A Belgian soldier welcomes a German army battalion to a NATO exercise in Lithuania, February 2017.
Ints Kalnins / Reuters

Europe is feeling a bit abandoned these days. Used to regular reassurances from Washington on its commitment to transatlantic security, European leaders are now shifting their defense strategies in response to mixed signals from President Donald Trump on the United States’ role in NATO. Even Secretary of Defense James Mattis has come down hard on the alliance, demanding that Europe “show its support for our common defense” or else Washington would alter the nature of their partnership. Worried Europeans, however, may be slightly comforted by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s decision to attend a NATO foreign ministers’ meeting on March 31, after originally planning to miss the gathering.

Fear that the United States might not live up to its promises, especially to the alliance’s eastern members, has led to a modest uptick in European conventional military outlays, which rose 0.5 percent in 2015 and 3.8 percent in 2016 year in real

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