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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Former NATO leader supports U.S. global police role

Rasmussen speaks at St. Joe’s about NATO’s mission.

Former Danish prime minister and Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the future of NATO’s mission to maintain global security depends on the United States’ leadership.

Rasmussen was the featured speaker at an event this month hosted by the Office of Veteran’s Services in Wolfington Teletorium.

“I was very concerned about [President Trump’s] statements as a candidate because he raised doubts about American commitment to defending allies that might be attacked,” Rasmussen said.

In response to President Donald Trump’s comments on NATO during his 2016 presidential campaign, Rasmussen said President Trump undermined the credibility of NATO’s Article 5, which also undermines deterrence.

“But as a president, I think he has moderated his tone,” Rasmussen said. “He has recommitted to Article 5.”

Article 5 is the most significant article of the NATO founding treaty, which binds NATO member states to a collective defense to an attack. Article 5 is commonly summarized as “an attack on one is an attack on all.” NATO was created in 1949 when the 12 original member nations signed the North Atlantic Treaty, and committed to a political and military alliance.

NATO’s original concern was combating the threat of communist Russia. At its inception, the first Secretary General of NATO, Hastings Ismay, described the organization’s purpose as “keep[ing] the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down. NATO now has 29 member states.”

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former Danish prime minister talks about NATO and the Unted States role in NATO’s
mission (Photo by Ann Marie Maloney ’18).

“The fundamental mission [of NATO] is still to maintain the relationship between these countries militarily and more broadly— diplomatically,” said Leslie Schumacher, Ph.D., visiting assistant professor of history.

President Trump criticized other NATO member states for not contributing two percent of their GDP toward defense spending, a benchmark currently met by just five NATO member nations, in his speech at a NATO summit in May 2017. NATO member states do not pay into a communal fund to finance NATO. Rather, each member state sets aside a small percent of their defense budget toward NATO activities.

“The grace of America’s role in NATO should be that they come to the table with these people from countries large and small, with powerful militaries and less powerful militaries, and say we’re all in this together, we’re all equal,” Schumacher said. “The United States is going to take up a larger portion of the burden because we’re a bigger and more powerful country.”

During his remarks, Rasmussen emphasized the continuing relevance of NATO and the expanding role of the organization in global security.

Rasmussen said that in light of recent antagonistic actions by Russia, the world needs a global policeman to restore law and order.

“The only candidate to exercise that task as global policeman is the United States,” Rasmussen said.

Natalie Domas ’18, an international relations major, said Rasmussen’s arguments are controversial, but she appreciated his insight.

“The talk mostly gave a new perspective on the inner workings of NATO and how people involved in [NATO] react to those global challenges that come up out of nowhere,” said Domas. “It showed how intricate diplomacy really is, and how much of a fine line there is between peace and possible conflict.”

Rasmussen emphasized the continuing relevance of NATO’s original mission.

“Instead of saying keeping the Russians out, keeping the Americans in and the Germans down, I would say, today, keep the Russians out, the Americans in and the Europeans engaged,” Rasmussen said.

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