National sovereignty is the major obstacle to achieving this goal. Take it away and NATO will bomb any “rogue state” without reservation which, for example, Germany had during operations Iraqi Freedom and Odyssey Dawn. However, there are three potential ways of "encouraging" European nations concerned about diminished sovereignty to invest in Smart Defense.
First, the Smart Defense Concept (SDC) can reduce the maintenance cost of the army. It can be very alluring for the small European NATO members, since they do not have enough resources to maintain the standard three or four Armed Services even during times of economic upswing, not to mention in times of austerity.
Second, history suggests that only a common external military threat could unify different NATO members and significantly limit their sovereignty for the sake of mutual security. The emergence of China as a military power, the re-militarization of Russia, Iran’s nuclear program, all of these can pose direct conventional threats to the Alliance and can serve as a weighty argument for implementing the SDC as the only possible means of increasing common defense without spending more money.
Third, the implementation of the SDC can significantly strengthen the aggregate military power of each NATO member-state in the short term by specializing on some particular types of armaments. Even though the United States has an absolute advantage in the production of military equipment, it is still possible for each NATO member-country to occupy its own market niche in the sphere of military equipment. The United States could provide nuclear deterrence, space systems and anti-missile defense. Germany with its high-end Leopard-2 tanks might provide armored brigades for the Alliance. NATO might also establish a special committee with the aim of analyzing each country's comparative advantage in the sphere of conventional and non-conventional arms.
However, all these suggestions have intrinsic deficiencies. The reduction in the maintenance cost of the army can be beneficial for the small allies, but for larger NATO members such as Germany, France and the United Kingdom, the SDC is a highroad to inadequate military capabilities. The new common external military threat can trigger a new arms race, which the European Union will not be able to finance. The specialization on some particular type of armaments can consolidate the military backwardness of the European Union in the long-term, since the European NATO allies cannot produce high-technology military equipment.
Since the United States produces military equipment that cannot be competed with, the practical implementation of the SDC will result in the increased purchase of American armaments by European NATO members. The military-industrial complexes of Germany, France and the United Kingdom (and the whole European Union) will degrade even further.
The only way that the entire political SDC will make at least partial sense military for all NATO members is to establish a special NATO Coordinating Committee, in which all members of the Alliance will have a right to decide on how certain multinational projects will be carried out in proportion to their defense expenditures. Certainly in the beginning the United States will have a larger say, but in the long run this specific mechanism could allow for closer cooperation among European regional military powers to offset American influence in NATO, by increasing their defense expenditures and developing their own military potential.
What is ironic is that in contrast with to the "pooling and sharing" doctrine of the European Union, the SDC will not encounter any particular problems leading to its implementation. The reliance of the European Union on American military aid during the last sixty-seven years assumed the nature of drug dependence. Unable to defend its interests militarily in an increasingly realistic world, the European Union will have to adopt the SDC as the only viable option to improve its defense capabilities in the short term without investing much money. Although it is a semblance of security, there are very few chances that Germany, France or the United Kingdom will uphold their own concepts of defense: their national interests became too venal long ago.
Dmitry Lifatov holds a degree in Area Studies from the Russian National Research University - Higher School of Economics. Now he studies accounting at the Moscow University of Finance and Law.