Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

NATO: Our International Welfare Queens

Posted by M. C. on March 31, 2022

So, if the regimes of Europe are ever going to stop being the world’s welfare queens—sponging off the hard work of America’s productive population—the US regime is going to have to be starved of defense dollars until the regimes of Europe are forced to go justify the cost of military defense to their own taxpayers.

Ryan McMaken

American policy makers have shown a surprising about of sanity so far in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. While some war enthusiasts among the American punditry have certainly been agitating for World War III, the leadership in both the White House and Congress has repeatedly and straightforwardly refused most calls to escalate the conflict.

Unfortunately, a number of foreign parliaments among the US’s NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) “partners” have not been nearly as hesitant to escalate matters. Among the most reckless on this issue have been lawmakers from a number of Eastern European states. For example, policymakers in the Baltics in recent weeks have called for a no-fly zone in Ukraine. Newsweek reported this month:

Lithuania’s parliament unanimously approved a resolution calling for a no-fly zone over Ukraine—joining other NATO members Estonia and Slovenia in the appeal. Rihards Kols, chairman of the Latvian parliament’s foreign affairs committee, also announced [on March 17] his country is calling for such a zone.

But here’s the problem: a so-called no-fly zone would be a de facto declaration of war on Russia by NATO. Moreover, when we say “by NATO,” we mostly mean “by the United States.” 

At around the same time, the Polish regime began its own scheme to escalate the war and bring the US into direct conflict with Moscow. Warsaw, apparently without consulting Washington, hatched a plan to send fighter jets to Ukraine via US military bases and then have the US “backfill” Poland’s air force with F-16s. This would have constituted a significant escalation as well, and was fortunately quashed by the White House.

This sort of behavior that free rides on the American taxpayer has become an identifiable pattern with countries that see themselves as benefiting enormously from US military spending but who contribute next to nothing to US security or even to the NATO alliance.

As a result, when Estonian lawmakers—Estonia being a country that has no air force at all beyond a few unarmed surveillance aircraft—want a no-fly zone, these people know it will be mostly somebody else who will fight, die, and sacrifice to pay for it all. “Someone else,” of course, will often mean American pilots and American taxpayers.

Moreover, the idea that these countries offer any sort of strategic advantage to the US in terms of defending vital American interests is implausible. The current war in Ukraine has well illustrated just how weak the Russian regime is in terms of projecting power anywhere beyond its immediate neighbors. The idea that Poland and Estonia serve as valuable “buffer states” between the US and a second-rate power like Russia is hardly convincing. These NATO members are simply not critical allies. Rather, they are net liabilities that may even end up forcing an escalation that draws the US into a war with another nuclear-armed power. The US’s pledge to defend Eastern Europe through organizations like NATO can at best be described as a form of humanitarian aid for member states that have nothing to offer in terms of vital American geopolitical benefits. 

Who Pays for NATO?

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