The American Secretary of State for Defence, James Mattis, yesterday (Wednesday) urged his NATO allies to increase their defence spending. He confirmed that otherwise the United States (“the US”) may “moderate its commitment” to the Atlantic Alliance.
James Mattis declared to his NATO counterparts, “I owe it to you to provide clarity around the current political reality in the United States, as well as passing on the demand for fairness expressed by the American people.” This is revealed in a document sent by his department.
Mr Mattis warned, “America will meet its responsibilities, but if your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to this Alliance, each of your capitals should show support for our common defence.”
“Sharing the [defence spending] burden” between the Allies was essential. This was the top agenda item in the first NATO meeting for James Mattis in Brussels.
The American President, Donald Trump, insisted upon this theme during his electoral campaign and, more recently, his first few weeks in power.
He has indicated several times that the US might think twice about complying with its NATO obligations, if European allies did not unite quicker on what he considers is the main defence spending objective. In Trump’s view, member countries’ NATO defence spending contributions should be at least 2% of their respective GDP figures.
Amongst the 28 Alliance member states, only the US, Greece, the United Kingdom, Estonia and Poland have met this threshold up to now.