Transatlantic Shakedown: Does Presidential ‘Naming and Shaming’ Affect NATO Burden-Sharing?
35 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2019 Last revised: 30 Jan 2020
Date Written: May 1, 2019
Does “naming and shaming” of allies by US Presidents work? More precisely, does publicly criticizing members’ financial commitments to NATO increase allies’ defense spending and improve burden-sharing, or is it counterproductive, leading to lower contributions? We argue that the answer is likely neither. At best, excessive public shaming of allies is mere “cheap talk.” At worst, it is counterproductive. To evaluate this claim, we conducted textual analysis on all executive declarations, remarks, written statements, and media related to NATO members’ defense spending, all drawn from the American Presidency Project. We find provisionally that the more negatively US presidents speak about transatlantic burden-sharing, the less allies spend on defense. This finding addresses a gap in the current literature by analyzing the effectiveness of public “shaming” of allies in an attempt to redress burden-sharing problems endemic to alliances. Such actions do not appear to be effective, and may even be counterproductive.
Keywords: NATO, burden-sharing, presidency, defense spending, discourse, content analysis, transatlantic security
JEL Classification: C12, C23, C29
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation