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Mattis in Germany: Russia Must Know 'What We Will Not Tolerate'

In Germany today to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Marshall Plan, Defense Secretary James Mattis said Russia needs to understand what the United States “will not tolerate” when it comes to engagement with Washington.

Mattis spoke at the Marshall Center in Garmisch-Partenkirchen of his “surprise of being assigned to this job” and of his “deep respect” for Germany and “this country’s troops for their professionalism, for their courage and for their sacrifices on shared battlefields against Afghanistan and against ISIS or any other agents of terror and all the world …your ethical performance is a model for all others and we in the United States Department of Defense are grateful for our strong alliance with the German military.”

He declared the U.S. commitment to NATO’s Article V security guarantee to be “ironclad.”

“Western values, respect for a rules based order and for national sovereignty, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the dignity of the human person — these are values worth defending,” he said.

Mattis wrapped up his remarks, which largely focused on the history and results of the Marshall Plan, “with a message to the nation choosing to challenge this secure and peaceful order.”

“The United States seeks to engage with Russia and so does the NATO alliance but Russia must know both what we stand for and equally, what we will not tolerate. We stand for freedom and we will never surrender the freedom of our people or the values of our alliance that we hold dear,” he said.

“I mentioned a moment ago that discouraged people are in need of inspiration and there are millions of people like that who live today in Russia. Their leader making mischief beyond Russian borders will not restore their fortunes or rekindle their hope. And while we will meet with any aggression with what Danish Defense Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen said was determination, deterrence and purpose, we will also watch for a Russia that honors its people enough to abide by international law and so wins for them peace the we all offer.”

The Defense secretary noted that NATO troops are currently deployed in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, “and they demonstrate NATO’s resolve.”

“I am grateful to those host nations as well as to the framework nations, Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States and of course, Germany for sending their fine troops to lead in this wholly defensive mission, augmented by troops from ten other NATO nations,” Mattis said.

“This is a profound example of a united NATO. Our alliance has long been a stabilizing force in Europe and it helps preserve the rules-based international order today, and it serves again now to keep the peace and defend the shared values that grew out of the enlightenment.”