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Hagel On NATO


The NATO symbol and flags of the NATO nations outside NATO headquarters in Brussels on Sunday, March 2, 2014. NATO is calling emergency talks on Sunday regarding the escalating crisis in Ukraine. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

Events in Ukraine have made clear that Europe still lives in a dangerous world.

Events in Ukraine have made clear that Europe still lives in a dangerous world. "There is no post-modern refuge immune to the threat of military force," said U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, "and we cannot take for granted, even in Europe, that peace is underwritten by the credible deterrent of military power."

In the short term, the transatlantic alliance has responded to Russian actions with continued resolve. While Ukraine is not a member of NATO, and is not seeking NATO membership, Russia’s actions are still of concern to NATO members because over the long term, Russia is likely to test NATO's purpose, stamina, and commitment.

"Future generations will note whether at this moment," said Secretary Hagel, "we summoned the will to invest in our alliance. We must not squander this opportunity or shrink from this challenge. We will be judged harshly by history and by future generations if we do."

NATO members must demonstrate that they are as committed to this alliance as its founding members were who built it 65 years ago. They must reaffirm the security guarantees at the heart of the alliance. They must reinvigorate the unrivaled joint planning, exercises, and capabilities that are its lifeblood. And ultimately, they must be prepared to invest more resources in their militaries. Defense investment not only helps grow economies, but it deters the higher costs of future conflict.

But investing in NATO means more than just military investment. It means the U.S. and Europe must partner together over the long term to bolster Europe's energy security and blunt Russia's coercive energy policies. By the end of the decade, Europe is positioned to reduce its natural gas imports from Russia by more than 25 percent. And the U.S. Department of Energy has conditionally approved export permits for American Liquefied Natural Gas that add up to more than half of Europe's gas imports from Russia.

The United States remains committed to the NATO alliance. "Without deep engagement in the world," said Secretary Hagel, "America would face more conflict, not less - and on the terms of our adversaries, not on our own terms. That is why America's commitment to its allies - in Europe and around the world - is not a burden; it's not a luxury. But it is a necessity. And it must be unwavering."
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