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European Security in the Trump Era

In the first year of Donald Trump's presidency, the fear that he would abandon America's longstanding commitment to European security was not borne out. But that does not change the fact that Europe has entered a new world of hard-power conflicts in which it can no longer rely on others for its defense.

MUNICH – At last year’s Munich Security Conference, the mood of fear and apprehension among European security officials was palpable. Three years earlier, Russia had annexed Crimea and launched incursions into Eastern Ukraine. And in the previous year, a narrow majority of British voters had decided to take their country out of the European Union, and Americans had elected a president who was critical of NATO and openly admired Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Still, the West has so far survived the age of Donald Trump. And, despite the ongoing confusion over Brexit and German leaders’ difficulty in forming a new government, the EU seems to have bounced back. Most member states’ economies are doing well, and French President Emmanuel Macron’s administration is breathing new life into the European idea.

Although the Trump administration has continued to send mixed signals about its willingness to uphold American commitments, the US has nonetheless delivered on former President Barack Obama’s pledge to strengthen NATO’s military posture in the Baltics and Poland. And in the run-up to a NATO summit later this year, the US has indicated that it will do even more to ensure the territorial integrity of Baltic and Scandinavian member states.

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