O discurso do Secretário de Estado de Defesa dos EUA sobre o futuro da NATO em que questiona a própria viabilidade do futuro da aliança constitui um aviso muito sério à política de defesa europeia (os sublinhados são meus).
Neste discurso ressaltam as críticas às capacidades militares e à vontade política dos países europeus face ao conflito no Afeganistão relativamente ao qual refere "Despite more than 2 million troops in uniform – NOT counting the U.S. military – NATO has struggled, at times desperately, to sustain a deployment of 25- to 40,000 troops, not just in boots on the ground, but in crucial support assets such as helicopters, transport aircraft, maintenance, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and much more" (meu sublinhado), mas sobretudo uma avaliação durissima da actuação da Europa na Líbia, considerando em relação a esta operação que "it has become painfully clear that similar shortcomings – in capability and will –have the potential to jeopardize the alliance’s ability to conduct an integrated, effective and sustained air-sea campaign" (meu sublinhado) apesar de se tratar de uma operação com apoio político generalizado, não envolve tropas no solo e constituir uma zona de interesse estratégico para a Europa revelou "shortcomings caused by underfunding", destacando que apesar de "every alliance member voted for Libya mission, less than half have participated at all, and fewer than a third have been willing to participate in the strike mission. Frankly, many of those allies sitting on the sidelines do so not because they do not want to participate, but simply because they can’t. The military capabilities simply aren’t there". Advertindo que "The most advanced fighter aircraft are little use if allies do not have the means to identify, process, and strike targets as part of an integrated campaign. To run the air campaign, the NATO air operations center in Italy required a major augmentation of targeting specialists, mainly from the U.S., to do the job – a “just in time” infusion of personnel that may not always be available in future contingencies. We have the spectacle of an air operations center designed to handle more than 300 sorties a day struggling to launch about 150. Furthermore, the mightiest military alliance in history is only 11 weeks into an operation against a poorly armed regime in a sparsely populated country – yet many allies are beginning to run short of munitions, requiring the U.S., once more, to make up the difference".
Chamando a atenção para face à dificuldade em aumentar os orçamentos de defesa alterar as prioridades na alocação desses recursos elogiando os exemplos da Noruega, Dinamarca, Bélgica e Canadá mas deixando claro que se tratam de casos escepcionais no contexto da aliança ao afirmar que "The non-U.S. NATO members collectively spend more than $300 billion U.S. dollars on defense annually which, if allocated wisely and strategically, could buy a significant amount of usable military capability. Instead, the results are significantly less than the sum of the parts. This has both shortchanged current operations but also bodes ill for ensuring NATO has the key common alliance capabilities of the future." E advertindo que caso isso não seja feito a NATO enfrenta o sério risco de se tornar irrelevante num contexto em que as pressões orçamentais colocam limites ao orçamento de defesa dos EUA obrigando-o a (re)definir prioridades e alertando que "for most of the Cold War U.S. governments could justify defense investments and costly forward bases that made up roughly 50 percent of all NATO military spending. But some two decades after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the U.S. share of NATO defense spending has now risen to more than 75 percent – at a time when politically painful budget and benefit cuts are being considered at home. The blunt reality is that there will be dwindling appetite and patience in the U.S. Congress – and in the American body politic writ large – to expend increasingly precious funds on behalf of nations that are apparently unwilling to devote the necessary resources or make the necessary changes to be serious and capable partners in their own defense. Nations apparently willing and eager for American taxpayers to assume the growing security burden left by reductions in European defense budgets".