On Wednesday, Defense Secretary James Mattis warned NATO and its allies that they need to spend more on their defense. Otherwise, the United States might end up the collaboration with them. In his first speech since he became Defense Secretary, Mattis said that all those countries should really respect the spending commitments. He promised that the United States will indeed do this, but the nation’s support is not unlimited and it might stop if this condition is not met. He stated that the security of each country’s future should be the primary point of interest for the respective nation.
A previous call, repeated
Mattis’ call is actually an echo which was previously voiced by other American secretaries of defense. Also, his warning from Wednesday was almost the exact same one as president Donald Trump’s. It is still unclear what would this retreat from the NATO duties would mean, but the United States might act in a lot of ways. From refusing to help an ally under attack to leaving the alliance for good. The nation could also reduce the number of soldiers in certain European countries.
In a way, it is normal for Mattis to react like this because the United States are paying 3.61 percent ($664 billion in 2016) from its gross domestic product to NATO. This is more than any other member of the alliance. Meanwhile, all the other countries are required to pay 2 percent of their gross domestic products. However, only Greece, Poland, Great Britain, and Estonia currently meet this requirement.
Not a threat, but an advice
According to Martin Stropnicky, the Czech Republic’s defense minister, Mattis’ speech and warning did not come as a surprise at all. After all, the United States’ opinion is not a secret and many have voiced it before. It did not sound like a threat either. It was more of an advice for the better functioning of the NATO alliance. Stropnicky also said that his country grew the amount of money it is paying for NATO. Still, according to some records, it only spends only 1 percent of its gross domestic product. So, that is not much of an increase.
Many NATO officials were very careful to listen to Mattis’ every word in order to find out if there is any connection between what he says and the country’s connections with Russia. Everyone fears an aggressive Moscow and there are many suspicions surrounding the nation’s mingling in the United States presidential election and not only. So, the NATO officials are right to be more careful. However, Mattis reassured everyone that there is no connection between Russia and the United States and that their aim is common with NATO’s aim.
All in all, it seems like Donald Trump’ opinion is shared by many other important people. The president was the first to say that he does not fully trust the alliance. He even called it “obsolete” at one point during the campaign. Time will tell if the situation will become worse or if things will work out just fine.
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