NATO Head Tells Europe Leadership and Burdens Go Together

You’ve probably never heard of Jaap de Hoop Scheffer but he’s my new hero. He’s secretary general of NATO and he’s got a message: Europe Must ‘Share the Heavy Lifting’ in Afghanistan.

He says it’s great that Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy want a greater voice in Alliance decision-making.  But he says that comes with a price:  Taking an equal risk. He is, of course, absolutely right.

Much more at the link, which is to a piece I wrote for New Atlanticist.

FILED UNDER: Europe, World Politics, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies 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.


  1. mpw280 says:

    It would be nice if Europe had the military capacity to do some of the heavy lifting. Since the end of WWII they have let us do all the lifting and let their ability to project power degrade to the point of non-existence. They don’t have helicopter, heavy air transport, refueling capacity or the will to do the dirty work. Good luck with NATO having any of its weight carried by old Europe, new Europe carries more weight now than old Europe can carry. mpw

  2. James Joyner says:

    Since the end of WWII they have let us do all the lifting and let their ability to project power degrade to the point of non-existence.

    Mostly true. They have the economic wherewithal to chance that. The problem is one of political will. Let’s just say I’m not optimistic.

  3. mike says:

    they have no reason or incentive to do more or to ensure their military is up to date – they know we will simply bail them out or lead the way – look at Bosnia – they did nothing substantial until we went in.

  4. dutchmarbel says:

    Jaap de Hoop Scheffer is the Dutch politician who got his current job as a reward for his pro-American attitude. Our PM denies that, but our PM also spent the last years trying to prevent a Parlementiary Inquiry about our militairy support in Iraq.

    De Hoop Scheffer wants an international carreer since he failed as pary leader in the Netherlands. The Netherlands aren’t big enough to have enough diplomatic power to secure the nice jobs, hence his loyal support for whatever position the Americans take.

    It’s kind of a tradition a guess. The CDA (christian democratic party) is a fusion of three christian parties, incl. the katholic KVP. Former SG of Nato, Luns, was a member of KVP and was less popular in the Netherlands for his pro-American view especially in relation to the Vietnam war. Luns was a better politician though (even if he was too conservative for the Netherlands)

    Europe spends plenty compared to the rest of the world, but it is used inefficiently because countries have overlap, or have systems that don’t work together. In the past the US has worked hard to prevent a European Defense cooperation since that was seen as a threat to the power of the US dominated NATO. Which means that a lot of work has to be done before various European countries can efficiently work together and do more than provide money, a few troops or other militairy resources. There still is a lot of politics going on about whom they woud work for though, and who are in charge.

    mpw280: You are really badly informed. What do you mean Europe has no helicopters etc.? I looked it up on our (Dutch) defense site and as a country with 16 million inhabitants we currently have Apache helicopters, Chinook transport heli’s & cougar helicopters in Afhanistan (amongst others). The whole ‘old’ vs ‘new’ Europe distinction is an artificial one, made by Bush, intended to distinguish the pro-American European countries from the more independept ones.

  5. mpw280 says:

    dutchmarbel, they may have some helos and tanks and what not, but how long can they sustain operations in a hostile environment (weather and getting shot at). Do they have the parts and support and the spares to continue operations for an extended period of time? Ask Canada about their
    reserves for their tanks and helos, they had to go and lease tanks and try and find spare parts and rebuilt heavy lift helos in a hurry. So while Europe may have some capability, they don’t have enough equipment to conduct extended ops and cover their needs at home as well. mpw

  6. dutchmarbel says:

    mpw280: So you said about Europe: They don’t have helicopter, heavy air transport, refueling capacity or the will to do the dirty work and when I showed that that wasn’t correct you respond with anecdotes about Canada (who have been there 6 or 7 years and have >100 soldiers killed) and continue with vague talking points.

    How long is ‘extended ops’, what kind of needs do the various European countries have to cover at home and are weather and getting shot really similar examples of an hostile environment? What you say is as concrete as your assumptions about an ‘old’ and a ‘new’ Europe.