Blunt speech has its benefits, and Secretary Gates’s warning to members of the NATO alliance, telling them that they are not picking up enough of the tab for their own defense, and that the United States could not forever be expected to cover for them, is entirely welcome to those who want to deal with reality when it comes to fashioning a forward-looking defense policy. I realize that it will take more than a mere speech from Secretary Gates to overcome the inertia of NATO allies, but it is a good start; here’s hoping that Leon Panetta will continue beating this drum when he takes over.
Increasingly, those who have long supported NATO–like me–have trouble continuing to justify its existence. It ought to go without saying that many of those who have long supported NATO–like me–would want to be able to point to evidence in favor of the alliance’s continuation, but for that to happen, NATO countries other than the United States will have to start picking up slack they have long pretended never existed in the first place.
In any event, there are few public servants willing to speak blunt truths in refreshing fashion these days. Alas, after June 30 of this year, there will be one fewer.