Time Looks Ripe for Japan-NATO Cooperation

NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg welcomes the Japanese defense minister, Tomomi Inada, in Brussels, January 5
NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg welcomes the Japanese defense minister, Tomomi Inada, in Brussels, January 5 (NATO)

Strategic thinkers have proposed closer cooperation between Japan and NATO for more than a decade. The circumstances are now such that this could become a reality. Read more

Trump Uses 9/11 Memorial to Hector NATO Allies

NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg, American president Donald Trump and British prime minister Theresa May attend a ceremony at NATO headquarters in Brussels, May 25
NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg, American president Donald Trump and British prime minister Theresa May attend a ceremony at NATO headquarters in Brussels, May 25 (NATO)

NATO officials had hoped inviting Donald Trump to speak at the dedication of a 9/11 memorial in Brussels would remind of the value of the transatlantic relationship.

The only time the Western alliance’s mutual-defense clause was invoked was after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

But Trump used the ceremony at NATO headquarters to berate his allies for not paying “what they’re supposed to be paying for their defense.” Read more

NATO Throws Austria Under the Bus to Appease Turks

NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg meets with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Ankara, April 21, 2016
NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg meets with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Ankara, April 21, 2016 (NATO)

On the eve of a leaders summit in Brussels, NATO has found a way to salvage its partnership program with 41 nations in Europe and the Middle East which Turkey had threatened to suspend.

A last-minute compromise sees Austria withdrawing from NATO peacekeeping operations in the Balkans and Turkey holding back from severing ties with other non-allied partner states.

The Turks were outraged when Austria called on the EU to end accession talks in the wake of last year’s failed military coup against Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. His government has since purged tens of thousands of soldiers and civil servants on the pretext of disloyalty. Erdoğan has given himself broad powers and imprisoned opposition leaders. Read more

European Military Cooperation Need Not Weaken NATO

Italian and Portuguese army units take part in a NATO exercise in Santa Margarida, Portugal, October 21, 2015
Italian and Portuguese army units take part in a NATO exercise in Santa Margarida, Portugal, October 21, 2015 (Sebastien Frechette)

Tomáš Valášek, the director of Carnegie Europe, argues that European allies cannot assume Donald Trump’s aversion to NATO is an anomaly and the next president will put things right. The United States have been cooling on NATO for years, he writes:

A number of factors — a crisis in Europe that grips Americans’ imagination, an articulate pro-European leader in Washington, a crisis in the United States that the European allies help resolve — could revive America’s flagging interest in the alliance it created nearly seventy years ago. But for now, the passage of time and memories work against NATO.

Valášek is nevertheless uneasy about Europeans exploring a “backup” to the Atlantic alliance, arguing that continental security cooperation cannot come close to what Europe and North America have now.

Without plans, commands and sophisticated weapons in meaningful numbers, the Europeans may not on their own impress Russia, he warns — “and may therefore be unable to deter it from misbehaving.” Read more

What’s Wrong with Trump’s NATO Bill to Germany

German chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with American president Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, March 17
German chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with American president Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, March 17 (Bundesregierung)

American president Donald Trump reportedly presented Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, with a $374 billion invoice for missed contributions to NATO when she visited Washington DC earlier this month.

As first reported by The Times, Trump arrived at the figure by calculating how much Germany has fallen short of NATO’s 2-percent defense spending target since 2002 and then adding interest.

A German official described the move as “outrageous” to The Times. Merkel ignored it.

It’s hard to imagine a previous president treating an ally so cruelly, but the story is not at all unbelievable given what we know about Trump: that he humiliates people, is intimidated by powerful women and sees international relations in transactional terms. Read more

Mattis Alarms NATO by Threatening to “Moderate” Commitment

American defense secretary James Mattis and NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg deliver a news conference in Brussels, February 15
American defense secretary James Mattis and NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg deliver a news conference in Brussels, February 15 (NATO)

Donald Trump’s defense secretary, James Mattis, warned allies on Wednesday that the United States might “moderate” their commitment to NATO unless European countries and Canada raise their own military spending.

“Americans cannot care more for your children’s future security than you do,” Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general, told defense minister in Brussels.

America will meet its responsibilities, but if your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to this alliance, each of your capitals needs to show support for our common defense.

Which sounds reasonable, were it not for Mattis’ boss, Trump. He has called NATO “obsolete” and suggested trading sanctions on Russia — which have hurt European economies far more than the United States’ — for a nuclear deal. It looks like America is already “moderating” its commitment to the alliance under this president, no matter what countries across the Atlantic do. Read more

Europe Can Resist Trump in These Four Ways

French president François Hollande, German chancellor Angela Merkel and European Council president Donald Tusk march with other world leaders in Paris, January 11, 2015
French president François Hollande, German chancellor Angela Merkel and European Council president Donald Tusk march with other world leaders in Paris, January 11, 2015 (Bundesregierung)

If there was still any hope in Europe that Donald Trump might turn out to be less disruptive than he promised, the first weeks of his presidency must have put such hopes to rest.

It’s been less than two weeks and Trump has already disheartened America’s allies in Asia by withdrawing from the Trans Pacific Partnership, giving China a golden opportunity to take charge of regional economic integration; offended Australia and Mexico but hinted at improved relations with Russia, and banned Muslim immigrants and refugees from seven countries — including those who were previously approved for a visa — making a mockery of the rule of law and betraying a complete lack of compassion.

Imagine the damage he can — and will — do in four years. Read more