While the euro-crisis has resulted in a significant amount of misery and anxiety across Europe, it has prompted some European governments to do something the U.S. Congress will not do. In light of the economic situation many European governments are reducing the size of their militaries. Italy, Spain, Greece, and the U.K are all taking steps to reduce spending on military expenditure.
Of course the U.K is the only European country to have contributed heavily in Afghanistan and Iraq, but even European countries that are not currently engaged in wars still have sizeable militaries. Ben Vickers from Bloomberg explained the odd size of some European militaries:
Between 2003 and 2007, Greece, with a population of just 11 million, was the fourth-largest arms importer, behind China, India and the United Arab Emirates, according to Sipri. Greece was the top client for German arms exports, taking 11 percent of the total, Greg Viscusi reports. The Greek military has 136,000 personnel – that is more than Spain but for a population a quarter of the size. It has been spending more on its soldiers as a proportion of its economy than any other EU member for ten years.
Why Greece, a country whose 21st century military exploits includes contributing one hundred and twelve soldiers to ISAF in Afghanistan and one frigate to the Libyan blockade needs a military of 136,000 people is baffling.
Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party presidential nominee, has pledged to cut U.S. military spending by forty three percent. Many might think this reduction extreme until one considers that such spending reductions would scale our military back to its 2003 size.The U.S. could easily afford to make these cuts and it is remarkable such cuts are not being considered in the current economic situation.
One of the main arguments for the existence of the European Union was that without some sort of political union Europe would eventually descend back into internal warfare. Anyone looking at the situation in Europe in the last twenty-five years can see that this argument is absurd. Thankfully, it looks like some European leaders are accepting that large established and mostly unused militaries are a detriment to economic prosperity. Too bad American politicians are not doing the same.