While The American Legion’s advocacy for a strong national defense is not new, American Legion National Commander Brett Reistad met with the top U.S. diplomat for NATO in Brussels Monday to see how that message can translate to further support from America’s allies.
“It was an honor to meet with NATO Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison to discuss not only threats that face our nation, but the shared responsibility that all freedom-loving countries have in maintaining peace and stability throughout the world,” Reistad said. “It is particularly poignant that during the same week that Europe observes the 75th anniversary of D-Day, we never forget that it was an allied effort that prevailed over Nazi-tyranny. America has always had strong allies and we continue to rely on partners in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Alliances are also needed to deter other countries from aggression.”
Hutchison, a former U.S. senator from Texas, reiterated the Trump administration’s call for NATO allies to spend more on defense. The administration would like to see its NATO partners achieve their agreed-upon goal to spend at least two percent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on defense. A number of NATO members are falling short of that commitment and only the United States spends more than 3 percent. The lack of commitment by some American allies is particularly alarming in an era where aggressive actions by Russia, China and Iran represent threats to peace.
“We thought that after the break-up of the Soviet Union that Russia might be a partner for peace, even possibly a member of NATO,” Hutchison said. “But Russia is still trying to get access to former Soviet republics. We have to be strong and we have to deter Russia.”
Calling the United States “the overarching defense” of NATO, Hutchison pointed out that the alliance enjoys bipartisan support in Congress. “We do love our military,” Hutchison said. “Congress supports defense spending and so does the public. Now we’re talking to other ambassadors about how to talk about defense to their publics. Some countries are spending but have a difficult time communicating this investment to their populations. In the United States, we have organizations like (The American Legion), which are so important in keeping that support for our military.”