WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — On Friday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement that he discussed the importance of the alliance and its defense spending with US President-elect Donald Trump.
Trump repeatedly said during his presidential campaign that Washington should review its relationships with NATO allies, which he insisted should pay more of the cost for having their security guaranteed by the United States.
"They [NATO] can’t afford to try to take a hardline against Russian aggression if the United States is not there," American University School of International Service Dean James Goldgeier told Sputnik.
If alliance members believe the United States is not there to support them, Goldgeier said, NATO will have to rethink and change its relationship with Russia.
Trump’s campaign rhetoric, Goldgeier claimed, represented more of a transactional approach to NATO wherein the United States would defend alliance members if they helped pay more of the expenses.
"It’s really not what NATO is about. If that’s the policy approach he takes, it is going to be devastating for the alliance," Goldgeier argued.
Goldgeier said he would not be surprised if Trump reverses many of the statements he made while campaigning but, even so, he needs to step up and make a firm declaration of support.
"The alliance cannot afford a lot of uncertainty about the US commitment," Goldgeier explained. "The uncertainty would just be damaging."
Harvard Kennedy School’s former Rajawali Senior Fellow and the author of “Peaceful War” Patrick Mendis told Sputnik that NATO cannot sustain its mission without significant American leadership.
"We [the United States] need to maintain our policy, with some alternations, with NATO, primarily because NATO was an American creation for collective security to advance our national interests and American values in Europe and elsewhere," Mendis, a former NATO military professor, asserted.
However, as Trump has said, Mendis added, there are ways that NATO countries can share greater responsibilities, especially when it comes to budget-related concerns.
Trump and his advisors must embrace the country’s founding values as a global nation and beacon of freedom in order to truly "Make America Great Again" or the United States will face negative consequences, Mendis warned.
"Not only Russia but also China would view America is flying low, with its wounds of a divided nation and failures of American democracy," Mendis concluded.
Earlier on Friday, Stoltenberg said he expected European NATO members and Canada to increase defense spending to 3 percent. Currently, only five NATO members, the United States, Greece, Estonia, Poland and the United Kingdom, spend the required 2 percent of their GDP on defense.