Mattis Highlights U.S. Commitment to NATO, Warns of ‘Arc of Insecurity’
By Lisa Ferdinando
Press Release February 15, 2017
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis traveled to Belgium and Germany to meet with NATO counterparts and discuss efforts to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Mattis also plans to meet with international partners while attending the Munich Security Conference.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis talked with Britain’s Defense Secretary Michael Fallon during the North Atlantic Council meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels. He highlighted the U.S. commitment to NATO, stressing the alliance’s importance in regional and global security while calling on nations to meet their military funding commitments.
“For seven decades the world has watched NATO become the most successful and powerful military alliance in modern history,” Mattis said in prepared remarks to a NATO defense ministerial meeting in Brussels.
He told the assembled defense leaders that NATO, with its members’ shared commitment, will remain what President Dwight D. Eisenhower described as a “valuable, necessary, and constructive force.”
Evolving Security Challenges
Appearing with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the closed meeting, Mattis underscored the importance of the bloc. “The alliance remains a fundamental bedrock for the United States and for all the transatlantic community, bonded as we are together,” Mattis said.
NATO faces challenges that are the “most complex and demanding in a generation,” according to Stoltenberg. Those challenges, he said, cannot be tackled alone by either Europe or the United States. “A strong NATO is good for Europe; a strong NATO is good for North America,” Stoltenberg said, adding he welcomes the “U.S. commitment to the transatlantic bond.”
The defense ministers, he said, will also be discussing the “course of the alliance and the future.” “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 ISIS emerged and introduced a ruthless breed of terror, intent on seizing territory and establishing a caliphate,” he said. While some in the 28-member alliance “have looked away in denial of what is happening,” he said, NATO needs to adapt to meet the changing security situations.
“For despite the threats from the east and south, we have failed to fill gaps in our NATO Response Force or to adapt to modem threats, or increase the readiness of much of our force structure,” he said.
NATO, he said, must tighten its decision cycle both in determining the actions of the alliance and in resourcing those decisions with robust and interoperable capabilities, he said.
Meeting Two Percent Defense Target
Mattis called on alliance members to meet the goal of spending two percent of their respective country’s GDP on defense. Only Britain, Estonia, Greece, Poland and the United States have done so, the defense secretary said. It is a fair demand, Mattis said, that all who benefit from the best defense in the world carry their proportionate share of the necessary cost to defend freedom.
The American taxpayer must not continue to carry a “disproportionate share of the defense of Western values,” Mattis said.
“Americans cannot care more for your children’s future security than you do.”
“We should never forget ultimately it is freedom that we defend here at NATO,” he said. The defense secretary said he plans to have an “open conversation among friends and allies about where we’re going and our shared level of commitment.”
“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.” he said. Immediate and steady progress toward the goal of meeting the two-percent target must become a reality, if NATO is to remain a credible alliance and able to adequately defend itself.
Not only did Mattis send a clear message that NATO is an important European Defense but that ALL countries in the alliance have to start carrying their weight. While some here see NATO as something we should not be involved in, there is some strong reasoning for continuing its existence. We shouldn’t confuse NATO with the United Nation’s goals and agenda. Cutting off all ties is just as harmful as the US carrying most of the financial and personnel burden. Isolationism as the world reaches epic tension and stress levels over a multitude of issues would be a terrible idea now.
Trump is sending a strong message, as is Mattis, that NATO is failing its prime directive and purpose. They are also living up to the campaign promise to force greater involvement by NATO members and less financial burden on our country. He is the first to live up to his campaign agenda and promises to voters in a very long time.
Liberals and Democrats are being shown up as more outrageous and egregious every day, especially considering the things he has accomplished in less than one month in office despite their flagrant, seditious actions. If they can’t sit quietly and act like reasonable adults, then we should be seeing a few prominent names being tried on sedition charges. But will we? I won’t hold my breath waiting for this to happen.