The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is as important to the United States as it is to Europe, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in the US last week.

The NATO chief spoke at the Heritage Foundation following talks with US security officials. In his remarks, he stressed the importance of the nearly 70-year-old organisation to America.

The alliance has guaranteed peace and stability in Europe since it was founded in 1949, Stoltenberg said. NATO was a response to aggression from the Soviet Union in the aftermath of World War II, and has morphed into an alliance seeking a stable, rules-based international climate where all nations can prosper.

The past 70 years have seen an unprecedented period of prosperity in Europe and North America, Stoltenberg said. NATO is the foundation for that prosperity. “Europe and North America together represent half of the world’s economic output,” he said.

“And while we now have our disagreements over tariffs, it does not change the fact that Europe and North America are each other’s biggest trading partners.”

Ensuring a peaceful, prosperous Europe is in the interests of all parties “on both sides of the Atlantic,” he said.

“NATO allies share and support the fundamental values which are at the heart of American society,” he said.

Alliance nations are democracies, support individual liberties and abide by the rule of law. “They are the foundations of our free societies, but they are also the foundations of our engagement with the rest of the world,” the secretary general said. “These values are magnets for other countries, and lead them to join our alliance.”

After the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet Union dissolved, former Warsaw Pact and Baltic nations joined the alliance. Nations in the Balkans and others aspire to join, he said. “NATO has helped to spread democratic values, free enterprise, and stability to millions of people in the eastern part of Europe, and this represents a historic geopolitical shift that has benefited the United States and the world at large,” Stoltenberg said.

Finally, NATO allies are a boost to American military power. The Europeans have nearly 2 million active duty service members with cutting-edge capabilities. The European allies are on duty in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. They work with the United States in counter-piracy operations and in maintaining sea lines of communication and the airways.

“France and the United Kingdom contribute 30 percent of NATO’s nuclear ballistic-missile submarine fleet,” he said.

“America’s NATO allies also maintain dual-capable aircraft for nuclear delivery to enhance our deterrence and keep the peace.”

NATO allies have strong and capable intelligence networks that work alongside American professionals. This alliance intelligence sharing runs the gamut of capabilities from tracking submariners in the Arctic to identifying terrorists, the secretary general said.

“NATO allies also hosts 28 American main operating bases across Europe,” he said.

“These bases in Europe are not only for Europe, they enable the U.S. to project military power across the wider Middle East and Africa providing a clear strategic advantage in the fight against terrorism and other threats.

The classic example of this is U.S. Africa Command which is based in Stuttgart, Germany, or the U.S. 6th Fleet based in Naples. When US troops are wounded in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, they are flown for quick treatment to Ramstein, Germany.

When thinking of the value of NATO to the United States, I am also reminded of what Secretary Mattis once told me that never in his entire career had he fought a war without NATO allies at his side. The US never has to fight alone.”

19 COMMENTS

  1. He’s certainly not wrong, but it doesn’t address the fact that the US shoulders a disproportionate share of other countries defence. The 2% target is more than realistic, and easily attainable for most if not all members of NATO

  2. The US spends more on defence than the next SEVEN highest spenders in the world combined! It chooses to spend this amount and if the US were to leave NATO they would not spend a single cent less.
    There’s no doubt that many countries in Europe should be spending more but it’s disingenuous to suggest that the US spends so much in order to defend Europe. They do so because they choose to do so.

    • Well then, you have just made the best case for the US leaving NATO. Most Europeans who think that we “just decide to spend that money anyway” ignore the astounding amount of our money we pour into their continent because of the NATO alliance. Time to pull out, completely, of NATO. Germany has already sold its soul to Russia, and the EU is a one world order breakfast club. If we pull out of NATO I suspect there will be more than one European who drones on like you about how we want to keep spending money for no apparent reason in Europe will be astounded how fast we figure out where to redirect that money.

  3. He wants to make more efforts to tackle those NATO members, especially the EU bunch of taking for granted self indulgent nations to contribute at least 2% GDP. Once again it appears only a few especially the US is shouldering the defence costs so that the EU and others can enjoy freedoms and democracy as described in the article.

    • Agree George. Especially the bit about greedy self indulgent nations who are actually very poor allies and of “limited military support” should the need arise. The downturn in military capability of Germany, Holland, Belgium etc is very worrying. They will be the first Nations asking for help militarily if Russia started anything hot.

  4. Increasing trade tensions between the US and China could exacerbate the situation in the South China Seas? In some ways, China may welcome Trump’s tariff policy as they could strengthen their hand in reshaping the local seascape with some justification? That makes me feel uneasy about how the superpower tectonic plates will move in the coming months and years? I believe there is a fine line between aggressive trade relations and physical military posturing. As far as I’m concerned, Trump’s Tariffs could leave US foreign policy, diplomatic status and political prowess in tatters? It may result in a seismic shift in US defence policy from Europe / NATO, in preference for a huge Far Eastern military build up? As for NATO, a considerably increased presence in the Far East may be unavoidable, what then for the alliance members budgets and traditional force dispositions?

  5. It’s very true the US practically props up the entirety of NATO on its own, and that does need to change. The 2% was always a minimum spend and not a target to work towards. That being said, the single reason the US stations the volume of assets and infrastructure it does on foreign soil, thus supplementing those nations defence capability, is purely in its own interests. They do it to have readily deployable forward based assets so that in the unlikely event of an actual shooting war with a near peer enemy, they can fight it overseas, well away from the US mainland.

    Although Trump is increasingly isolationist I don’t think for a moment the American psyche would allow them to retreat militarily from the rest of Western Europe, intervention is very much a part of their identity and anti-Russian sentiment will always exist while generations of Vietnam vets are still alive and kicking. Politics in Russia may have evolved and Communism specifically may not be as popular as in the height of the Cold War but people are slow to forget.

    NATO in its entirety has basically evolved as to allow the US to strategically pre deploy selected assets around the Atlantic/Med/Gulf to serve their own means. It wouldn’t be surprising to find in most cases it’s just coincidental that it ties in nicely with the rest of NATO’s wishes.

    Make no mistake, NATO is purely an extension of the US military and it’s strategic objectives.

    I 100% agree with NATO. I admire the US for their commitment to their military. I hate freeloading EU defence spending (lack of)… this is just a little rant and all purely opinion… queue the incoming. I’m going to put a saucepan on my head and sit under the dining table and await the comments. Out.

    • While I think the US would intervene in Europe it would only do so grudgingly and in many ways resentfully. From the perspective of Americans who lived and served during the Vietnam era the slow to forget thing is a net negative for Europe.
      The memory becomes,“where were you when I/we were in that jungle?,” or “I remember when the governments and universities of Europe called me and my brothers criminals and baby killers”. Another insult from several supposed allies was the comparison of American veterans to Hitler and the Nazis. Pretty damn rich only 20 years after WWII.
      Do not confuse the opinions of the recently deceased Songbird that was Senator McCain for what was the memory of the average American. Who remembers Vietnam and where it’s allies were and exactly how much countries like say Canada betrayed them, while still demanding protection.

    • Trump is not an isolationist. That’s a canard thrown at him by smug, pseudo-superior Europeans who see no reason to actually pay for their own defense or, heavens to Betsy, actually risk the lives of their young men and women to defend their interests. There is absolutely no reason why the United States, decades after the end of the Cold War, should have to defend 500 million Europeans, with a GDP 15 times the size of Russia, from 145 million Russians. This, at the same time, that the US, a Pacific power, unlike the UK or any other European nation, is facing a rising challenge from a Communist China with values totally antithetical to those of the West.
      Trump wants a rebalancing of the burden. Calling a President who has massively increased the US Defense Budget so that the US can confront its adversaries, an isolationist is the height of European hypocrisy.
      The US does derive benefit from its access to NATO bases, but, should NATO dissolve or go away, the US is perfectly capable of acquiring new European bases from EU members who are friendly to the US like Poland and Romania, unlike Germany or the UK, which, has spit in the face of the United States by refusing its President the honor to address its Parliament and allowing some puffed up little twerp Mayor of London to tell the US that its President is not welcome to his capitol city even though its freedom was bought by the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans. And all the time, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister never spoke up about these insults. 9,000 Americans can be stationed on British soil to defend the UK, but their Commander in Chief isn’t welcome in he UK’s parliament or capitol city.
      And you wonder why more and more Americans are saying “enough is enough”?

      • I’d just like to politely point out that London’s freedom was not bought by “the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans”, that would be Paris amongst others. The battle of Britain ensured the survival of the UK, a battle fought by pilots from many nations yes, including 11 Americans. All of whom are remembered and honoured regularly.

        Don’t get me wrong, I am in awe of those who took part in the joint defeat of the Nazi regime, from Britain, USA and Canada et al on the Western front to the Soviets on the Eastern. I’m sure British way of life would be completely different had it not happened. I do believe however that Britain would still exist.

        I share your contempt for the mayor of London but you must understand the weight of public opinion against the US President receiving a full state visit. It is quite a polarising issue. I don’t think history should dictate today, otherwise no British PM would ever be welcome in the US.

      • I agree with your comment about Mayor Khan. 5th Columnist in our midst as far as I am concerned.

        I personally had no issue AT ALL with President Trump getting a state visit. As an Anglophile, someone who wants to make a trade deal with the UK, and the leader of the free world and the UK’s closest ally, I would expect NOTHING LESS!

        Ironic that the UK allows people who have no interest in integration, can walk down Whitehall carrying ISIS flags, and display placards calling for British soldiers to be killed to live here and openly express their views, yet POTUS cannot?!

        President Trump says what he thinks. He acts not like a statesman but like a businessman. He has views many openly dislike, as we all know. For me I’m vehemently against his environmental views and attitude to animals. That does not mean I’m demonstrating in Whitehall against his visit and flying a frankly absurd blimp.

        Sections of my country really have lost the plot.

        One need only look at the Brexit vote and a map of what London votes for and what ordinary England voted for to see where the underlying issues for all this lie. I even read tweets calling for London to be independent and Khan president!!! So much for patriotism eh London?

  6. The US is a global power and only part of it’s military is focussed on Europe. Russia has a long border with China and realistically will need to cover that border – again, only part (though a major part) of it’s military is focussed on Europe. Meanwhille most European countries are purely focussed on Europe so all their militaries are available. It has been said that the Russian military has a lot more stuff per £ spent – often stated as twice as much. But Europe as a whole spends a lot more than twice as much as Russia. Europe as a whole has far more available equipment and personnel than Russia – even if you look at nukes, the UK and France have over 400, how much of Russia’s would be available against Europe? How much has to be held back to face the US and China? So no, Europe isn’t defenceless – though yes, some European countries are freeloading – butr on the other European cuntries, not the US.

  7. Good morning trolls. He’s got a tough sell in the US. He talks about all the bases Italy, Germany etc etc provide but they don’t do so out of the goodness of their hearts. They provide huge economic benefits to the countries concerned especially in employment and foreign currency. If I was going to name the worst of them all Belgium would get my vote. It earns a fortune from NATO HQ and all the ancilliary services associated with it and contributes what ? They need tough love not ‘enabling’ from others. Give them 10 years to prepare then pack up and go home. They can decide among them selves whether to defend themselves from Kim Jong Putin or find their Lukashenko. They wouldn’t even have to spend 2% to be able to deter Russia. If they spent their money on actually defending themselves rather than keeping down unemployment they would need no ones help.

  8. Unfortunately I agree with most of the comments here. I am ashamed to say that my country is one of the worst in not contributing it’s “fare share” of the NATO burden. Canada can also be grouped into the bevy of Nations that have relied on the US for far too long to contribute well above what they should be doing. There is no denying the current Canadian Defence Department fiscal constraints, but there is also no denying the fact that many of Canada’s allies agree that most NATO Allies as a minimum, should spend at least 2% of their GDP on Defence. Australia is gearing up this year to surpass the 2% threshold for their Defence needs and they aren’t even part of NATO! The Canadian government seems to have miss-lead Canadians into believing that “being back” as our Prime Minister has said within the NATO umbrella, means Canada will be participating in UN Peacekeeping and Peace Support operations in a much more meaningful way. If this is correct, then contributing a minimum of 2% GDP increase on defence will be essential to this policy. Recently Canadian Defence Minister Sajjan has said that “If we are truly serious about Canada’s role in the world, then we have to be serious about funding our military-And we are”. As it stands today, the RCN has become internationally disfunctional and our Navy, Army & Air Force has become redundant within the NATO community. In order to dis-spell this belief, Canada must step up to the plate and give our Armed Forces the tools to accomplish the government’s Peace Support and Peace Keeping missions required by all Canadians.
    If Canada were to spend, (as a minimum), at least 5 Billion dollars more annually on National Defence or just 2% of the GDP we would be well on our way to being a more credible force within NATO. There would be absolutely no negative effects on Canada’s defence needs in the future, or on Canada’s economy if this were done.

    • Canada didn’t do very well out of WW2 despite being one of the key allies, certainly more important than France.

      Canadian politics always surprise me, how a hardy frontier country always goes Left. Trudeau Senior did remarkable damage to the Canadian military.

  9. NATO is a dying entity, the West as a whole is a dying culture and it’s being done voluntarily by its own lemmings. Sorry, not trying to be a gloomy killjoy. JMHO but I believe global events lend credence to it. Throughout history empires and civilizations rise to power then become weak and feeble much like a human life cycle. Then the barbarians come. The barbarians always win.

    If I were making decisions I would continue to support NATO while I concentrated on evolving the 5 Eyes pact into a fully structured alliance within an alliance in both the Atlantic and Pacific along with Japan and a couple of other nations. Russia is no threat – China is the threat – to both the West AND Russia. We will see China and Russia go to war before Russia attacks the West.

    They understand fully we are no threat to them. It’s interesting, despite being invited to the Vostock Exercise by Russia, the Chinese also sent a spy ship as they did during RIMPAC when they were invited as well. Says loads and you couldn’t be happy as a Russian military officer seeing this and knowing that they are really where the threat lies…

    https://news.usni.org/2018/09/17/china-sent-uninvited-spy-ship-russian-vostok-2018-exercise-alongside-troops-tanks

    Oh well! Enough rain and gloom for a day!

    Cheers!

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