Mike Pompeo, the newly confirmed Secretary of State for the United States, found himself singing a familiar tune to NATO allies in Brussels this past week: calling on America’s allies to meet their financial obligations to the alliance and cut their financial reliance on America’s defense apparatus.
Each NATO member nation is required to devote 2% of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) to defense spending. This measure was seen as a fair way to distribute the financial burden of the alliance’s mutual defense, ensuring each state pays their way while acknowledging that financial powerhouses like the United States would bare a greater share of the burden.
However, despite growing concerns about Russian aggression and a fresh influx of military units deployed along Europe’s Russian border tasked with rapidly responding to a Russian incursion, a number of European nations remain unwilling to meet the financial requirements of the NATO charter. Chief among them: Germany, who now devotes only 1.24 percent of its GDP to defense and only has plans to increase that to 1.25 percent by 2021.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel seemed to acknowledge this shortfall during a visit to Washington D.C. earlier this month, though thus far there’s no sign of change in the nation’s defensive strategy.
“I accept that, step by step, Germany will have to increase its contributions over the next few years,” she said alongside President Trump earlier this month. “I am proud of our contribution to NATO but realize that we have to assume more responsibility. We in Europe can no longer rely on the U.S. to come to our aid, so we all have to increase our contributions to NATO.”
As Pompeo headed into the closed-door meeting, the former head of the CIA spoke in keeping with his diplomatic role, emphasizing the importance of the NATO alliance to the United States and the administration he represents.
“The work that is being done here today is invaluable and our objectives are important and this mission means a lot to the United States of America,” he said. Though when asked if he felt Germany was spending enough to help to carry out that mission, he spoke frankly, delivering nothing more than a single syllable: “No.”
Russia has made many headlines in recent months, as NATO allies levied allegations ranging from the attempted assassination of a former Russian spy on UK soil using nerve agents, to supporting Bashar al Assad’s Syrian regime as it used chemical weapons on civilians within rebel controlled territory. Pompeo made it clear that the United States plans to hold Russia accountable for these types of violations, using each as an opportunity to emphasize the importance of America’s allies shouldering their share of the financial burden.
“The United States has made abundantly clear that NATO should not return to business as usual with Russia until Moscow shows a clear change in its actions and complies with international law,” he said.
Image courtesy the Associated Press