It’s no coincidence that Russia is fighting an undeclared war in Ukraine as defense budgets are falling across Europe. Nor is it a coincidence China is pushing claims in the East China Sea as Japan’s defense budget has been essentially flat for decades. Both Russia and China are pushing on out of a sense that their adversaries are militarily weak and lack resolve.
All countries have every right to determine what level of defense spending they deem appropriate. The banding together of free nations, such as NATO, to prevent war is a tremendous asset to the United States and all involved. But if members fail to meet their commitments, collective security becomes a liability, not an asset.
Especially to the largest country pledged to come to the assistance of others, armed with nuclear weapons.
What if, emboldened by some of NATO’s member states, Russia decides to launch an attack on a NATO member? Russia is estimated to have about 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons deployed and ready for use. Would the United States challenge it with direct military force?