McConnell Remarks On 75th Anniversary Of NATO, Responsibilities of American Leadership

‘America is the glue that keeps the Alliance together. … From Europe to the Middle East to the Indo-Pacific, the world is watching to see whether the United States still has the will to lead the West and preserve the international order responsible for our own prosperity for the better part of a century.’

WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding national security priorities and NATO:

“Last week, the strongest and most successful military alliance in the history of the world marked an impressive milestone. Seventy-five years ago, at the dawn of the Cold War, with decades of superpower competition on the horizon, the founding members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization convened here in Washington to formalize a commitment to collective security.

“In the years since, NATO has grown from twelve to thirty-two allies.

“The Transatlantic Alliance has always required management. Alliances always do. But as Churchill observed: the only thing worse than fighting alongside allies is fighting without them. 

“While we have experienced periods of pronounced tension within the Alliance, today is not one of them.

“Nations on both sides of the Atlantic have increasingly concluded that common threats are best met with shared resolve.

“Most recently, of course, the alliance has been proud to welcome Sweden and Finland to our ranks. With highly capable militaries and advanced economies, our newest allies were already taking their defense seriously. And in the face of Vladimir Putin’s brutal escalation in Ukraine, they decided to share the burden of collective security.

“But Russian aggression hasn’t just expanded the NATO alliance. It’s also prompted longtime allies to take their treaty obligations even more seriously.

“Just last week, the Norwegian government confirmed that it would meet the NATO 2% defense spending target this year, and that it would nearly double its defense budget over the next twelve. For a wealthy country like Norway with one of the highest per capita GDPs in the world, this is a big deal. 

“And across the alliance, members are making historic new commitments to strengthen their militaries and expand their defense industrial capacity.

“European allies have contracted to buy 600 cutting-edge American F-35 aircraft to add to their arsenals. On the whole, they’re already meeting the 2% target. And NATO leaders expect more individual members to reach it by the July summit here in Washington.

“Now, there’s still work to be done. Not every ally is taking its treaty obligations seriously enough. And one of the most concerning laggards isn’t even a European country, but our neighbor to the north!

“Like America, Canada is at once an Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic nation, and it’s time for Ottawa to take its obligations to NATO, to NORAD, and to its own defense more seriously.

“That said, for our European allies, the holiday from history really is over. And their greater investments in collective defense also include growing contributions to Ukraine’s defense. In fact, eighteen countries are making larger relative contributions to helping Ukraine resist Russian aggression than the United States.

“Of course, this doesn’t absolve America from playing a leading role. America is the glue that keeps the Alliance together. We are a critical catalyst of Allied contributions. Nations all over the world look to Washington for guidance.

“From before Russian forces even advanced in February 2022, I’ve urged the Biden Administration to quit its hand-wringing and hesitation over delivering Ukraine the lethal tools it needed to defend itself.

“The President’s unfounded fear of escalation deprived our friends of the advanced, long-range capabilities they needed to make a more decisive stand against Putin’s forces sooner. And avoidable supply shortages continue to prevent Ukraine from taking the fight to Russian occupiers across the front lines.

“The conflict is at a critical moment. And it’s exactly the wrong time for folks on our side of the aisle to imitate and compound the timidity and short-sightedness of our Commander-in-Chief which he has displayed since the outset of this conflict.

“The vast majority of armed conflicts end in negotiated settlements. But whenever and however this particular conflict is resolved, it is in America’s interests that Ukraine operate from a position of strength.

“Our own security… The security of our closest allies and most important trading partners… The credibility of America’s commitments…

“None of these interests are served by withholding assistance to Ukraine or withholding urgent investments in the sort of industrial capacity and capabilities that both our friends and our own armed forces need.

“Starving Ukraine of needed capabilities wasn’t a smart way for the Biden Administration to avoid escalation. And neither is it a political masterstroke by some of the Administration’s Republican opponents.

“It is strategic and moral malpractice that risks dooming Ukraine and undermining our own national interests.

“From Europe to the Middle East to the Indo-Pacific, the world is watching to see whether the United States still has the will to lead the West and preserve the international order responsible for our own prosperity for the better part of a century.

“So I will continue to urge our House colleagues to take up and pass the national security supplemental without delay.”


Related Issues: National Security, Russia, Ukraine, NATO