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European/U.S. Relations in NATO

June 14, 2011

Last Friday Secretary of Defense Robert Gates criticized European members of NATO for not investing enough in defense and relying too heavily on the United States military for support. Secretary Gates brought in to question the future of the Transatlantic alliance if European states do not take more of an active role. “If current trends in the decline of European defence capabilities are not halted and reversed, future US political leaders – those for whom the cold war was not the formative experience that it was for me – may not consider the return on America’s investment in NATO worth the cost” said Gates. He makes a good point here pointing out that many of the future policy makers in the U.S. will have grown up in world where the explicit defense of Europe during the Cold War was not their objective. The future of U.S. policy is focused on places like the Middle East, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and China. Most NATO countries spend less than 2% of their GDP on defense and future cuts are planned by most European states due to austerity. This could be seen as an opportunity for the European Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy to take more of a leadership role in the collective security of Europe, furthering integration.

 

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