Now is Not the Time for the US to Abandon NATO – Nor Should its European Allies Go it Alone

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Oct. 20, 2016On both sides of the Atlantic leaders have always understood that a stronger, safer and more prosperous Europe means a stronger, safer and more prosperous United States. This partnership between Europe and the United States, embodied in the Nato alliance, remains essential for both.

In the last few years we have seen a dramatic deterioration of our security, with a more assertive Russia and turmoil across north Africa and the Middle East. Nato allies have responded together. We have implemented the biggest reinforcement of our collective defence since the cold war. And the United States has significantly strengthened its commitment to European security, deploying a new armoured brigade to eastern Europe and delivering equipment and supplies to support future reinforcements if needed.

This is deterrence, not aggression. We do not seek to provoke a conflict, but to prevent a conflict. Nato battalions numbering thousands of troops cannot be compared with Russian divisions numbering tens of thousands just across the border. Our response is defensive and proportionate. But it sends a clear and unmistakable message: an attack against one will be met by a response from all….

At the 2014 Wales summit, every Nato ally pledged to stop cuts and increase defence spending to 2% of GDP within a decade. Since then, European allies have delivered, with the United Kingdom showing significant leadership. This year, 22 Nato allies will increase defence spending, leading to a total of 3% increase in real terms. And I expect that next year we will see the third consecutive year of increased defence spending in Europe….

In these uncertain times we need strong American leadership, and we need Europeans to shoulder their fair share of the burden. But above all we need to recognise the value of the partnership between Europe and America. It remains indispensable. So rather than deepening our differences, we need to nurture what unites us, and find the wisdom and foresight to work together for common solutions. Going it alone is not an option, either for Europe or for the United States.

Jens Stoltenberg is NATO secretary general and former prime minister of Norway.

Image: Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Oct. 20, 2016 (photo: NATO)