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The Real Problems With NATO

What Trump Gets Right, and Wrong

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speak at NATO headquarters in Brussels, February 2017. Eric Vidal / Reuters

On February 17–19, NATO leaders gathered at the annual Munich Security Conference to reassert their commitments to mutual defense. For the Europeans, the conference provided the first up-close glimpse at the defense policies of U.S. President Donald Trump, who had previously dismissed NATO as “obsolete” and had expressed doubt that the future of the EU “matters much for the United States.” The conference also came shortly after U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis told European leaders that “Americans cannot care more for your children’s security than you do.”

Despite a tense atmosphere, both the Americans and the Europeans were on their best behavior in Munich: both U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg expressed their continued commitment to the alliance. Yet the truth is that, renewal of vows notwithstanding, transatlantic relations are facing their greatest challenge in decades, with a resurgent Russia in the

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