Burying The Lede on NATO

Lost amidst the welcome news of British-French cooperation on military cost-sharing in some tough talk from their ministers of defense on NATO.

Lost amidst the welcome news of British-French cooperation on military cost-sharing in some tough talk from their ministers of defense on NATO.

Last week, British defense secretary Liam Fox pronounced that, “We cannot accept a bloated Nato organisation that is consuming far too much money for the output we are receiving. The fat needs to be trimmed away, because we’re not in NATO as a job creation project. We are there to ensure that it delivers what we need in terms of our combined security.”

In my New Atlanticist post, “NATO: A Fat, Bloated, Job Creation Project?” I confess my bemusement that these quotes were buried in the 13th and 18th paragraphs of reports by the FT and AFP.

Both reports indicate that Fox’s French counterpart, Herve Morin, shared these views.

So, the senior defense policymakers of the two most significant military players in Europe think that the tiny portions of their tiny defense budgets going to NATO is mostly wasted?  Now, perhaps having spent the last three years ensconced at a pro-NATO think tank has clouded my judgment but this strikes me as A1, above-the-fold, banner headline news.   At very least, it deserves a sidebar or off-lede treatment of its own.   But the average news consumer would surely have stopped well short of that point in the stories, once the writers started delving into the arcana of budgeting history.

I go on argue that, while not exactly off base, Fox is missing the forest for the trees.

FILED UNDER: Europe, Military Affairs
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    NATO a fat, bloated, job creation project?  Blow me down!  Next they’ll be telling me that the UN is a fat, bloated, job creation project.  The things people will say.

  2. Tano says:

    Can we maybe assume that Fox, newly installed as a member of a government that is committed to cutting and slashing government spending, feels the need to say a few things to demonstrate that he is “with the program”. And that everyone (especially the journalists) understand that it really doesn’t amount to much more than that, and therefore can be justifiably buried in paragraph 13?
     

  3. It seems to me that any serious attempt to cut NATO waste would likely INCREASE European defense spending, as the most obvious bloat in the alliance is the fact that the US is expected to provide most of the miliatry defense for a continent of western industrial powers.