Pen­tagon chief says NATO mem­bers must boost de­fence spend­ing

The Peterborough Examiner - - WORLD NEWS -

BRUS­SELS — U.S. De­fence Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis on Wed­nes­day is­sued a sharp ul­ti­ma­tum to NATO Wed­nes­day, telling al­lies they must start in­creas­ing de­fence spend­ing by year’s end or the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion will “mod­er­ate its com­mit­ment” to them.

He did not de­tail what the United States might do if NATO mem­bers failed to fall in line.

Echo­ing a de­mand made re­peat­edly by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, Mat­tis said NATO must adopt a plan this year that sets mile­stone dates for gov­ern­ments to meet a mil­i­tary fund­ing goal of 2 per cent of gross do­mes­tic prod­uct.

The Pen­tagon chief called it a “fair de­mand” based on the “po­lit­i­cal re­al­ity” in Wash­ing­ton.

“No longer can the Amer­i­can tax­payer carry a dis­pro­por­tion­ate share of the de­fence of Western val­ues,” Mat­tis told the al­liance’s 27 other de­fence min­is­ters, ac­cord­ing to a text of his re­marks. “Amer­i­cans can­not care more for your chil­dren’s fu­ture se­cu­rity than you do.”

At­tend­ing his first NATO de­fence min­is­ters’ meet­ing, Mat­tis tried to make his case by cit­ing the threat from Rus­sia. The gath­er­ing came at an awk­ward time for the United States, af­ter Trump fired na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser Michael Flynn over Flynn’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions with Rus­sia be­fore Pres­i­dent Barack Obama left of­fice Jan. 20.

Mat­tis noted Rus­sia’s 2014 an­nex­a­tion of Ukraine’s Crimea re­gion and the Is­lamic State group’s hold over parts of Iraq and Syria, and said that “some in this al­liance have looked away in de­nial of what is hap­pen­ing.”

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