On the campaign trail, President Donald Trump attracted a good deal of controversy when he vowed that as president he would make our NATO allies pay their fair share toward the collective defense.
Under the NATO treaty, all member countries are expected to spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense. In reality, only a handful of member states do that, and on Wednesday, Secretary of Defense James Mattis issued a warning to all states that don’t pay, The Washington Post reported.
At his first meeting with the defense ministers from NATO member nations, Mattis threatened to “moderate” America’s commitment to the alliance if the countries don’t start paying up.
“I owe it to you all to give you clarity on the political reality in the United States and to state the fair demand from my country’s people in concrete terms,” Mattis explained. “America will meet its responsibilities, but if your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to the alliance, each of your capitals needs to show its support for our common defense.”
For years, NATO allies have failed to spend the required amount, but the United States has been reluctant to strain the alliance by demanding they meet their obligations. That appears to be changing.
“Americans cannot care more for your children’s security than you do. Disregard for military readiness demonstrates a lack of respect for ourselves, for the alliance and for the freedoms we inherited, which are now clearly threatened,” Mattis stated.
You can see in the graphic below which countries actually pay their fair share.
Only five countries meet NATO military requirementshttps://t.co/qaG7J7LDX4
— Axios (@axios) February 16, 2017
The New York Times noted that Mattis did not give any specifics as to how the United States would “moderate” its commitment, but there are a number of avenues it could take, such as decreasing the number of troops deployed in Europe.
Trump’s rhetoric on the campaign trail concerned many who seemed to think he would pull the United States out of NATO, but Mattis made it clear that America still values NATO, calling it “the most successful and powerful military alliance in modern history,” Reuters reported.
Having an alliance with our European partners is great for America’s position in the world, but we can longer let our European partners be free riders. If they can’t be bothered to pay for their own defense, we aren’t going to keep spending as much as we currently do on them.
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H/T The Right Scoop