Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Jim Thomas: The end of the ‘Uncle Sugar’ era means we must reformulate our alliances in Europe and elsewhere

Someday Jim Thomas is gonna be under secretary of Defense for policy or an NSC bigwig, so you might as well start reading him now. He has a very strong piece in the new issue of The American Interest about how to reformulate American alliances. We’re going to have to change the way have thought ...

davisommerfeld/Flickr
davisommerfeld/Flickr
davisommerfeld/Flickr

Someday Jim Thomas is gonna be under secretary of Defense for policy or an NSC bigwig, so you might as well start reading him now. He has a very strong piece in the new issue of The American Interest about how to reformulate American alliances.

We're going to have to change the way have thought about our alliances for the last 73 years, Thomas says, because we can't afford to keep playing Uncle Sugar. Also, the military realities are changing, with more potential adversaries acquiring high-tech weaponry that will enable them to establish what he calls "keep-out zones."

So, he says, members of the eastern part of NATO and some other allies will ned to "assume greater responsibility for the initial defense" of their territories. As part of this, we will need to help them develop their own "anti-access capabilities." This would mean a major reorientation of our arms merchants, he continues, and so, "Instead of always reaching for the next level of technological innovation , America's defense industry might have to focus more on making systems more affordable for U.S. allies."

Someday Jim Thomas is gonna be under secretary of Defense for policy or an NSC bigwig, so you might as well start reading him now. He has a very strong piece in the new issue of The American Interest about how to reformulate American alliances.

We’re going to have to change the way have thought about our alliances for the last 73 years, Thomas says, because we can’t afford to keep playing Uncle Sugar. Also, the military realities are changing, with more potential adversaries acquiring high-tech weaponry that will enable them to establish what he calls “keep-out zones.”

So, he says, members of the eastern part of NATO and some other allies will ned to “assume greater responsibility for the initial defense” of their territories. As part of this, we will need to help them develop their own “anti-access capabilities.” This would mean a major reorientation of our arms merchants, he continues, and so, “Instead of always reaching for the next level of technological innovation , America’s defense industry might have to focus more on making systems more affordable for U.S. allies.”

Meanwhile, he says, members of the old school part of NATO should ensure they have power projection capabiltities to aid their eastern neighbors.

In South and East Asia, he wants to see “shared access” to bases, rather than permanent “Little America” garrisons. And he puts India at the top of his list of new U.S. allies.

I’d be interested in what JT thinks we should do about Pakistan now.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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