Saving NATO From Trump
The upcoming NATO summit does not have to be a high-drama, make-or-break moment for the transatlantic alliance, as some have presented it. It can instead be a constructive meeting that emphasizes strengthening the foundations for defense – even if Donald Trump refuses to cooperate.
MADRID – Sixty-nine years ago, the foreign ministers of 12 countries in North America and Western Europe gathered in Washington, DC, to sign the North Atlantic Treaty, in which they “resolved to unite their efforts for collective defense and for the preservation of peace and security.” The organization that emerged, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, has undergirded the longest period of sustained peace and prosperity in the West’s modern history. And yet, on July 11, NATO’s 29 members will begin what is likely to be the most fraught summit in the organization’s history.
At last year’s summit, US President Donald Trump’s hostile tone sent shockwaves through the transatlantic alliance. America’s allies had already known, of course, that Trump could be erratic and extreme, but they had expected his administration’s more seasoned members to keep him in check. That belief turned out to be misplaced, to say the least.
The blows to the transatlantic alliance have kept coming. Trump has unilaterally imposed tariffs on other NATO members, citing national security concerns, of all things. And, most notably, at last month’s G7 summit in Quebec, he showed unprecedented hostility toward America’s closest allies, launching personal attacks against Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and backing out of the final communiqué in response to a perceived slight.