U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reaffirmed his nation’s global role on Saturday, vowing Western values of freedom and democracy would always prevail over Russian and Chinese desires for “empire.”
Washington’s top diplomat also said claims the transAtlantic alliance is diminishing are “grossly exaggerated,” and rejected comments by Germany’s president the U.S. has abandoned the international community under Donald Trump’s presidency.
“Those statements don’t reflect reality,” Pompeo said in his address to the annual Munich Security Conference in Germany. “I’m happy to report that the death of the transatlantic alliance is grossly exaggerated. The West is winning, and we’re winning together.”
Pompeo’s affirmation of U.S. engagement with the world came as a counterpoint to German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier who claimed Friday the United States would put its own interests first at the expense of allies.
“Our closest ally, the United States of America, under the current administration, rejects the very concept of the international community,” he said. “‘Great again’ but at the expense of neighbors and partners,” Steinmeier added, referring to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan, without naming the president.
Germany, which boasts the biggest economy in Europe, spends only 1.24 percent on its defense budget while the U.S. spends 3.5 percent.
French President Emmanuel Macron also told the conference of international leaders, lawmakers and diplomats he liked Steinmeier’s vision for an independent Europe although he failed to detail just how it will be paid for.
“We cannot be the United States’ junior partner,” Macron said, adding that while he supported NATO, Europe needed to be able to tackle threats in its neighbourhood and at times act independently of Washington.
“I’m impatient for European solutions,” Macron said.
Pompeo was having none of that, reasserting the U.S. was always willing to stand with its European allies but, at the same time, they also had to pay their way rather than always relying on Washington to financially underwrite their defense interests.
The United States is fighting for sovereignty and freedom. We should have confidence in the transatlantic alliance. The free West has a brighter future than illiberal alternatives. #TheWestIsWinning – and we’re doing it together. pic.twitter.com/3sz9PoSNZC
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) February 15, 2020
Pompeo’s speech addressed policy issues where Washington and its European allies do not see eye to eye, including the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and effort to ban products by Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, although he didn’t explicitly underscore those differences.
“It’s not about Europe following us — we want to work alongside you. We want to work together,” he said.
“There’s lots of good things going on,” he added. “It doesn’t mean there won’t be differences and disagreements about how to approach them.”