Stoltenberg: NATO Alliance Needed More Than Ever

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg cautioned against any weakening of the ties between the United States and Europe in an article published in The Observer Saturday. “We face the greatest challenges to our security in a generation,” Stoltenberg wrote, just four days after the election of Donald Trump, who surprised many on both sides of the Atlantic by openly questioning the ongoing value of the NATO alliance during the presidential campaign. He added, “This is no time to question the value of the partnership between Europe and the United States.” Acknowledging Trump’s criticism, Stoltenberg conceded that “t?he United States currently accounts for almost 70 percent of NATO defense spending, and has rightly called for a more equitable sharing of the burden.” However, Stoltenberg suggested that the imbalance is already being addressed, pointing to “a total of three percent increase in real terms” in defense spending across Europe in 2016, as well as his expectation that “next year we will see the third consecutive year of increased defense spending in Europe.” In the face of challenges from Russia, the Middle East, and north Africa, Stoltenberg insisted that “going it alone is not an option, either for Europe or for the United States.”

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter largely echoed Stoltenberg Monday morning, calling NATO an “example of a community of nations that saw things similarly” in the past and rose to face common challenges together. His comments were offered at a Washington, D.C., event organized by The Atlantic magazine. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, he said, NATO “worked with us in Afghanistan, and has worked with us ever since.” Carter said NATO is “constantly in a process of change,” and though he admitted he has “no warrant to speak for the new administration,” Carter called on the US to “stay committed to the values and principles we stood for.”