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NATO Is Thriving in Spite of Trump

Adversity Has Made the Alliance Stronger

U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to hold a news conference after participating in the NATO Summit in Brussels, July 2018 Kevin Lamarque / REUTERS

NATO’s foreign ministers will gather in Washington, D.C., on April 4 to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the alliance. But their festivities will hardly mask the profound anxiety about NATO’s future that is building on both sides of the Atlantic. U.S. President Donald Trump is, of course, the leading cause of the disquiet. His broadsides against allies for not spending enough on defense, his public ambiguity about whether the United States will stand by its commitment to collective defense, and his reported desire to withdraw the United States from the alliance raise fears that 2019 could be a year for eulogizing NATO rather than feting it. 

Trump’s diatribes are not the only cause of the unease. A broadening chorus of realist strategists claims that the United States is overdue for a major strategic retrenchment and that it is past time for Europe to tend its own garden.

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