There is an unmistakeable sense among Western decision-makers of power slipping away.
It’s not an argument about American abstention or decline, although that plays into it for some critics of the Obama administration.
It is more to do with the exhaustion – moral, political and economic – of nations that have been in the forefront of the international security business, and the vibrant ascendancy of some other players.
Talking on Monday to Anders Fogh Rasmussen, secretary general of Nato, he can see the reasons for austerity, for cutbacks in government spending in order to reduce deficits, but he can also see its likely results.
“It means,” he says, “we will have less influence on the international scene. The vacuum will be filled by other powers and they do not necessarily share our interests and our values.”
It might be argued that a rejection of force by Western countries is a temporary phenomenon following the losses of two difficult foreign wars, and an economic downturn that has forced an emphasis on cutting deficits.
But the reduction of spending by Nato countries is just one aspect of this power shift – indeed it is the lesser aspect of it compared with the increases in military spending by countries like China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
In a survey to be published on Tuesday by the analytical company IHS Janes, it is estimated that defence spending by non-Nato countries will outstrip the Western alliance by 2021. The figures show that Saudi defence spending has tripled in the past decade and that China’s spending will by next year outstrip that of the UK, France, and Germany combined.
Similar patterns emerge in the annual surveys of think tanks such as the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, which will publish its annual round up of world military standings later this week.
Full article: Nato’s Anders Fogh Rasmussen sees power slipping away (BBC)