Pillar or Pole? The Effect of Strategic Culture on Burden Sharing and the Future of NATO
44 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2013 Last revised: 3 Oct 2013
Date Written: October 1, 2013
Policy discussions on transatlantic security frequently focus on the topic of burden sharing, highlighting the imbalance between U.S. and European military expenditures. Alliance scholarship in the fields of international security and political economy offers plausible explanations for this imbalance, based on the perspectives of “balance of threat,” “institutional adaptation,” “security communities,” and “collective action.” We provide a theoretical explanation for states’ resource allocation choices that challenges each of these approaches on their own ground, arguing that a “strategic culture” perspective offers a more compelling explanation of resource allocation choices than any of the dominant approaches. We argue that the more states articulate their national security strategy in “Atlanticist” terms, the more likely they are to allocate resources to military operations. This is primarily because such an Atlanticist strategic approach implies that a state shares the United States’ conception of a stable, sustainable international order, and is willing to devote resources to maintaining that order, even when their own immediate territorial security is not at risk. We find evidence for this argument by using a content analysis of ninety-five national security strategy documents of NATO member states, and assessing the correlation between a state’s “Atlanticism” and its allocation of financial resources to military operations, as opposed to personnel, infrastructure, or equipment expenditures.
Keywords: burden sharing, strategic culture, NATO, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, operations, Atlanticist, Europeanist
JEL Classification: D74
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation