President Barack Obama is fighting the Islamic State with a coalition without members. What are allies for?
Washington collects allies like most people collect Facebook friends. It doesn’t matter if the new “friends” enhance America’s security. Washington wants more allies.
Yet America’s allies do little for the U.S. Their view is that Washington’s job is to defend them. Their job is to be defended by Washington.
For decades Washington faced down a nuclear-armed power—the Soviet Union and then Russia—to protect the Europeans. The Europeans did essentially nothing for the U.S.
After 9/11 several European states contributed to America’s efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Neither invading the latter nor attempting to build a democratic central government in the former made policy sense, but some Europeans sacrificed on behalf of a professed U.S. interest.
However, Washington quickly repaid the favor, underwriting Britain’s and France’s foolish war in Libya. Now the Europeans want Washington to save Ukraine and “reassure” countries to the east. Yet the EU has a larger GDP and population than America.
With the U.S. now calling for assistance against ISIL, the continent has turned more frigid. No one seems interested in joining Washington’s air war, even Great Britain.
Washington’s Asian friends are even less helpful. For decades Japan wouldn’t help U.S. forces, even if they were defending Japan. That is finally changing, but there still is no good reason Washington to stare down the People’s Republic of China to secure Tokyo’s disputed claim to the Senkaku Islands.