Anthony Scaramucci, appointed Director of Public Liaison in the incoming Trump administration, has told global elites at Davos that NATO needs radical reform to be equipped to deal with Islamic terrorism, and that members who have failed to abide by the bloc’s spending obligations should “start paying up”.
Leaders across Europe have reacted to President-Elect Donald J. Trump’s comments in an interview with The Times, where he said that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was no longer fit for purpose in the 21st century, and criticised members who do not pay their minimum spend obligations on defence.
“The interview statements of the American president-elect… caused, indeed here in Brussels, astonishment and agitation,” said Germany’s foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
When asked about these comments by interviewer and former German vice chancellor Philipp Rösler, Scaramucci spoke favourably of the supranational bloc, saying: “NATO was designed to fortify the Western European democracies against the spectre of Communism. You can argue whether it was successful or not. I think it was resoundingly successful.”
Mr. Trump had likewise stressed that NATO was “very important to [him]” in his interview with The Times.
However, Mr. Scaramucci told the audience at the World Economic Forum (WEF): “Today the world is dramatically different than how it was before.”
The member of the president-elect’s transition team continued: “The Soviet Union is separate countries and the largest of those countries, Russia, is in the G8.
“We have sanctions against Russia now and we may have some disagreements with Russia. But at the end of the day, the president-elect is saying ‘Let’s try to find some common cause, let’s try to find a way to get along better.'”
Mr. Scaramucci told the audience of the world’s elite that the president-elect’s comments were a call for radical reform.
“What’s he’s saying about NATO today, in 2017, maybe we need to focus less on combating Communism and more on potentially rejecting radical Islamic terrorism.
“So when he uses the word ‘obsolete’ and people run around saying, ‘he’s going to bust up NATO’ that’s not what he’s saying. There’s a two to three per cent expenditure and some people aren’t paying their bills.”
Speculating on how a businessman, rather than a professional politician, would address the deficits, Mr. Scaramucci added: “He’s a real estate developer. What do you think he’s going to do? He’s going to go to those countries and say, ‘Hey you signed this thing, you owe the money, start paying up’.”
Last year, just five of the 28 countries in NATO, including Britain and the U.S., maintained their obligation to the treaty by spending a minimum two per cent of their Gross Domestic Product annually on defence.
In addition to nations fulfilling this obligation, the soon-to-be director of public liaison suggested that NATO members should “reorganise and recharter”.
“We have to think about changing that treaty to front-face the 21st and 22nd centuries.”
Watch the full interview below