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Thread: Defense Secretary Warns NATO of ‘Dim’ Future

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    Defense Secretary Warns NATO of ‘Dim’ Future

    From today's edition of The New York Times:

    Perhaps most significantly, Mr. Gates issued a dire warning that the United States, exhausted by a decade of war and dreading its own mounting budget deficits, simply may not see NATO as worth supporting any longer.

    “The blunt reality is that there will be dwindling appetite and patience in the U.S. Congress — and in the American body politic writ large — to expend increasingly precious funds on behalf of nations that are apparently unwilling to devote the necessary resources or make the necessary changes to be serious and capable partners in their own defense,” Mr. Gates said.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/11/wo...e/11gates.html

    IMO, this is an important speech. Secretary Gates sees and understands the big picture. Recognizing the magnitude and urgency of the challenges facing NATO, he did not evade addressing the tough issues.

    A number of large trends are underway:

    1. The U.S. and Europe have emerged from a financial crisis/severe recession that marked the most seminal event of the 2000s to date. The advanced nations were already facing looming fiscal imbalances, and the financial crisis/severe recession exacerbated those imbalances and made the timeframe for credible fiscal consolidation more urgent (leaving less time and room for transition).

    2. An era of fiscal consolidation/austerity is now imminent. In parts of Western Europe, that era is now in its early stages.

    3. Once fiscal consolidation spreads to the U.S., defense expenditures will not be immune to any credible fiscal consolidation strategy. The Pentagon, like any other government agency, will be asked to rationalize its expenditures in a way it has not had to, achieve greater results per dollar of expenditures, and to become more focused. Secretary of Gates has already begun early efforts in that direction.

    4. In a bid to avoid deeper cuts to social welfare spending or greater tax hikes than would otherwise be the case, nations facing severe fiscal challenges have often refocused domestically. They have reduced overseas commitments, shrunk their ambitions and horizons, etc.

    5. A retreat from international commitments can have an adverse impact on the balance of power. The equilibrium can shift more in favor of radical or hostile elements. Hence, security risks can increase. The danger that nations wind up abandoning more critical interests is real. Yet, in a quirk of psychology, some can be tempted to adopt the false assumption that non-interventionism/soft isolationism can effectively substitute for a decline in their relative or even absolute power. In other words, 'if we pretend the threat does not exist and act as if it doesn't exist, then the threat won't confront us.' Few approaches could be more short-sighted. The run-up to WW II proved just how disastrously wrong that assumption was in the face of a balance of power that rapidly shifted in favor of Nazi Germany.

    Against that context, Secretary Gates is right to be concerned about the future of NATO should all NATO members not step up their contributions to the alliance. If NATO is increasingly perceived as weakening or ineffectual, its security credibility will wane. IMO, NATO's going beyond its founding principle to engage in regime change in peripheral situations such as Libya's civil war is a problem. It drains resources. It exposes limitations. It changes the calculations of hostile states.

    One cannot help but notice that Iran has now announced that it will be tripling the production of enriched uranium and shifting that production to its underground facility at Fordow. Syria has ignored all pleas for it to refrain from brutally quashing its political opposition. North Korea has again rattled the saber, threatening South Korea. The Taliban has shown little commitment for power-sharing in Afghanistan, as it perceives a battlefield situation that still leaves it opportunity to pursue a less constrained course aimed at regaining control of Afghanistan.

    Actual weakness or perceptions of weakness create problems. Secretary Gates recognizes that real problems exist. He raises the issue now, as the problems can still be addressed. Down the road, it will be more difficult to do so, especially if austerity becomes even more urgent should the U.S. largely delay credible fiscal consolidation.

    Henry Kissinger once observed the importance of acting early, even when challenges are ambiguous. He declared:

    Our security is not self-ensuring; our preferences do not automatically prevail; our interests and values require vigilance and effort if they are to survive. Indeed, as the world becomes more complex, our safety and well-being require more commitment at an early stage if the challenges are not to grow overwhelming. When the scope for action is greatest, the challenge is bound to be ambiguous. When the nature of the problem becomes unambiguously clear, the scope for creative action may well have disappeared. The task of statesmanship is to attempt to shape events according to a vision of the future, with the moral fortitude to act boldly when even consensus and certainty are often unattainable.

    Today's speech by Secretary Gates was a call for just such action. It was blunt, but exactly what needed to be said.

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    Re: Defense Secretary Warns NATO of ‘Dim’ Future

    I agree with Gates on this because "NATO" is usually code for "let the US handle it by themselves."

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    Re: Defense Secretary Warns NATO of ‘Dim’ Future

    For those who are interested, the transcript of Secretary Gates' speech has now been posted on the Department of Defense website. The transcript can be found at:

    Defense.gov Speech:

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    Re: Defense Secretary Warns NATO of ‘Dim’ Future

    Does not matter if you are talking about NATO or the UN the US usually has the leadership to handle these situations this is not the case with Obama as president.

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    Re: Defense Secretary Warns NATO of ‘Dim’ Future

    The threat of the combined power of NATO I believe has helped keep a lid on several potential hot spots in Europe and the Middle East and if NATO were to crumble it might create an atmosphere where trouble could break out.

    NATO has been in decline and has lacked needed commitment for some time, and I don't think Obama is the leader needed to pull them together to a renewed dedication to the principles it was formed to enforce.

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    Re: Defense Secretary Warns NATO of ‘Dim’ Future

    I believe in NATO, and the wider US-Europe alliance, its done a lot since the defeat of Nazi Germany and the containment of the USSR, but in recent times Europe has become a bit complacent and I think the US needs to substantially lean on Europe to take a larger role again, even if it rubs some of them the wrong way. A good way of doing it may even to start bring troops and funding back home, its effect are more real than a strong worded letter and it forces the host country to step up or do without that defense.

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    Re: Defense Secretary Warns NATO of ‘Dim’ Future

    Quote Originally Posted by donsutherland1 View Post
    Henry Kissinger once observed the importance of acting early, even when challenges are ambiguous. He declared:

    Our security is not self-ensuring; our preferences do not automatically prevail; our interests and values require vigilance and effort if they are to survive. Indeed, as the world becomes more complex, our safety and well-being require more commitment at an early stage if the challenges are not to grow overwhelming. When the scope for action is greatest, the challenge is bound to be ambiguous. When the nature of the problem becomes unambiguously clear, the scope for creative action may well have disappeared. The task of statesmanship is to attempt to shape events according to a vision of the future, with the moral fortitude to act boldly when even consensus and certainty are often unattainable.
    Kissinger is right but there is also of a generation of people out there who don't seem to realize that there are dangerous and organized people out there who could do harm to the democracies. I doubt Western Europe is prepared to meet any major challenges and in fact there seems to be a malaise entering all the democracies.

    People always seem to believe that things can only get better, that there is the only direction the world can take, and are not psychologically prepared for an economic downturn or a threat to the security of their nation.

    Gates, I feel is correct about NATO, and much worse could be said of the corrupt UN. There should have been something in the form of the Anglosphere organized many years ago where only free and democratic nations could join, and each would share equally in their defense.

    Anglosphere Primer

    It is probably too late for such an idea now however.



    Today's speech by Secretary Gates was a call for just such action. It was blunt, but exactly what needed to be said.[/QUOTE]
    Last edited by Grant; 06-10-11 at 12:21 PM.

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    Re: Defense Secretary Warns NATO of ‘Dim’ Future

    Quote Originally Posted by Councilman View Post
    The threat of the combined power of NATO I believe has helped keep a lid on several potential hot spots in Europe and the Middle East and if NATO were to crumble it might create an atmosphere where trouble could break out.

    NATO has been in decline and has lacked needed commitment for some time, and I don't think Obama is the leader needed to pull them together to a renewed dedication to the principles it was formed to enforce.
    I'm all for the concept of NATO, but I'm sick of having to do all the heavy lifting. If that's the way it's going to be, we might as well save our union dues and handle it ourselves.

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    Re: Defense Secretary Warns NATO of ‘Dim’ Future

    a very important thread

    1. fundamentally, nato's mission, its purpose---the protection of western europe from attack by the ussr and the warsaw pact---is and has been for quite awhile obsolete and defunct

    2. gates' proclamation that the alliance is paper, that the united states does and has always done almost all the heavy lifting, exposes the president's internationalist rationalization in libya as perfidy

    3. is it partisan to point this out, is it spin?

    4. gates' call, however, comes at a time when the member nations he's talking to are least disposed to listen, he's speaking rather oddly at cross purposes

    5. all that the secretary says about america's relationship with nato can be applied in spades to what goes down at the un, which also happens to be horribly stained with blood and corruption

    6. gates is departing, as you know, and he seems to be undertaking some kind of farewell tour, or such

    7. he's speaking out declaratively on afghanistan, the war obama escalated---the dod is strongly opposed to the white house's wanting a larger drawdown over there, starting in july, next month

    8. afghanistan, which in my opinion has not received the attention it deserves, is going to become a much bigger political issue, which it should be

    9. john kerry's foreign relations committee this week published a report it took 2 years to compile concluding our successes in afghanistan (mostly in the south) are "unsustainable" and that huge sums of money are being wasted, overwhelming local authorities who simply don't know what to do with it, fostering corruption and a national economic dependence on american aid

    10. kerry concluded that afghanistan will collapse economically if and when we depart, 97% of the troubled land's gdp coming from "foreign military and investment"

    11. rumors are that jfk is highly considered to replace hrc at foggy bottom (the state dept) when she heads off to the world bank

    12. gates also made headlines yesterday by pronouncing his firm expectation that al maliki in iraq is gonna ask us to stay, and we will
    Last edited by The Prof; 06-10-11 at 01:33 PM.

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    Re: Defense Secretary Warns NATO of ‘Dim’ Future


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