Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel spoke at the Woodrow Wilson International Center Forum on May 2, 2014. He discussed strengthening NATO, in the context of Russia's annexation of Crimea and U.S. defense budget constraints.
Excerpt from remarks:
In meeting its global security commitments, the United States must have strong, committed, and capable allies. This year's Quadrennial Defense Review makes this very clear. Going forward, the Department of Defense will not only seek, but increasingly rely on closer integration and collaboration with our allies—and in ways that will influence U.S. strategic planning and future investments.
For decades, from the early days of the Cold War, American defense secretaries have called on European allies to ramp up their defense investment. And in recent years, one of the biggest obstacles to alliance investment has been a sense that the end of the Cold War ushered in the "end of history" – an end to insecurity, at least in Europe - an the end [of] aggression by nation-states. But Russia's action in Ukraine shatter that myth and usher in bracing new realities.
Even a united and deeply interconnected Europe still lives in a dangerous world. While we must continue to build a more peaceful and prosperous global order…there is no post-modern refuge immune to the threat of military force, 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. But over the long term, we should expect Russia to test our alliance's purpose, stamina, and commitment. Future generations will note whether at this moment - at this moment of challenge - 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 should also find creative ways to [help] nations around the world - to help them adapt to collective security, to rapidly evolving global strategic landscapes. Collective security is not only the anchor of the transatlantic alliance; it is also a model for emerging security institutions around the world, from Africa to the Persian Gulf to Southeast Asia. I say this having just convened a forum of ASEAN defense ministers last month and having called for a Gulf Cooperation Council defense ministerial this year.
These institutions bring all of our peoples, all of our interests, all of our economies closer together - serving as anchors for stability, security, and prosperity. Strengthening these regional security institutions must be a centerpiece of America's defense policy as we continue investing in NATO. As these institutions develop their own unique security arrangements, they stand to benefit by learning from NATO's unmatched interoperability and command-and-control systems.
There can be no transatlantic prosperity absent security, but we must also keep in mind that investing in our alliance and our collective security means more than just investing in our militaries alone.
It means the United States 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.
It means deepening our economic ties through new trade initiatives, like the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.