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Pompeo: NATO Must Change or Risk Becoming ‘Ineffective or Obsolete’

Banners displaying the NATO logo are placed at the entrance of new NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium April 19, 2018.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Friday that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization could become “obsolete” if it cannot adapt to the issues of the modern world.

“If nations believe that they can get the security benefit without providing NATO the resources that it needs, if they don’t live up to their commitments, there is a risk that NATO could become ineffective or obsolete,” Pompeo said after a speech in Berlin on Friday, a day before the three-decade anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, considered to be one of NATO’s major successes.

“Seventy years on … it [NATO] needs to grow and change,” the secretary of state said. “It needs to confront the realities of today and the challenges of today.”

However, Pompeo added that he sees the 29-state alliance founded in 1949 as one of the most important “in all recorded history.”

A day earlier, French president Emmanuel Macron lamented the “brain death of NATO” and responded “I don’t know” when asked whether he still believes in the treaty’s security agreement that an attack on one ally is an attack on all.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel pushed back on Macron’s characterization, saying she sees the state of the alliance in a less “drastic” light.

“The French president has found rather drastic words to express his views. This is not how I see the state of cooperation at NATO,” Merkel responded.

President Trump called NATO “obsolete” on the 2016 campaign trail and during his first few weeks in office, saying the organization is “obsolete because it wasn’t taking care of terror.” He has continuously complained about America’s outsized contribution to the alliance since taking office and has urged European allies to contribute more revenue. However, he has since reversed his opinion, saying the alliance has made changes to his satisfaction.

“I complained about that a long time ago, and they made a change — and now they do fight terrorism,” Trump said in April of 2017. “I said it was obsolete. It’s no longer obsolete.”

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