News Analysis |
A day after he was sworn in as the United States’ 70th secretary of state, Mike Pompeo “hoped on a plane and went straight to Brussels” as he said himself. The message brought by the newly appointed secretary of state – what a foreign minister is called in the United States of America – was for the members of NATO to increase their military spending toward the cause of the organization up to 2% of their GDP.
He was received by NATO Chief Jen Stoltenberg, who viewed the earnestness with which US secretary of state made his way to the foreign ministers gathering at NATO headquarter as a sign of US commitment and seriousness toward the alliance. But it is imperative that the price for his arrival soon after being sworn will be US pressure on NATO members, especially largest and wealthiest European ally Germany, to do more for financing the whole operation.
With 3.62% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), United States of America is the highest contributor to NATO’s defense budget, followed by the United Kingdom and Estonia with more than 2% of their GDP going NATO’s way. In NATO summit held at Wales in 2016, a commitment was made by NATO allies to spend 2% of their GDP on defense which some countries are reluctant to live up to now.
The absence of effective and sovereign government with legitimacy coming from general population after the fall of Saddam Hussein left a vacuum which allowed ISIL to nourish in Iraq.
On Thursday, US Senate confirmed the appointment of CIA Director Mike Pompeo to spearhead US diplomacy after predecessor Rex Tillerson stepped down following his row with President Trump. Mike Pompeo is known for his inclination toward the policy of confrontation rather dialogue and as an avid foreign policy hawk. The biggest challenge which NATO alliance collectively faces right now is to ponder upon the optimal way to deal with Russian intimidation.
It is eventually feared by some countries that his predisposition toward confrontation could upset the adopted policy of diplomatic coercion coupled with military deterrence, designed to force Russia to mend its ways. During the cold war times, North Atlantic alliance had an objective and adversary to counter. After the fall of Soviet Union until recent expansion of Russian influence, the effectiveness and cohesion of alliance came under doubt several times.
But Russian ambitious geopolitical goals which started with the annexation of Crimea, followed by backing Assad regime and purportedly poisoning the Russian double agent in the UK, gave the NATO coalition a new goal to pivot their energies around. Yet the walk is not going to be easy, as Germany has vested economic interests with the state of Russia and might not bow down to President Trump’s demands. Recently, when the US decided to punish President Bashar Al-Assad for his alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians by preemptive air strikes, Germany decided not to join the cause.
With 3.62% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), United States of America is the highest contributor to NATO’s defense budget, followed by the United Kingdom and Estonia with more than 2% of their GDP going NATO’s way.
Donald Trump has been critical to the NATO alliance several times, worst coming in May 2017 when he sounded vague about Article 5 of the treaty, which pledges about mutual defense in case an ally is being attacked. The disparity in the financial contributions of the treaty organization had also left Donald Trump bewildered in the past where he called other members to up their share to lift the extra burden from US shoulders.
After mutual resentment shown by European allies, Donald Trump back-tracked his earlier stance and once again pledged that the United States will be coming to aid of its allies if they are attacked, as the Article 5 of North Atlantic treaty clearly states. It is certain that growing tension between Russia, US, and its allies has given a new life to the NATO alliance, but the way foreign ministers will convene in Brussels will set the tone for annual NATO summit in July 2018.
The agenda for the foreign ministers meet up includes discussion regarding the stationing of NATO troops in Iraq. The primary objective of the posting is to train the Iraqi soldiers, a country left in disarray after the US decided to invade it in the wake of September 11 twin tower attacks. The absence of effective and sovereign government with legitimacy coming from general population after the fall of Saddam Hussein left a vacuum which allowed ISIL to nourish in Iraq.