Thus, at the end of the day, despite the early rhetoric from the Trump Administration, the NATO alliance is more or less conducting business as usual.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is reaffirming that NATO remains the United States’ most important alliance. That is despite a perception that the Trump Administration is skeptical of the alliance.
“NATO remains our number-one alliance. So I spent a fair amount of time on that effort at EUCOM. Obviously heartened coming out of the NATO ministerial would be an understatement, but the continued climbing of the defense budgets,” Mattis told reporters on Feb. 17.
“Having an alliance doesn’t mean you don’t have issues between allies. Of course you do. Every nation has its own interests. But just to look around that room, again, and see 29 nations all working together to work those issues, you have to remember the fundamental strength of that alliance.”
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Mattis indicated that the alliance is starting to make progress on sharing the military burden between the United States and Europe—where Washington has been carrying the lion’s share of the load for the past quarter century.
“Basically you see a much stronger European focus on defense,” Mattis said. “You know, for these democracies, and you know that some of them have been through economically very challenging times, going back now 10 years, and they’re coming out of it. But you see the defense portfolios being raised everywhere.”
No longer does one see declining European defense outlays from year to year, Mattis said.