There will be plenty of applause when NATO leaders gather in London to celebrate seven decades of the most successful military alliance in history.
But with a French president who calls it “brain dead”, a Turkish leader who is attacking U.S. allies and buying Russian weapons, and an American president who questions the entire premise of his superpower defending the West — the political future of NATO has rarely if ever seemed quite so dubious.
Queen Elizabeth will host the leaders at Buckingham Palace. But even the British hosts, for generations the most enthusiastic champions of the trans-Atlantic partnership that NATO represents, are disunited over their project of quitting the EU and distracted by a rancorous election next week.
NATO’s chief Jens Stoltenberg argues that despite quarrels that have made headlines, the alliance is in fine health, having strengthened its capability to carry out its core mission of defending Europe following Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.
Europe, Turkey and Canada will pledge $400 billion in defense spending by 2024, aiming to placate President Donald Trump who has long said U.S. allies need to spend more on the collective defense.
Leaders will also agree a new 2021-2024 budget that reduces the U.S. contribution to fund the alliance itself. They will approve a new strategy to monitor China’s growing military activity for the first time, and name space as a domain of warfare, along with air, land, sea and computer networks.
Still, allies with sore memories of a showdown with Trump at the last NATO summit in July 2018 will now also have to contend with two other presidents in attendance who have made NATO a foil: France’s Emmanuel Macron and Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan.
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