February 25, 2024

Recently, the term “ally” has been often reported upon in the media. Lawmakers have worried that President Trump is weakening our partner Ukraine and have questioned his decision to forsake our Kurdish “allies” in northern Syria. On the other hand, President Trump has said again that “our friends take advantage of us much larger than our opponents,” and the United States has announced reductions in its support for shared spending at the NATO headquarters in preparation for the December NATO Leaders Meeting.

The importance of having a “list of united states allies 2022” is something Americans have heard a lot about, but what does it mean to be an “ally” of the United States? And why are the kinds of partnerships seen as crucial to American safety so fraught with tension?

How did the United States come to form these alliances?

George Washington said in his farewell speech, “It is our real policy to stay clear of lasting alliances with any section of the foreign world,” because of the advantages of America’s position distant from other centers of power and with seas on each side.

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However, after World War II, American officials realized that to keep the nation secure at home, the U.S. would need to control dangers overseas, before they reached the American homeland. As a consequence, leaders decided to forge a series of treaty alliances to build a common front against communist encroachment. It has a Mutual Defense Treaty with the Republic of Korea (ROK) that it signed in 1953, and it has a Security Treaty with Japan and Australia, and New Zealand (ANZUS) that it signed in 1951.

The United Government established its alliance system on the assumption that it could better defend its global interests by bolstering the capacities of like-minded states and forming a web of collective defense agreements. The answer is yes; it has. The “liberal international order,” a U.S.-led system that promotes democracy, market economies, the rule of law, and respect for human rights, has been supported by America’s allies in Asia and Europe for the last seventy years.

Define “treaty ally” and “non-treaty ally.”

A formal definition of an “ally” is a nation that the United States has pledged to protect in the event of an attack. There are certain nations with whom the United States has strong relationships but which are not allies. There is no official alliance with the Kurds in Northern Syria, but doing so would pose moral and strategic concerns. Ukraine is not a recognized ally of the United States like Poland or Estonia, despite receiving U.S. help for many years. This is because the United States has made no treaty commitment to its defense.

U.S. allies: do they chip in where it counts?

Since the beginning of the United States’ alliance system, the topic of how to establish “fair” burden-sharing agreements has persisted. Since Dwight Eisenhower, every U.S. president has criticized NATO for not doing enough to contribute to the common defense. At the same time, the Nixon administration pushed its Asian allies to increase their involvement in self-defense beginning in the late 1960s. U.S. politicians pushed more vigorously for allies to bear a bigger portion of the expenses of collective security as they became economically stronger and more democratic in the 1970s and 1980s.

Costs associated with keeping U.S. soldiers abroad have also been the subject of “burden sharing” talks. Trump has said that nations should “either pay the United States for its magnificent military protection or defend themselves.” To be clear, the United States does not send its armed personnel abroad as private security guards for other countries. The United States can safeguard its people, stop piracy, discourage violent extremism, and stop nations like North Korea and Iran from trafficking illegal weapons because of its global defense network. Allies of the United States participate actively with the United States in these activities.

For what benefit does the United States participate in these pacts?

While the United States has relatively modest formal military obligations under its treaty allies, the security gains it receives, as a result, are substantial. The United States and its allies routinely cooperate in areas like information sharing, joint training and exercise participation, and the use of shared weapon systems, resulting in a force that is more formidable than the United States could ever be on its own. Since WWII, the United States has been involved in every major military battle, and its allies have always fought with them.

Beyond the military sphere, the United States gains enormous advantages from its relationships. U.S. political agendas like punishing Iran and North Korea’s illegal weapons programs and giving financial assistance for rebuilding operations in Iraq and Afghanistan get backing from America’s friends. To promote open and equitable international norms in areas like digital governance and cyber security, the list of united states allies in 2022 is engaging with allies like Japan. To put it another way, U.S. leadership throughout the last seven decades could not have been achieved without the help of U.S. friends.

Imagine a future where we no longer have any allies:

President Trump’s frequent claims that the United States has carried too large a weight in sustaining its allies have put a severe strain on those relationships. The president’s language ignores the tremendous military, political, and financial benefits afforded by U.S. alliances, even while it is important for U.S. leaders to participate in conversations about cost-sharing and duties with alliance partners.

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Just for a moment, imagine what the last seventy years would have been like if America didn’t have any friends. What role would NATO have had in the United States’ ability to win the Cold War? Without its partners, the United States would have had to bear far higher expenses in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. To counter rising authoritarianism and challenges to the rule of law, the United States relies heavily on its network of alliances, which has historically had widespread bipartisan support in Congress and among the American people.

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