US President Donald Trump throughout his 2016 election campaign repeatedly called into question the viability of NATO, the disproportionate US financial contribution to the Alliance and Washington’s pledge to defend NATO’s members as per Article 5 of the Washington Treaty that established the alliance in 1949.
Townsend noted that NATO has a good history of adaptation to the challenges the world has faced over the years and believes that Trump will see that as he gets to know the alliance.
“It [NATO] moved from being a Cold War alliance focused on the Soviet Union-Warsaw Pact and has moved away from that kind of thing and has adapted to the security conditions as the alliance finds them today, whether it is problems that southern allies have with instability in northern Africa or in Africa, Turkey’s issues with its border with Syria, what’s happening with ISIL [Daesh], counterterrorism,” Townsend explained.
“There’s all kinds of things that show NATO has adapted to deal with problems of today. I think the president will see that,” Townsend stressed. “The world is constantly changing and NATO has to change along with that and it has shown that it can do that.”
On the first full work day of the Trump Administration on Monday, Mattis spoke with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg “to reinforce the importance he places on the alliance,” according to the Pentagon.
Townsend also said that the new US Administration will take on the challenge of helping to find a diplomatic settlement to the ongoing conflict in Syria.
“We need to find a political solution there as soon as we can to stop the fighting. There are a lot of parties that have to be part of those talks to do that. The US has got to be part of it, Turkey, there’s a number of players, Russia is part of this,” Townsend said. “I think the sooner we can get the nations to sit down and the various actors to sit down and come up with a political framework to stop the fighting, the sooner we can do that the better. I think the new administration will take that on, I hope they do.”