Rasmussen warns Europe against defense budget cuts

North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told officials on Monday that European defense budget cuts put the nations at risk of being unable to respond to defense threats, making nations "global spectators."

Rasmussen attended a meeting of the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs in Brussels and warned officials of what would come of Europe if they continued to cut from the defense budget. In 2011, European nations cut the defense budget by $45 billion.

"Having the right capabilities is important, but it is not enough," Rasmussen said. "We must also have the political will to use them, to deal with security challenges on Europe's doorstep, to help manage crises further away that might affect us here at home, and to better share the security burden with our North American allies."

Rasmussen said that Europe could become a soft power, which he believes holds no power. He said the nations will lack credibility, influence and cannot be a global power without adequate defenses.

Rasmussed suggested European nations begin reinvesting in security as soon as the economy recovers, and warned that NATO's viability may be at risk in the future if the organization does not get the support it needs from members to run.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates also commented, saying if alliance members do not invest in NATO it risks a "dismal future" and "irrelevance," although it should be seen as a very "capable partner in their own defense."