Retired Gen. James Mattis offered unqualified support for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization during his Thursday Senate confirmation hearing to serve as Defense Secretary, and accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of trying to break the alliance, which has served as the bedrock of American and European security since 1949.
Mattis was careful not to disparage Donald Trump as senators repeatedly pressed him to answer for the President-elect’s threats to only ensure U.S. protection for NATO allies who fulfilled their financial obligations under the treaty.
The retired general vowed to stand behind NATO “100 percent” when asked by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) how Trump would respond if some member countries don’t “pony up” financial dues.
He called the treaty “vital to our security,” and said he was “confident” that Trump expected his national security team to “live up to our word” in Article 5 of the treaty, which enshrines collective defense.
“My view is that nations with allies thrive and nations without allies don't,” he said earlier in the hearing in response to a question by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) about his support for the alliance.
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