Beyond American Hegemony: The Future of the Western Alliance
By David P. Calleo
Basic Books, 1987, 288 pp
The Limited Partnership: Europe, The United States, and the Burdens of Alliance
By Josef Joffe
Ballinger, 1987, 256 pp
Just when it again seemed that everything to be said about the West European-American alliance had been said, two important books appear, together framing the central issue sharply. Calleo's thesis is straightforward: under NATO, "the Europeans have been militarily underdeveloped while the United States has been militarily overextended." The answer is orderly devolution to Western Europe of more responsibility for its own defense, an argument Calleo has made on other grounds in earlier works. If the underlying argument is overdrawn-with decent economic management there is no reason why the United States cannot afford to spend six percent of its GNP on defense, although its citizens may choose not to-its central argument is more and more in fashion and needs to be confronted. For Joffe, a German who is culturally and even politically close to America, NATO is neither as "parasitic" to the United States nor as "oppressive" to European self-reliance as Calleo implies. Joffe is less optimistic than Calleo about a Western Europe with a diminished American role: he is less confident that Europe has transcended its history; by sparing Europeans "the necessity of self-reliant choice in matters of defense, the United States banished the systemic cause of conflict at the root of so many of Europe's past wars."