by Tyler Durden
The media remains focused on the apparently widening gap between the president-elect and his Defense Secretary-designate James Mattis over NATO after Trump reconfirmed charges from his campaign that NATO is “obsolete,” in a joint interview Sunday with The London Times and Germany’s Bild publication, which are at odds with retired Marine Gen. Mattis, who said, “If we didn’t have NATO today, we’d need to create it. NATO is vital to our interests,” during his Senate confirmation hearing last week.
In his remarks to The London Times and Bild, Trump said of NATO: “It’s obsolete, first because it was designed many, many years ago.” He renewed his charges that most members of the 28-nation alliance are not living up to their responsibilities under the treaty.
The U.S. provides about 70 percent of the funding for NATO while other nations “aren’t paying their fair share, so we’re supposed to protect countries,” Trump said. “There’s five countries that are paying what they’re supposed to — five. It’s not much.”
And it appears some in NATO agree, as AP reports, a top NATO general is conceding that parts of the military alliance need to be brought up to date following U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s claim that NATO is “obsolete.”
Reacting to Trump’s criticism in an interview this week, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Transformation General Denis Mercier said Tuesday, “We see that there is a need for adaptation.”
Mercier acknowledged that NATO has “some structures that are obsolete.”
He says the military alliance probably has focused too much on deploying troops abroad, so-called expeditionary warfare, particularly its operation in Afghanistan.
Mercier says the alliance wants to revamp its approach to counter-terrorism, in part by helping countries under threat to develop long-term plans to fight extremists.
Germany was one of a number of European nations stunned by Trump’s remarks.
After meetings at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Monday, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Trump’s criticism of NATO is “in contradiction” of Mattis’ vision of a strengthened alliance and U.S. support of NATO’s Article 5, which considers an attack on any member as an attack against all.
“Obviously, the comments from President-elect Trump that he views NATO as obsolete were viewed with anxiety,” Steinmeier said.