Whither Burdensharing?

  • Simon Duke


The burdensharing debate will certainly change shape during the course of the 1990s1 due to the relative economic decline of the US (compared both to its previous wealth and its allies’ economic performance), the public perception of a diminished Soviet threat, and a coalescing Europe driven by the effort to create a single market by 1992. There are also less tangible factors which threaten to radically change Western security perceptions. The invasion by Iraq of Kuwait on 2 August 1990 posed a new problem for the US and its allies, and it also has burdensharing implications. Since ‘Operation Desert Shield’ fell outside the NATO area of geographical concern it was an ‘out-of-area’ issue. The traditional burdensharing arguments do not apply in quite the same way but, if the Western security commitment to the Middle East turns out to be a prolonged one, there will inevitably be more debates over who should support the defence burden implied in that commitment. The area may well be different, but the background factors remain the same. Lessons can be learnt from the burdensharing debate, as conducted in Europe, which are relevant elsewhere.


Official Development Assistance Defence Spending Defence Budget Defence Expenditure Warsaw Pact 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    For a detailed discussion of burdensharing in the 1990s see, M. Moodie, ‘Burden-Sharing in NATO: A New Debate With an Old Label’, Washington Quarterly, Autumn 1989, pp. 61–71Google Scholar
  2. and R. White Jr , ‘NATO’s Burden-Sharing Debate in the 1990s’, Parameters, March 1990, pp. 88–99.Google Scholar
  3. See also D. Greenwood, ‘Defense Burdensharing: European and Canadian Contributions to NATO’s Defenses’, in S. Sloan (ed.), NATO in the 1990s (Oxford: Pergamon/Brassey’s, 1989) pp. 175–93.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Quoted in John Lewis Gaddis, The Long Peace (Oxford University Press, 1987) p. 63.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    U.S. Congress, House of Representatives, Committee on Armed Services, Defense Burdensharing Panel, Report of the Defense Burdensharing Panel of the Committee on Armed Services, 100th Congress, 2nd session (Washington DC: GPO, Aug. 1988).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    See S. A. Cain, The Defense Budget Squeeze: Will Rapid R&D Growth Threaten Spending Choices! (Washington DC: Defense Budget Project, Aug. 1987) pp. 27–32.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    See for instance the Hearings before the Committee on Armed Services, House of Representatives, European Security Issues and the Cost of Defending the Post-INF Europe, 100th Congress, 2nd session, 15–16 Mar. 1988 (Washington DC: US GPO 1989), and, before the same committee, Measures of Defense Burdensharing and U.S. Proposals for Increasing Allied Burdensharing, 100th Congress, 2nd session, May 10, 1988 (Washington DC: US GPO, 1989).Google Scholar
  8. 18.
    J. Sharp, ‘Conventional Arms Control in Europe’, in SIPRI Yearbook 1990: World Armament and Disarmament (Oxford University Press, 1990), p. 477–8.Google Scholar
  9. 19.
    See S. Hoffmann, ‘The European Community and 1992’, Foreign Affairs, vol 68, Fall 1989, pp. 43–8 and R. Hormats, ‘Redefining Europe and the Atlantic Link’, ibid., pp. 71–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 22.
    National Security Strategy of the United States, The White House (Washington DC: GPO, March 1990) p. 10.Google Scholar
  11. 24.
    S. E. Rexach, ‘The Independent European Programme Group on the right path’, NATO Review, vol. 5: Oct. 1986, p. 25.Google Scholar
  12. 25.
    Figures quoted in D. Garnham, The Politics of European Defense Cooperation: Germany, France, Britain and America (Cambridge, Mass: Ballinger Publishing Co. 1988) p. 126.Google Scholar
  13. 30.
    R. Reagan, ‘Remarks by President to Worldnet’, (Washington DC: Office of the White House Press Secretary, 3 Nov. 1987) p. 5.Google Scholar
  14. 31.
    J. Walker, ‘Keeping America in Europe’, Foreign Policy, vol. 83, Summer 1991, p. 132.Google Scholar
  15. 32.
    See G. L. Williams, and A. L. Williams, The European Defence Initiative: Europe’s Bid for Equality (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1986).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Simon Duke 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simon Duke
    • 1
  1. 1.Pennsylvania State UniversityUSA

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