US Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Friday defended Washington’s pressuring Nato allies to contribute more money toward their own defense, saying the Western alliance cannot permit “free riders.”
Responding to questions at the Council on Foreign Relations about President Donald Trump’s criticism of other Nato members, Esper said the United States was not being unreasonable to demand they spend more.
“Our alliances are not transactional ones. Rather, they are rooted in mutual respect, common values and a shared willingness to fight for them,” Esper said.
“Much of the world looks to the United States as the global security partner of choice. Not only because of our superior military capabilities and equipment, but also because of our values.”
He stressed it was an obligation to the alliance for countries to contribute more.