Defense Secretary James Mattis on Wednesday said the time has come for North Atlantic Treaty Organization members to put up their fair share for their own protection and stop burdening America with the costs of defending Europe.
“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 said. “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.”
Secretary of Defense James Mattis tells NATO to Pay up!
9:03 AM - 15 Feb 2017
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As if to underscore the stakes, Mattis spoke one day after Russia announced new exercises along part of its border with Europe. Russia also recently deployed a nuclear-capable missile, which the U.S. claims violates an arms control treaty.
Mattis delivered his ultimatum during a closed-doors meeting with NATO defense ministers in Brussels. Copies of his remarks were shared with the media.
President Donald Trump has often criticized NATO and its members. Mattis carried that message to the Europeans on Wednesday.
“No longer can the American taxpayer carry a disproportionate share of the defense of western values,” Mattis said.
“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 made no effort to minimize the Russian threat.
“Fellow ministers, when the Cold War ended we all had hopes,” Mattis said. “The year 2014 awakened us to a new reality: Russia used force to alter the borders of one of its sovereign neighbors, and on Turkey’s border (the Islamic State) emerged and introduced a ruthless breed of terror, intent on seizing territory and establishing a caliphate. While these events have unfolded before our eyes, some in this alliance have looked away in denial of what was happening.”
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In theory, NATO nations are supposed to be spending at least 2 percent of their Gross Domestic Product on defense. Only Britain, Estonia, Poland, Greece and the United States do so.
According to a NATO report, France spends 1.78 percent of its GDP on defense; Germany 1.19 percent; Italy 1.11 percent and Turkey 1.56 percent. Some countries have said they will increase spending, but will not hit the 2 percent mark until 2020 or 2024.
An annual increase “would at least demonstrate good faith,” British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said later, urging nations that could not meet the 2 percent level immediately to at least respond to Mattis’ comments.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg tried to soften the message.
“This is not the U.S. telling Europe to increase defense spending. This is 28 allies, heads of state, that all were sitting around the same table in 2014, and looking into each other’s eyes and agreeing that we shall increase defense spending. I welcome all pressure, all support to make sure that happens,” he said.http://www.westernjournalism.com/defense-secretary-mattis-tells-nato-it-must-commit-to-increased-defense-spending/?utm_source=Email&utm_medium=WCJEmail&utm_campaign=can&utm_content=2017-02-15