Power, Contribution and Dependence in NATO Burden Sharing

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This article offers three new types of variables for computation of the share that NATO countries should contribute to the common defence. I use Uppsala conflict data (UCDP) on conflict participation to reveal how the asymmetry in power that allows the US to define most of the framings on which NATO’s utility calculations are based, compensates for the greater material contribution made to NATO by the US. Then I follow Ringsmose’s model of NATO burden sharing and create two types of variables crucial to the calculation of burden sharing. One reveals the share of US military protection aimed at protecting its NATO allies. The other measures how much US global security efforts against tyranny and terror are dependent on NATO allies. These two variables are developed by means of computer-assisted discourse analysis of US Presidential Papers. The three new variables contribute to a more complex mathematical model on fair burden sharing, indicating at the same time that the imbalance between US and allied contributions is declining. If European allies have ever exploited the United States in the past, then at least the relationship has become more even during the past two decades.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-84
Number of pages19
JournalEuropean Security
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 13 Feb 2019


  • NATO
  • Burden sharing
  • deterrence
  • power
  • dependence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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