Should Europe be more invested in protecting itself from an increasingly aggressive Russia?
Europeans are spending less and less on defense. Amid talk of broad military integration and the expansion of the EU to 28 member states with a cumulative GDP larger than that of the United States, one would expect a united Europe to be considered one of the most potent political-military powers in the world. This, of course, is not at all the case, as European and especially western European countries have continually pared back there defense budgets to remarkably low levels. NATO recommends that its constituents spend at least 2% GDP on defense. Among EU countries, as of 2012, only Estonia and the UK meet this target. By comparison, while also paring back defense spending, the United States still spends around 4% of its GDP on defense. The weakness of our European allies both ensures that they are less and less capable of engaging in minor operations around the world, in addition to growing weaker in the face of an increasingly aggressive Russia. Considering the number of troops the US feels comfortable committing to the region as it moves resources to Asia, the weakness of European forces condemn the results of a potential ground war with Russia over Ukraine or Poland to look increasingly bleak.
Western European states are a lot like pacifists. The pacifist is among the most contemptible sort of person. He consumes the security provided by others, while refusing to provide any himself. Any pacifist, when faced with an individual trying to kill his family and destroy his property, would unquestionably rely on physical action to subdue the threat. At the same time, pacifists ridicule those serving on the front lines. Thus, they effectively mock those protecting the pacifist from great bodies of violent actors. So long as others provide security, the pacifist can remain content with ridiculing those who do so much for him/her, while refusing to contribute him/herself to the common defense. Sadly, pacifists find that when they run out of others to sacrifice in battle, they must be the ones to fight or die . If their governments do not step up, ordinary Europeans will find that there is nothing standing between their cafes and the Russian army.
Jeffrey Schulman is a second year student, studying classics at the University of Toronto. You can check out his blog here: http://jeffreyeschulman.blogspot.ca