European Affairs

Soldiers Will Pay If We Don't Cooperate Better     Print Email

Director for International Policy, Raytheon Company and Chairman, U.S. Delegation to the NATO Industrial Advisory Group

Many of us on both sides of the Atlantic have worked long and hard to achieve what was envisioned by terms such as "the two pillars of the Alliance." During the Cold War, the unifying theme was the Soviet threat.

Even with that very real threat and its potential impact on our democracies, however, it was often very difficult to reach consensus - even in an era when politicians in Europe and in the United States well understood what it would mean to lose that struggle. In the end, we won the Cold War and we can rejoice in that, but can we now continue to forge a common future?

Europeans and Americans often say that NATO is the fundamental Transatlantic security relationship, and will remain so. Just one level below that, however, we start to diverge in understanding each other.

While Europe advertises its common security and defense policy as a building block for a stronger NATO, many Americans are suspicious of the policy's true motivations.

While the United States sees the Defense Trade and Security Initiative (DTSI) as a step toward better Transatlantic cooperation through the removal of export barriers, some Europeans think it is designed to make U.S. industry more competitive, and is a vehicle for imposing U.S. export regulations. How do we bridge this communications gap and build mutual confidence in our motives?

It seems that we are mostly in the "transmit" mode, rather than in the "receiving" or "understanding" mode. In fact, the case could be made that we do not have a technology gap, we have a capability gap. In this instance we don't appear to be capable of understanding each other, and, without understanding, it will be difficult to agree on common approaches or balanced compromises.

Unfortunately, there are other factors that are putting strains on the Transatlantic relationship:

  • Migration patterns do not form the same ties between the two continents as they did in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • There are fewer and fewer politicians or military leaders who have close and trusting Transatlantic relationships.
  • There are a diminishing number of leaders who understand, or have experience of, the post-World War II era and the important role NATO played in winning the Cold War.

In Europe, there is a much greater internal emphasis on EU enlargement, the euro and trade competitiveness. In the United States, the focus remains on national military superiority, global reach, and also on trade competitiveness.

There is less leadership on both sides of the Atlantic. Less energy is expended to reach common goals and the EU-U.S. trade relationship is increasingly strained.

While these are some fundamental changes that will ultimately influence the Transatlantic relationship, there are also some defense industrial challenges that will have to be overcome.

Here is what a Merrill Lynch analyst writes: "In the spirit of ïbeen there, done that,' the current debate [over defense spending] is reminiscent of the NATO burden-sharing debates of the 1970s and the early 1980s. Only this time, the debate has a distinctly industrial tone.

"Simply opening the U.S. market to European firms won't address the fundamental issue, which is the defense spending imbalance between the two regions. Why should the U.S. taxpayer fund defense technology development for European firms?"

The fact that Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder of Germany and President Jacques Chirac of France participated in the founding of the European Aeronautics Defense and Space Company (EADS) in Stras-bourg, demonstrates the political commitment to making the union of three major European aerospace companies: Aerospatiale MATRA, CASA, and DaimlerChrysler Aero-space (DASA), successful.

Similarly, the Defense Science Board (DSB) study to restore value to U.S. defense companies illustrates a similar commitment by the U.S. government to the success of American firms. Such commitments could be the real impetus for a Fortress Europe and Fortress America.

Both Europe and the United States truly see their mutual security and stability in a strong Transatlantic relationship. We need to find a way out of what increasingly appears to be a competitive or even confrontational stance. I would suggest some measures that could be taken to improve cooperation.

First and foremost, there must be more active leadership and engagement on both sides to restore good communications and understanding. The lion's share of this burden, however, falls on the United States as the leader of the Alliance and the remaining superpower.

It is up to the United States to take a stronger lead in explaining its positions, understanding European counterpoints, and forging consensus. Only with a common strategic umbrella can we resolve the many specific differences we may have in tactics.

There must be more equality in the commitment to common security. The United States represents 48 percent of NATO's total domestic product, but 61 percent of Alliance equipment spending and 79 percent of defense-related research and development.

Given that a European increase in defense spending will be more and more difficult with social requirements escalating, are there other contributions that Europe can make to support common security? It is up to Europe to show that it is pulling its share of the load.

Lastly, from a purely military perspective, the operational military must be more engaged in defining its requirements. If our forces are to be committed in coalition warfare and are expected to "interoperate" effectively, they must spell out their requirements for interoperability to those who acquire the weapons.

When I was in the Pentagon, we once had a difficult technology transfer decision. No consensus could be found until we asked U.S./Europe Command (USEUCOM): Do you want your European wingman to have the same capability as you do when engaging Soviet fighters? The answer was a clear "Yes," and we allowed the relevant American technology to be transferred to our European allies.

The bottom line is that it is the war-fighter, European and American, who will pay the ultimate price in the future if we fail to find ways to cooperate better now.


This article was published in European Affairs: Volume number II, Issue number I in the Winter of 2001.

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