NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen warned European lawmakers yesterday that the European Union cannot rely on its vaunted soft power (h/t EUobserver.com). Speaking before the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs and Subcommittee on Security and Defence, Rasmussen warned against continuing cuts in Europe's defense capabilities.
If European nations do not make a firm committment to invest in security and defense then all talk about about a strengthened european defense and security policy will just be hot air. And it won't bring us any closer to the strong and open Europe that we all want...We Europeans must understand that soft power alone is really no power at all. Without hard capabilities to back up its diplomacy, Europe will lack credibility and influence. It will risk being a global spectator rather than the powerful global actor that it can be and should be.
The NATO chief went out of his way to characterize the recent EU-brokered breakthrough between Serbia and Kosovo as the product of both hard and soft power. While crediting the EU's Catherine Ashton, he noted pointedly that "both parties wanted wanted assurances that NATO would guarantee the security to implement the agreement."
Rasmussen's plea for greater European military wherewithal echoes concerns articulated by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a recent speech.