Report: Europe Facing 'Irrelevance' as Nations Slash Military Spending

Monday, 22 Apr 2013 11:05 PM

By Greg Richter

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European military spending has been cut so much that it is endangering NATO’s viability, mission and relations with the United States, The New York Times reports.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen warned two years ago that the countries had cut a combined total of $45 billion – equal to Germany’s entire military budget. It has only gotten worse in the interim.

Last year saw the first time that military spending in Asian nations was higher than that in Europe.

“We are moving toward a Europe that is a combination of the unable and the unwilling,” Camille Grand, a French military expert, told the Times. “European countries are continuing to be free riders, instead of working seriously to see how to act together.”

Europe’s aim to be more self-reliant is being hurt as financial and political support has dropped, the Times notes, quoting military experts who say European troops struggle with basic operations.

The United States would like to rely more on its European allies, but even Britain and France likely could not do their part in another Libya operation today. A few years from now, there will be no chance at all.

Without more spending on defense, senior American officials warn, European nations risk “collective military irrelevance.”

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