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Decoupling America from European Security

Updated: May 15

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Since the end of World War II, America has borne the brunt of European security costs. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) states that each member-state shall contribute no less than 2% of its GDP to fund the collective security of the European continent. Despite this, many European countries have become complacent in their financial responsibilities to the security alliance, forcing America to bear the majority of the financial responsibilities required to keep the alliance effective and operational. The collective failure of the European Union to meet the base 2% spending requirement has spurred concerns about the sustainability of the NATO alliance and the United States' burden of financial and military responsibility.

Operative Definitions

1. NATO: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was created in 1946 to counter the growing threat of the Soviet Union following the conclusion of World War II.

2. R&D: Research and development.

3. Military-industrial complex: The relationship between a country's military, defense industry and political circles.

Important Facts and Statistics

1. The 2% spending guideline was initially established in 2006 as a political mechanism to help defense ministries fend off budget cuts imposed by finance ministers.

2. Out of the 31 NATO member countries, only 11 are expected to meet the 2% spending threshold in 2024.

3. Despite being Europe's largest economy, Germany has often received criticism for its failure to meet the 2% spending target and is not expected to reach that target until 2031.

Three-Point Plan

(1) Fund a joint R&D program that would reinvigorate and assist in the development of a strong and independent European military-industrial complex. The U.S. and associated contractors would share expertise in weapons systems development. Such a program would be a large investment by the U.S. government but would help foster the emergence of an independent and capable Europe that would no longer suffer from the consequences and risks associated with outsourcing its military-industrial needs to America. 

(2) Create incentives for European countries to start spending the minimum dollar amount necessary to fund and maintain an independent and European-led military alliance.

Incentives could take the form of favorable trade deals such as heavily discounted liquid natural gas (LNG), tariff reductions on certain European products or export subsidies for European companies that export defense-related products to the United States.

(3) Gradually reduce America’s military presence and spending in Europe.

Over time and along with increased European defense spending, the U.S. should slowly reduce its own financial contribution and military presence on the continent as a robust and European-led security architecture emerges to replace the current, American-led status quo. 

Why this Initiative is Important

As the geopolitical climate becomes more and more turbulent, the U.S. is now in a position where it must choose where it wants to apply the majority of its influence. America will seek to ensure that it does not overextend itself by allocating resources to too many areas. Taiwan is of great economic and strategic importance to the U.S. government and will likely exhaust a large portion of America’s financial and military capability as the threat of a Chinese invasion continues to loom over the island. Of equal importance to policymakers is the state of Israel. The threat of a larger regional war in the Middle East carries dire economic consequences for the global economy at large. As a result, America has great interest in keeping a lid on the conflict in Gaza, diverting a sizable chunk of its resources to help secure one of the most unstable regions of the globe. 

In light of these conditions, America must separate itself from the current security architecture on the European continent to address more pressing concerns around the globe. This three-point plan outlines a fair and realistic pathway forward in achieving an independent and secure Europe while freeing America of its outsized financial burden.

Acknowledgment: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author.


NATO. “Defence Expenditures and NATO’s 2% Guideline.” NATO,

Iordache, Ruxandra. “NATO Chief Concedes ‘Valid Point’ of Spending Criticism as Allies up Defense Budgets.” CNBC, 14 Feb. 2024, Accessed 2 March 2024.

McInnis, Kathleen, et al. “Pulling Their Weight: The Data on NATO Responsibility Sharing.”, Feb. 2024, Accessed 2 March 2024.

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1 Comment

Great proposal! I wholeheartedly agree with the decoupling from the European security architecture, actually I recently wrote a opinion piece similar to this concept. It is nice to see other writers tackle the topic of the US role in global security. I tend to have more extreme opinions on the usefulness of NATO and American interventions worldwide but overall such a great piece. Very concise and direct as well.

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