"We must keep the transatlantic light burning brightly"

From James Stavridis, House Armed Services Committee:  Former Secretary Panetta has also stated it clearly: “We live in a world of growing danger and uncertainty where we face threats from violent extremism, nuclear proliferation, rising powers, and cyber attack. We cannot predict where the next crisis will occur. But we know we are stronger when we confront these threats together. It is precisely because of these growing security challenges and growing fiscal constraints that we need to work more closely than ever as partners.”

To summarize, there are five key responses to the question: “Why is Europe of such importance to the United States?” First, Europe is home to most of the world’s progressive democracies; nations with which we share the fundamental values that are a critical element in building effective coalitions. Second, with a GDP of $19 trillion—a quarter of the world’s economy—and approximately $4 trillion in annual trade with the United States, Europe’s importance to the U.S. and global economies cannot be overstated. Third, the European theater remains critical geostrategic terrain, providing the United States with the global access it needs to conduct worldwide operations and crisis response. Fourth, Europe is the backdrop for NATO, history’s most successful and effective alliance, and a vital partner for dealing with the challenges of the 21st century. Fifth, Europe is today a security exporter, possessing among the most highly trained and technologically advanced militaries in the world. No other region possesses such a comparable pool of capable and willing partners able to conduct global operations with the United States.

Therefore, our nation must take care—even as we grapple with significant economic challenges and chart the necessary strategic reorientations—to protect, preserve, and continue evolving this extraordinary partnership. We must keep the transatlantic light burning brightly. It will help guide us as we continue navigating the shadows, complexity, and continuous evolution of the 21st century security environment. And it will prove, as we persevere and rise to meet today’s economic and security challenges, that we are still, and will remain, STRONGER TOGETHER

Excerpts from testimony of Admiral James Stavridis, Commander, United States European Command, March 15, 2013.  (photo: Department of Defense)