A Brussels-based European affairs weekly newspaper has reported “common ground” between the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and presumptive Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump, noting both men believe U.S. spending on the military alliance is “unsustainable”.
At an event in Brussels hosted by POLITICO, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg did not go as far as endorsing Mr. Trump’s view that the intergovernmental military alliance is now “obsolete” in a world threatened by terrorism. The former Prime Minister of Norway did, nevertheless, share his concern that Europe should pay more for its defence.
According to POLITICO, Mr. Stoltenberg said the gross domestic product of the U.S. is “almost exactly as big” as that of its European NATO allies. He noted:
“We are in one way as rich as the Americans, but they are spending more than twice as much on defence than we are.”
In particular, Mr. Stoltenberg stated that more than 70 per cent of NATO’s total defence spending coming from the U.S. “is not sustainable,” adding:
“This is not defence sharing and we need to reach a more equal burden sharing between Europe and the U.S.”
It is recognised that during Mr. Stoltenberg’s time as NATO chief many European countries have stopped cutting their military spending, but he recognises that is not enough, saying:
“The next step for the European allies is more defence spending. We are starting to see some progress, but we have a very long way to go.”
Mr. Stoltenberg was, however, happy to rebut Mr. Trump’s allegation made to the New York Times in March when he said: “I think NATO is obsolete.”
First, making a general comment, he pointed to the stability which NATO has helped maintain, explaining:
“My message is that NATO is important for the security of both the United States and Europe. I think the two World Wars have taught the U.S. that stability, peace in Europe, is also important for the United States.”
Mr. Stoltenberg went on to deal directly with Mr. Trump’s suggestion that NATO is a historical institution made obsolete in a post-Soviet era of terror, saying any future President of the U.S. should not forget that “the only time we evoked Article 5, the collective defence clause of NATO, was in defence of the United States, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.”
Mr. Stoltenberg reminded those present at the POLITICO event: “Many European nations have sent soldiers to Afghanistan and more than 1,000 of them have lost their lives … in an operation that has been organised in protection of the United States against global terrorism.”