The new NATO headquarters building is pictured in Brussels, Belgium, May 2018.
Francois Lenoir / REUTERS

Few NATO summits have captured the attention of this one—but for all the wrong reasons. On July 11, 29 heads of state and government will arrive at the new NATO headquarters building in Brussels. All eyes will be on U.S. President Donald Trump, looking for the slightest sign that a repeat of the chaos at this year’s G-7 meeting is in the making. Such a distraction from what will be a substantive NATO agenda is a pity. There is real work going on within the alliance as it continues its rush to shore up deterrence against further Russian aggression in the east, takes on a greater counterterrorism role in Iraq, and works to counter new threats in the cybersphere.

SUMMITS PAST AND PRESENT

Over the past four years, there has been no letup in the almost frantic NATO preparation for possible conflict on the European continent. Four months after being caught flatfooted by the Russian seizure of Crimea, NATO approved the base-line Readiness Action Plan at the 2014 Wales summit. The plan included a continuous air, land, and maritime presence across the NATO frontier with Russia. Among other initiatives, the alliance increased the size and readiness of the NATO Response Force and established a

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  • JULIANNE SMITH is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Transatlantic Security Program at the Center for a New American Security and a former Deputy National Security Adviser to Vice President Joseph Biden. JIM TOWNSEND is an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security and a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and NATO Policy.
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