Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta attended an international security conference in Germany this weekend to reassure European allies that recent shifts in the U.S. defense priorities away from Europe will not mean an end to subsidizing the security of the entire continent.
The Obama administration has decided to withdraw two of the four Army brigades stationed on in Europe by 2014, but Panetta said that these changes indicate a “vote of confidence” in the future of NATO and reminded his audience that the U.S. military will still have a larger presence in Europe than in any other region of the world.
“That’s not only because the peace and prosperity of Europe is critically important to the United States, but because Europe remains our security partner of choice for military operations and diplomacy around the world,” he said. In other words, America will continue to subsidize European security in exchange for conformity and obedience to U.S. foreign policy.
Panetta tried to comfort European concerns, pointing to the fact that the U.S. is building a missile defense system in Europe, including a radar installation in Turkey and missiles to be stationed in Romania and Poland. He also said four U.S. warships capable of shooting down missiles will be stationed in Spain.
Clinton emphasized the importance of U.S.-European uniformity in approaching the world, pointing to the crisis in Syria as an example of where cooperation is needed to push for intervention. The war in Afghanistan, where European patience with their role in the NATO-led war is wearing thin, was not highlighted.
The Washington Post, reporting on the conference, noted the Obama administration was calling for “stepped up U.S.-European cooperation to isolate tyrannies like the Assad regime in Syria, promote democracy in the Arab World and beyond and repair damage from the global financial crisis.” This, even as the U.S. government props up tyrannies, promotes authoritarianism in the Arab world, and worsens the damage it has already caused in the global financial crisis.
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