Friday, June 10, 2011

Gates Blasts NATO, Questions Future of Alliance

In a stern rebuke, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned Friday that the future of the NATO military alliance is at risk because of European penny-pinching and distaste for front-line combat. The United States won't carry the alliance as a charity case, the outgoing Pentagon chief said. 

Some NATO countries bristled, but Britain quickly and heartily agreed.
Gates' assessment that NATO could face "a dim if not dismal" future echoes long-standing concern of U.S. policymakers about European defense spending. But rarely, if ever, has it been stated so directly by such a powerful American figure, widely respected in the United States and internationally.
The remarks, at the close of Gates' final overseas trip, reflect a new reality of constrained American finances and a smaller global reach.
Earlier in the week Gates played "bad cop" to U.S. President Barack Obama's good, criticizing Germany's abstention from the air campaign in Libya two days after Obama lavished an award and fancy White House dinner on visiting Chancellor Angela Merkel.
But Gates spoke for the Obama administration, and his warning Friday was aimed squarely at Europe's priorities.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates says America's military alliance with Europe, which has been the cornerstone of U.S. security policy for six decades, faces a "dim, if not dismal" future. (June 10)

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