News / Europe

Financial Crisis Hits NATO Funding

Al Pessin

Europe’s economic problems are making it even more difficult for the continent’s governments to fund often unpopular defense programs.  That is threatening to hurt the NATO alliance’s efforts to upgrade its capabilities so it can respond to unexpected crises anywhere in the world.  

When the U.N. Security Council voted in March to launch a mission to defend Libyan civilians, there was only one military force that could handle the job: NATO.

The alliance was able to dispatch ships and aircraft to protect Libyan civilians, and ended up turning the tide of the uprising that ousted Moammar Gadhafi.

“Libya proved that there are no other choices.  When the U.N. decides on a mission, who else but NATO could take it over?,” said French Air Force General Stephane Abrial, NATO’s supreme commander for transformation.

But that capability is being threatened by Europe’s economic crisis, exacerbating the difficulty European leaders have had for years convincing their people that defense spending is important.

Former British defense official Daniel Korski, says Libya was a success for NATO’s transformation efforts, but Europe’s economic crisis and the budget-cutting effort in the United States could slow them down.

“We are living in an age of austerity, and people are cutting their defense budgets as much as they can, and in an uncoordinated fashion.  So we are really seeing a very varied agenda being threatened evermore because different nations are basically cutting to survive, rather than to build capability,” Korski said.

The former head of the European Union’s defense agency, Nick Witney, says it is not so much a lack of money as a lack of coordination, and of interest in defense issues among ordinary Europeans.

“We are not actually short of defense spending in Europe.  What we are short of is using it properly, spending it on the right things, spending it effectively together.  And we do not do that because we do not take defense seriously,” Witney said.

For General Abrial that is a problem, because he says it is impossible to predict where or when the next crisis will break out or what military capability NATO will need to address it.

“We need to be ready, we need to have the necessary capabilities available to face any kind of operation across the spectrum, and we need to have these forces and these capabilities readily available when crisis emerges.  We do not design the calendar,” Abrial said.

General Abrial says NATO needs more resources, more coordination and more partners to meet its ambition to remain the world’s premier defense alliance, and to develop new high-tech capabilities to defend against missile and cyber attacks.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid