The annual Munich Security Conference is regularly the scene for the complaints of American official and semiofficial participants deploring Europe’s failure “to pull its weight” in defense, “free-riding” on American efforts, and failing to spend more money on trans-Atlantic arms purchases. Instead they spend money on their own-make arms and military aircraft, such as the French Rafale and EADS’ Eurofighter, which they sell to such overseas markets as India that might otherwise buy American.
Courtesy restrains the European participants from asking what the threat is, against which Europe is being defended by the United States. The complaint reasonable Americans usually make in this matter is that the U.S. is massively over-armed against any existing or plausible future threat to the United States itself.
Surely 11 nuclear carrier groups with accompanying support is not required to fight the remnants of al-Qaida, nor have they proven decisive against the Taliban in Afghanistan.