move on.
Something to keep in mind about NATO: the target military expenditure for NATO members is 2% of GDP. Among NATO members only the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Turkey spend that much and, not coincidentally, those countries are the only NATO members able to project power beyond their own borders.
I don’t believe there’s any hope for Slovakia or Estonia’s spending more on their militaries. Why should they? They know we’ll defend them no matter what.
My own view is that we should be much more reluctant to intervene on behalf of other countries, particularly countries who won’t defend themselves, than we are and consider what purpose NATO actually serves these days. We may have our opportunity sooner than we might like. Despite our responsibility for the situation in Iraq, the “Pottery Barn rule”, etc. our European allies probably have more at stake than we do in what’s going on there. Given the issue, Security Council resolutions, and the stakes, this really seems like the right time to start putting together a joint effort for which NATO might serve as a starting point.
Just to reiterate my point of view for the umpteenth time, I don’t think our interests in Iraq warrant much intervention there but any intervention should be an intervention that achieves its objectives. Why put in any effort just for its own sake? Do or not do. There is no try.