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NATO in short

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Araud took the opportunity of the visit of the U.S. members of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly to offer, in his typically plain-spoken fashion, a thumb-nail history of U.S.-French relations since World War II, including our different approaches to NATO. Recalling an Cold War bromide, Araud said that NATO"s original purpose had been "to keep the Germans down, the Russians out, and the Americans in." Its current purpose is -- for the newer central European and Baltic members, given their fear of Russia, "rational or not" -- to keep the Americans in. For other members, NATO provides a way to meet their defense -- without having to pay for it. Araud decried the abysmally low defense spending by the European allies. Among the Europeans, only the French and the British come close to carrying their weight, an exception which can be explained by their history as global powers, and their residual desire to exert influence. —— cable 07PARIS743

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