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US Isolationism Greater Security Threat Than Budget Cuts: Former NATO Commander

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The greatest threat to the United States' national security is not the decline in the size of military forces or the budget, but withdrawal and isolationism from the rest of the world, Admiral James Stavridis, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, told RIA Novosti.

WASHINGTON, October 15 (RIA Novosti) - The greatest threat to the United States' national security is not the decline in the size of military forces or the budget, but withdrawal and isolationism from the rest of the world, Admiral James Stavridis, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, told RIA Novosti.

"The biggest threat to the United States is isolationism, frustration with the world that causes us to withdraw," Admiral Stavridis told RIA Novosti on Tuesday at a Center for Strategic and International Studies discussion on maritime security with US Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Jonathan Greenert.

Stavridis countered statements made by Greenert, who told RIA Novosti that the greatest threat to US security was a lack of presence and the ongoing budget cuts. "I think really the larger question is less about how big the navy is and what's the general commitment of maritime activity, the question for the country is: are we going to gear toward isolationism?"

After over a decade of fighting overseas wars, many polls point to the war weariness of both the American public and some of its leaders, which some critics have seen as an isolationist trend.

Additionally, the current commitment to budget sequestration, which requires approximately $500 billion in defense cuts over ten years, has created major challenges for all branches of the US military. According to Greenert, the military is being asked to respond to an increasing number of threats with decreasing levels of resources.

Despite the budget cuts and questions about US commitment to maintaining a global military, Greenert told RIA Novosti that he "deeply believes" in the "value of [presence] in the world we live in today and the world I see in the future."

The Naval Operation chief added that US naval presence and overall capabilities would be drastically reduced if policy-makers choose to enforce the budget sequestration act. "So the question is how big a navy you want, how much sea power you want, it's just what you have with the dollars you have today."

The US Navy currently has 289 deployable battleships, a major decrease from the all-time high of 6,000 during World War II. US naval forces have been gradually declining for the last decade and a half.

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