Reading the editorials of the New York Times is often a real trial: far too often they are an odd mix of empty homilies, irritating hedging, willed or unwilled ignorance, or lightweight analyses. This is particularly the case, of course, with regards to Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
For sheer mindlessness, though, it is hard to beat today's editorial,"Talking Truth to NATO," which castigates our European allies for not spending more on "defense." Why should they do so? Well, because "The Atlantic allies face a host of new and old dangers." Old dangers? What could that possibly mean except the threat of a Russian invasion? If that's what the Times means, say so, and let's discuss it. New dangers? What new dangers, let alone a "host" of them? The Times doesn't say.
Then there's the "free-rider problem," says the Times. The proof:"During most of the cold war, the US accounted for 50 percent of total NATO military spending; today it accounts for 75 percent" Could Europe be right and the US wrong in judging how much should be spent on the military, in light of the end of the cold war and the Soviet threat? Wouldn't another way of interpreting the same figures be not that Europe's military budgets are too low but ours are too high?
Of course, what the Times has in mind is Libya, where according to the editorial NATO's performance is "shockingly wobbly." Pretty strong. Suppose, as doesn't seem unlikely, the Quaddafi regime soon collapses, thanks to NATO's military effort?
Anyway, why should NATO have made a much greater military effort? Suppose there had been no intervention at all: just how would a continuation of Quaddafi in power have effected the security of Europe? The answer, of course, is that who governs Libya was not merely irrelevant to the "security" of either the US or Europe, but that there was a much better case that whatever the true national interests of either US or Europe,they were being served perfectly well by Quaddafi. Sure, he was a nasty son-of-a-bitch (quoting FDR), but for quite awhile he had been OUR son of a bitch. So if military action is to be judged solely on the basis of national "security," then neither the US nor NATO should have intervened at all.
In short, the issues in Libya are moral, not those of national interest, let alone national "security."
Finally, the editorial concludes that "every defense ministry in Europe" should be "frightened," because what would happen "if they had to fight a more formidable enemy?" Once again: such as who? Germany appears to be off the table. Russia, then ? Perhaps China? Please be specific and provide analyses of these new/old threats.