Hillary Clinton: NATO risks sliding into "military irrelevance"
May 2nd, 2013
02:02 AM ET

Hillary Clinton: NATO risks sliding into "military irrelevance"

By CNN's Mary Grace Lucas

A NATO alliance where member nations are hamstrung by political and economic difficulties may be a militarily weakened one, former Secy. of State Hillary Clinton warned Wednesday night.

"NATO is turning into a two-tiered alliance with shrinking percentage of members willing – and able – to pay the price and bear the burdens of common defense," Clinton said. "Even in these difficult economic times, we cannot afford to let the greatest alliance in history slide into military irrelevance."

Clinton was speaking at an annual Atlantic Council awards dinner in Washington where both she and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen were honored with Distinguished Leadership awards.

Clinton praised Rasmussen roundly for his work. But she didn’t shy away from the idea that NATO nations needed to think ahead about a more evenly-shared responsibility when it comes to security and readiness.


Clinton pointed to NATO’s participation in Libya as a success in terms of international partnership, but as an example where only certain member nations had the capacity to aid in intervention.

"We saw that fewer than a third of NATO members participated in strike missions," Clinton said.

She was quick to point out that many nations were willing, but simply lacked the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets to play a role.

While Clinton didn’t reference Syria directly, Clinton's comments come as NATO member nations like Turkey weigh the costs of stepping up intervention there.  Turkey has asked NATO members in recent months for military aid.

Rasmussen, who spoke ahead of Clinton, also focused heavily on NATO, but took a different tack.

He said that NATO is not merely a military alliance and called for increased coordination between Atlantic nations in the business realms as an avenue toward overall strength.

But he echoed Clinton’s call for an even lift of the alliance’s shared burden and for Europe's to become “the strong partner that America needs.”

“We may be divided by geography, but we share the same values,” Rasmussen said. “No country and no continent can deal with such challenges alone.”

Others receiving honors at the event included Chevron Chairman and CEO John Watson, singer Tony Bennett, and musician and social activist Juanes.

Organizers say the awards aim to honor people who represent what they call the pillars of the transatlantic relationship: political, business, arts, and humanitarian leadership.

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Filed under: Hillary Clinton • NATO • Rasmussen
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. black power

    NATO a racist agenda. America and its white country friends will fall. All powers eventually do.

    May 3, 2013 at 4:37 am | Reply
    • wjmccartan

      Let's just hope that you're right, black power. If NATO fell apart, it would be no loss to the rest of the world!

      May 3, 2013 at 10:32 am | Reply
    • sawolf

      Yeah and the africans will fill the power vacuum? At least the White Man's Science leads to technological progress and the hope of a better future. The black man's pathway? Look to our inner cities, chicago is a battlefield, detroit, unworkable.

      May 3, 2013 at 5:49 pm | Reply
    • christian_persecution

      Black power will fall.too

      May 8, 2013 at 9:13 pm | Reply
  2. massoud

    NATO is an extension of the US when it wants to do an end around the US Congress to intervene in the Middle East as witnessed in military action by the US in Libya, without a Congressional vote, the act of not having a Congressional vote to intervene clearly violated the War Powers Act as Libya posed no threat to the US.

    May 2, 2013 at 6:42 pm | Reply
    • wjmccartan

      Thank you, massoud. You said it all.

      May 3, 2013 at 10:30 am | Reply
  3. Pat

    We need the intell.

    May 2, 2013 at 3:16 pm | Reply
  4. Joseph McCarthy

    Did Hillary Clinton say that NATO was slipping into "military irrelevance"? Let's all hope so! This would be the best of all scenarios imaginable!

    May 2, 2013 at 12:14 pm | Reply
    • George Patton-2

      Well put, Joseph. I couldn't agree more!!!

      May 2, 2013 at 5:39 pm | Reply
  5. SayanIndia

    It might sound as a far fetched idea, yet Russian integration in NATO will rejuvenate the “hesitant alliance” and considerably broaden its operational sphere.

    However it will take considerable diplomatic effort, understanding, Confidence Building Measures (CBM) and reshaping of area of interests (both combined and individual) to enable the aforesaid alliance to take shape.

    Sayan.

    May 2, 2013 at 10:39 am | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy

      "Russia joining NATO"? Let's hope not! Hopefully, the Russians may believe in the old Irish proverb "If you shake hands with the Devil, you may not get it back". That seems to ring true in so many countries which do no more than carry out orders from Washington D.C.!

      May 2, 2013 at 12:19 pm | Reply
      • Pat

        Tell me you are not an american.

        May 2, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
      • George Patton-2

        Like you said Joseph, getting Russia to join NATO is a truly horrific idea. That would put the whole of Europe squarely into the hands of the right-wing thugs in Washington and no truly sane person would want that!!! Good posting.

        May 2, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
  6. Thinker

    The purpose of NATO. America in, Russia out and Germany down. Said enough.

    May 2, 2013 at 10:13 am | Reply
    • Travis

      Well put, Thinker. That's all very true! Without NATO, Germany could once again become a world power instead of meekly carrying out orders from Washington like the other wimp countries of Europe do!

      May 3, 2013 at 7:27 pm | Reply
  7. Steve

    We dont need NATO. We have enough troops stationed in Europe as is.

    May 2, 2013 at 3:38 am | Reply
    • USMC1371

      Too many what we need is some isolationism. Let the rest of the world deal with its own issues for awhile without big brother. We need the time to fix our own problems.

      May 2, 2013 at 5:30 am | Reply
      • wjmccartan

        Well put, USMC1371. I fully agree.

        May 2, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
      • Pat

        So true.

        May 2, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
      • Pete

        @usmc1371,yah the same for foriegn aid,if there's nothing to trade off let them take care of themselves..Isreal is one that doesn't need US and with Netanyahu he's more of a problem then its worth and if they need money go to their Jews in America and Adelson as one won't mind giving some of his dirty money would he to help!!We have enough problems in our house, take care of US before taking care of them!!

        May 2, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
      • sawolf

        The fantasy of isolationism led to the US being dragged into WW I and WW II. "Those that forget History...

        May 3, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
  8. USMC1371

    Ok since nato is impotent lets go ahead and drop out. NATO is nothing but a leach on the American tax payer. What has it done to stop any of the violence around the world?

    May 2, 2013 at 3:15 am | Reply
    • sawolf

      Contained the soviets for 50+ years, the west europeans made their land a socialist paradise while the US picked up the cost. Illustrates that although western europe is elegant and beautiful, it's basically being crushed by the financial burden of paying for those who don't work or are unproductive.

      May 3, 2013 at 5:56 pm | Reply

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