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Pacifist Europe irks America

The Obama administration accused Europe’s leaders of endangering peace today because of their growing­pacifism and reluctance to foot the bill for adequate defence.

world Updated: Feb 25, 2010 01:17 IST

The Obama administration accused Europe’s leaders of endangering peace today because of their growing­pacifism and reluctance to foot the bill for adequate defence.

In a withering attack on what Washington sees as European complacency in the face of new security threats, Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, demanded root-and-branch reform of the transatlantic alliance, voiced exasperation with Nato bureaucracy and said it was becoming increasingly difficult for the US and Europe “to operate and fight together”.

Gates told a Washington meeting of Nato officials and security experts “the pacification of Europe” had gone too far.

“The demilitarisation of Europe, where large swaths of the general public and political class are averse to military force and the risks that go with it, has gone from a blessing in the 20th century to an impediment to achieving real security and lasting peace in the 21st,” he said.

“Not only can real or perceived weakness be a temptation to miscalculation and aggression, but … the resulting funding and capability shortfalls make it difficult to operate and fight together to confront shared threats.”