US Defense Secretary James Mattis warned NATO allies that the Trump Administration would “moderate its commitment” if the member nations will not meet their spending pledges.
The US calls for allies to at least spend 2% of their GDP on defense. Among all 28 member states only the US, Estonia, Greece, Poland and the United Kingdom have either hit or surpassed the 2% figure.
NATO Sec. General Jens Stoltenberg agreed that noncompliance of the member states is a grave concern for the organization and said that Mattis’ statement is not much of a threat, but rather just a reflection of the current political reality in the United States as Trump’s Administration adopts a protectionist approach to foreign policy.
Trump himself previously stated that the alliance, formed in the advent of the Cold War is already obsolete.
In 2015 alone, during the Obama Administration, NATO spent $892 billion with the US being its biggest contributor with $641 Billion. The alliance’s primary concern as of the moment is the continuous Russian military build-up after Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014.
Mattis addressed the pressing need for the alliance in order to “defend themselves” in the event where Russia moves in contrary to international law. He also assured that Trump is still willing to cooperate and continue its commitment so long as the alliance would also be on the same pace as the US in strengthening defense in the region.
Despite assurances from the US, NATO officials are still alarmed over the possibility of the US developing ties with Moscow as that could cause conflicts of interests.
As of the moment, NATO is strengthening defenses to counter terrorism from the Middle East and North Africa, including creating a command center in Italy dedicated to monitoring and collecting intelligence from crisis countries like Syria and Iraq.