US Budget Woes Could Hit European Missile Defense

Saturday, 19 Nov 2011 07:05 AM

 

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink

WASHINGTON — A breakdown in high-stakes budget talks in Congress could threaten plans for a missile defense shield in Europe.

Negotiators have shown little sign they will be able to meet next week's deadline for reducing the deficit by $1.2 trillion. If they fail to agree, a new law mandates cuts throughout the federal government, including a big slice of the defense budget.

While it is not known what military spending would be cut, an expensive program aimed primarily at defending Europe is unlikely to be spared.

The U.S. sees the missile defense system, aimed at countering a threat from Iran, as part of its contribution to the NATO military alliance. With the United States often complaining that it makes a disproportionately large contribution to NATO, missile defense could be especially vulnerable to budget-cutters.

"A missile defense system for NATO? It's going to be hard to keep people committed if they think the U.S. is picking up the tab for Europe," says Kurt Volker, who was ambassador to NATO at the end of the George W. Bush administration.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has warned that the European missile defense program could be threatened if the special negotiating panel, known as the supercommittee, should fail to work out a deal. That suggestion, though, may have been intended mostly to nudge lawmakers to resolve their differences and avoid the automatic cuts to one of their favorite programs.

It is still possible that supercommittee members could set aside intense partisan differences and reach a deal by Wednesday. And if they do not, Congress might find a way to cancel the cuts before they take effect in 2013.

That may only delay the scaling back of the U.S. military role in Europe. A decade-long expansion of military spending appears to be coming to an end, and the Obama administration has indicated it is shifting its foreign policy toward Asia, where it sees the greatest opportunities and threats of coming decades.

"Where does that leave Europe? Lower down the list," says Todd Harrison, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

Beyond missile defense, the automatic cuts could prompt the U.S. to save money by shifting some warships away from Europe but probably would not lead to fewer U.S. troops there.

The United States has already reduced its presence in Europe from more than 200,000 in 1989 to slightly more than 40,000 today. It has plans for a further pullback by 2015 but is unlikely to accelerate that simply because there are no short-term savings to be had from moving troops out of their European bases.

"We can't take the remaining bases with us," says Christopher Wiley, an analyst with the Transatlantic relations program at the Bertelsmann Foundation who is preparing a report on the impact of budget cuts on U.S. policy in Europe. "It's not a good place to save cash."

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Country
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
 
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

Dershowitz: Jimmy Carter, Bishop Tutu 'Mainstreaming' Anti-Semitism

Tuesday, 30 Sep 2014 14:54 PM

By supporting Hamas, President Jimmy Carter and Bishop Desmond Tutu are bringing about the death of more Palestinian civ . . .

Cindy Sheehan: Obama May Be Worse War Criminal Than Bush

Tuesday, 30 Sep 2014 14:52 PM

President Barack Obama is a war criminal, as is former President George W. Bush , for their military aggressions around  . . .

Bill Gates Predicts Ebola Could Be 'Under Control' in 6 Months

Tuesday, 30 Sep 2014 13:33 PM

West Africa's Ebola crisis could be "under control" in six months, Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates pr . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, NewsmaxWorld, NewsmaxHealth, are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved