Terms of Engagement
What do U.S. officials and politicians mean when they speak of greater allied burden sharing? In the Cold War days, it meant contributing to the collective defense by raising the allies' military spending and/or helping the United States defray the costs of its extensive overseas deployments. On a policy level, there was the additional desire that the West Europeans support U.S. diplomacy in areas (the Middle East, the Persian Gulf) where the United States saw itself doing the hard slogging. Implicit in this analysis was the premise that the allies contentedly remain as junior partners willing to defer to U.S. leadership. An increase in the shares they held in common enterprises would not appreciably reduce Washington's prerogatives as CEO.
So long as the Soviet threat loomed, there was ready justification for the United States to hold tightly onto the reins of Alliance policy. Now that all-embracing argument for the claim to U.S. primacy no longer is available. The search for an equivalent rationale for protecting a position of paramountcy was not fruitful. The correct formula is all the more elusive for the value placed on the right to be discriminating in deciding where and when the United States invests its power and influence. The United States wants allies who can make substantial contributions, financial and manpower, either by serving as adjuncts to a U.S.-directed operation (as in the Gulf) or, where appropriate and convenient, handling a problem on their own (as in former Yugoslavia). Toward satisfying these purposes, the allies are encouraged to maintain military forces suited to a wide range of contingencies and to put into place mecha-