National Security

NATO Appears To Be Taking Steps To Become Less ‘Obsolete’


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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
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President Donald Trump is a known critic of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), but the alliance appears to be taking steps to address some of the issues the president believes are hampering it, including the potential creation of a new role to oversee counter-terrorism efforts.

Trump has criticized NATO for its inability to address the growing threat of terrorism. He referred to the alliance as “obsolete” in January and lambasted members for failing meet their defense spending requirements. The new counter-terrorism position would follow last year’s creation of a similar post focusing on intelligence, a move which Trump has frequently praised, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The new position is not without its critics. Some diplomats would prefer to see an expansion in counter-terrorism initiatives across the alliance before the creation of a new post. NATO officials will formally consider the creation of the position at a May 5 meeting, officials told the WSJ. The U.S. has not made any official proposal for the position or an expansion of counter-terrorism initiatives, which could make future planning difficult, according to some NATO members.

NATO’s current initiatives appear to have already improved Trump’s view of the alliance.

“The secretary-general and I had a productive discussion about what more NATO can do in the fight against terrorism. I complained about that a long time ago and they made a change, and now they do fight terrorism,” said Trump during a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in April. “I said it was obsolete. It’s no longer obsolete.”

Like Trump, Stoltenberg has been a vocal proponent of NATO members increasing defense spending. Only five of the alliance’s 28 members are expected to meet the required two percent spending of their gross domestic product on defense in fiscal year 2016 budgets, though some improvement has been made overall.

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