https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-44767847Can Nato survive US President Donald Trump?
11 July 2018
This is a Nato summit like no other. The difference is in large part due to one man - Donald Trump. Under his watch, periodic tensions between the US and many of its allies have turned into fault-lines that could, if allowed to widen, place a question mark over the future of the alliance itself.
What is Nato for? From its inception, Nato was a defensive military alliance intended to deter any attack by the then Soviet Union.
Once the Cold War was over, Nato set about what it saw as its new tasks: an attempt to spread stability across Europe by welcoming in new members, by establishing a wide range of partnerships with other countries but also by using force on occasion - notably in the Balkans - to prevent aggression and genocide. But the alliance has always been more than just a military organisation.It is one of the central institutions of "the West", part of a whole range of international bodies through which the US and its allies sought to regulate the world that emerged from the defeat of Nazism in 1945. But fundamentally, Nato is an alliance of shared values and transatlantic unity. And this is why Mr Trump's arrival in the White House is proving so disruptive. Is the transatlantic bond unravelling? Superficially, at least, the growing tensions between the US president and many of his Nato allies is about money. Burden-sharing, as it is called, has long been a headline issue at Nato summits. Mr Trump is not the first president to stress this issue.
But in terms of both style and substance he represents something new. The debate focuses around the target agreed by all Nato members that defence spending should reach 2% of GDP (gross domestic product, the total value of goods produced and services provided) by 2024.
Spending is certainly up in many countries. Mr Trump can take some credit for that. But many allies may still struggle to reach the benchmark target.
For President Trump, Germany, one of the richest of Washington's partners, is the greatest offender. Earlier this month, in remarks directed at the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, he said: "I don't know how much protection we get from protecting you."
Noting that Germany negotiated gas deals with Russia, he added: "They pay billions of dollars to Russia and we're the schmucks paying for the whole thing." Questioning the value of Nato to the US itself is something new and deeply worrying to many of Washington's partners.
How serious is the Russian threat?
The strategic challenges facing Nato are changing. They are, at one and the same time, more complex but less easily defined. They range from a resurgent Russia to information- and cyber-war, from terrorism to mass migration. Even the Russian threat has changed. This is not the Soviet Union of old. The threat is less huge Russian tank armies surging westwards but a whole range of strategies from hacking to cyber-attacks to information operations, all intended to throw Western democracies off-balance.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/11/worl ... ummit.htmlTrump Presses NATO on Military Spending, but Signs Its Criticism of R
By Julie Hirschfeld Davis, July 11, 2018
BRUSSELS — President Trump escalated his campaign of criticism against European allies on Wednesday, accusing Germany of being “captive to Russia” and demanding that all NATO members double their military spending targets.
On the first of two days of meetings with NATO leaders, Mr. Trump stopped short of any substantive breaks with the alliance, reaching agreement on a plan to improve military readiness and signing on to a joint statement that emphasized burden-sharing and harshly criticized Russia.
But coming just days before he is to meet President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, Mr. Trump’s critical stance toward the allies focused additional attention on longstanding concerns by the United States about the willingness of Europe to shoulder its share of the financial burden for NATO. Mr. Trump again demanded that the allies all meet their commitment to raise their military budgets to 2 percent of their economic output by 2024, but then further stepped up the pressure by saying they should make it 4 percent.
More broadly, his performance, leavened at times by a more reassuring tone, left his fellow leaders struggling anew to judge whether he was posturing in an effort to win a better deal for the United States, moving to weaken institutions at the heart of the post-World War II order or both.
Mr. Trump was primed for confrontation before the gathering was even called to order in a large glass-and-steel NATO headquarters building that he has complained looks overly lavish. At a breakfast with Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary general, Mr. Trump suggested that he had come to Brussels as a virtual pariah among allies, and was perfectly happy to be seen that way.
“I think the secretary general likes Trump,” he said, alluding to allies’ stepping up their military spending in response to his pressure tactics. “He may be the only one, but that’s O.K. with me.” Indeed, Mr. Trump spent the next several few hours practically ensuring it. He laid into Germany for not spending more on its military while becoming increasingly dependent on Russia for its energy needs. His criticism was based on Germany’s deal to import natural gas from Russia via a new pipeline. He dismissed as paltry — “a very small step,” the president said — the increases that NATO member countries have made in their military budgets in part because of his repeated lectures on the issue, eschewing a victory lap his advisers had encouraged him to take in favor of a sharp slap at allies.
“Frankly, many countries owe us a tremendous amount of money for many years back, where they’re delinquent, as far as I’m concerned, because the United States has had to pay for them,” Mr. Trump said, mischaracterizing how the commitments for NATO military spending work. “This has gone on for many presidents, but no other president brought it up like I bring it up.”
“Something has to be done,” he added.
His comments came at a time when Mr. Trump’s own ties to Russia are under scrutiny and as he is also waging a spreading trade war that has ensnared allies — including NATO members like Canada and Germany — as well as foes and competitors like China. His approach has fueled concern among his critics at home and abroad that he is intent on deconstructing the postwar order and replacing it with an “America First” breed of transactional diplomacy. At the same time, Mr. Trump’s aggressive pressure tactics have already yielded more military spending by NATO allies and a sharper focus on the issue of unbalanced burden-sharing within NATO that vexed Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush before him. Behind closed doors, Mr. Trump suggested that NATO allies increase their military budgets not to the 2 percent of their economies that they have pledged to work toward within the next six years, but to 4 percent — a steep increase that is inconceivable for many member countries. Later, he took to Twitter to demand that member countries get to 2 percent “IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025.” “What good is NATO if Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for gas and energy?” the president wrote. “Why are there only 5 out of 29 countries that have met their commitment? The U.S. is paying for Europe’s protection, then loses billions on Trade.”