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New York Summit 2020: Do we still need NATO?

A dedicated patriot, intellectual and strategist, former Secretary of Defense and retired Marine Corps general James N. Mattis exemplifies principled leadership in times of turbulence. Here he provides us with his view on NATO

Through New York Summit 2020 -- this year transformed into a series of virtual sessions -- Danske Bank sheds light on the crucial future of American politics and geopolitics in the wake of the US presidential election as well as the state of global business and the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Watch a short recap

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Key takeaways from Mattis

  • The bottom line is that if we did not have NATO right now, we would design it and build it. NATO has always had internal disagreements; its strength is that we have always worked our way through them.
  • NATO has changed from a purely defensive organisation to a security organisation, so it is not quite as unified at times on some political issues, but that is normal in a democracy. NATO is not only essential today, it is probably more essential now than at any time since the Berlin Wall came down. I am a strong believer in NATO and so are the majority of the American people.
  • I am going to give you three words that guide my thinking and the thinking of many people in the US, and that is allies, allies and allies. As Condoleezza Rice used to teach us young generals when she was Secretary of State; remember that we do things with our allies and not to our allies.
  • The idea of 2% of GDP committed to the defence of our democracies is not exorbitant. At the height of the Cold War we were spending up to 30% and during World War 2 the American people put half their national taxes into defence. What we want to do is prevent that sort of situation, and that means we all have to commit. I think 2% is absolutely right.
  • We will not be able to keep the American people paying significantly more for defence than Europe. As I said when I went to NATO the first time as Secretary of Defense for Donald Trump; You cannot ask me to go back and ask American parents to care more about your children’s freedom than you care. You have to pay at least the 2% you all pledged to pay at the 2014 Wales Summit of NATO.

About Mattis

  • One of the preeminent leaders of his generation, Gen James Mattis has spent nearly 50 years in the service of his country. Renowned for his diligent study of war and his dogged efforts on the battlefield, Gen Mattis is described as a principled commander who is not afraid to tell it like it is.
  • A rare combination of thinker and doer, scholar and strategist, Gen Mattis knows the monumental powers and responsibility of our military forces, and the challenges of our dangerous and complex world.
  • His matchless dedication to his job and country earned him universal respect and reverence – from allies and adversaries alike. Gen Mattis served as the 26th Secretary of Defense of the United States for nearly two years before resigning with distinction. With his reputation as a sharp analyst and venerable wartime leader, Gen Mattis received nearly unanimous, bipartisan support for his nomination.

New York Summit - what you need to know

  • A recurring annual event for Danske Bank’s corporate and institutional clients about investments, economy, politics and geopolitics.
  • Featuring some of the world’s most prominent thinkers, analysts and strategists.
  • Usually the event takes place in New York. Due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, it was decided to transform this year’s event into a series of virtual sessions.

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