The captain has left because the United States no longer believes NATO can contribute significantly against any serious global strategic challenges. An occasional bit player, yes: a partner with the will and capability to contribute significantly, no.

The officers don’t care because this generation of European leaders no longer thinks strategically. They are lulled by a cloudy security environment, divided by national priorities, and buried under the stream of short term concerns. (Of which the pending meltdown of the eurozone admittedly is an existential challenge.)

And the crew are in their bunks because European NATO cannot deploy more than 5 percent of the 1.7 million European troops costing over $260 billion annually. Even Europe’s limited Libyan operation only happened because the United States provided the electronic jamming, air defense suppression, 80 percent of the fuel, and most of the crucial surveillance, airborne refuelling and precision bombs.

NATO–or more specifically European NATO–has been overwhelmed by globalization. The problem is not external challenges but the inability of the European allies to adapt coherently to a globalizing security environment.