US Nato allies have been served with an ultimatum by the new defense secretary, who asked them to either honor their military spending pledges or risk the Western superpower limiting its commitment.
All the 27 members were issued with the warning on Wednesday as a Nato session in Brussels was coming to an end, reports CNN.
This is not the first time such threats have been made from the US, with Mattis’ predecessors being constant culprits. “I owe it to you to give you clarity on the political reality in the United States, and to state the fair demand from my country’s people in concrete terms,” he said.
“No longer can the American taxpayer carry a disproportionate share of the defence of Western values.
“Americans cannot care more for your children’s future security than you do,” he added.
His statements are in line with the position held by Trump that all members must ensure their military spending is at least 2 percent of their GDP. So far, only 5 of the 27 member states honor this agreement. These are US, UK, Estonia, Greece and Poland.
But Mattis has a positive view of the transatlantic organisation as he had earlier on praised it for having fostered detailed military cooperation.
According to commentators, Mr Mattis just issued the strongest criticism to the reluctant allies. No other defense secretary has taken a strong position as Mattis did.
He has maintained that all members must be progressive, even if it is just by a slight inch.
‘America will meet its responsibilities’
While speaking in Brussels, Nato’s headquarters, the US defense secretary said that America will ensure it meets its responsibilities. However, all members must also show interest in playing their part.
He also insisted on the need to jointly invest in a common defense, citing the many emerging threats from 2014. Among the threats pointed out include the ISIS and annexation of Crimea by Russia.
While still at the same meeting, Jens Stoltenberg, Nato Secretary General explained that alliance members had began to show some progress in terms of contribution.
Obama’s administration responded to the annexation by reversing the planned withdrawal of US troops from Europe and launched the largest deployment ever since cold war came to an end. Early January saw an extra 4,000 US military personnel set foot in Poland.
“An annual increase that we’re asking them to commit to would at least demonstrate good faith,” said UK Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon.
The meeting was conducted at a time when questions have been raised over Trump’s links with Russia and the resignation of the national security adviser, Michael Flynn.