"Increasingly, without United States assistance, military experts said, Europe's armed forces have trouble carrying out basic operations as its dwindling financial and political commitment has derailed multiple initiatives intended to make the continent more self-reliant."
Alarmed by years of cuts to military spending, the NATO secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, issued a dire public warning to European nations, noting that together they had slashed $45 billion, or the equivalent of Germany's entire military budget, endangering the alliance's viability, its mission and its relationship with the United States.
That was two years ago. Since then, with the Afghan war winding down and pressure from the European Union to limit budget deficits, Europe has only cut deeper.
Now, as President Obama wrestles with his own huge budget deficit and military costs, the responsibility for keeping NATO afloat has fallen disproportionately onto the United States, an especially untenable situation as priorities shift to Asia.