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James Mattis on Foreign Policy

 

 


NATO alliance is essential for America's security

In comments that are likely to create fresh tensions with the United States' closest European allies, President-elect Donald J. Trump described NATO as obsolete: "I took such heat when I said NATO was obsolete," Trump said. "It's obsolete because it wasn't taking care of terror. I took a lot of heat for two days. And then they started saying, 'Trump is right.'"

Trump's comments on NATO were striking because his nominee for secretary of defense, James N. Mattis, a retired Marine general, described the alliance as essential for Americans' security in testimony to Congress just three days ago.

Asked about Trump's previous criticism of NATO, General Mattis said he had spoken with him about the value of the alliance. "I have had discussions with him on this issue," General Mattis said. "He has shown himself open, even to the point of asking more questions, going deeper into the issue."

Source: New York Times on Trump Administration promises , Jan 15, 2017

Putin is trying to break the North Atlantic alliance

Asked by committee chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on how he thinks the U.S. should respond to Russian military activity and foreign policy, Mattis said, "Since Yalta, we have a long list of times that we've tried to engage positively with Russia. We have a relatively short list of successes in that regard. And right now, I think the most important thing is that we recognize the reality of what we are dealing with Mr. Putin and that we recognize that he is trying to break the North Atlantic alliance, and we take the steps, the integrated steps, the diplomatic, economic, military and the Alliance steps in working with our allies to defend ourselves where we must."
Source: Ballotpedia.org: 2017 Trump transition confirmation hearings , Jan 13, 2017

Supports NATO alliance principle of collective defense

Mattis diverged sharply from his prospective boss on Russia, calling Moscow one of the top threats to the American-led world order. "I'm all for engagement," Mattis said, "but we also have to recognize reality in terms of what Russia is up to."

Mattis also put daylight between himself and Trump on NATO and indicated strong support for the alliance's principle of collective defense. "My view is that nations with allies thrive, and nations without allies don't," Mattis said.

Source: N.Y. Times on 2017 Trump transition Confirmation Hearings , Jan 12, 2017

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Page last updated: Feb 28, 2019