Hillary Clinton’s warning to Britain over cuts in defence budget

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in Brussels October 14, 2010.

From James Kirkup, the TelegraphBarack Obama’s government has delivered a stark public warning against major cuts in the British defence budget, suggesting that they would undermine Nato and strain the Special Relationship.

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, and Robert Gates, the secretary of defence, both said they were worried about deep reductions in Britain’s Armed Forces and the consequences for international security. …

Mrs Clinton and Mr Gates, America’s two most senior figures on international relations and security, made those fears public in separate remarks.

In a BBC interview to be broadcast today, Mrs Clinton was asked whether defence cuts being made in Europe, and specifically in Britain, worried the US administration.

She replied: “It does. The reason it does is because I think we do have to have an alliance where there is a commitment to the common defence.

“Nato has been the most successful alliance for defensive purposes in the history of the world, I guess, but it has to be maintained. Now each country has to be able to make its appropriate contributions.”

Mr Gates attended a meeting of Nato defence ministers in Brussels yesterday, where he delivered his own warning. “My worry is that the more our allies cut their capabilities, the more people will look to the US to cover whatever gaps are created,” he told reporters on his flight to Belgium. “At a time when we are facing stringencies of our own, that’s a concern for me.”

Later, he told the Nato meeting: “As nations deal with their economic problems, we must guard against the hollowing out of alliance military capability by spending reductions that cut too far into muscle. …”

Britain is one of a handful of European Nato members that meets the 2 per cent standard. Officials believe that defence spending could fall as low as 1.7 per cent of GDP.  (photo: Reuters)

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