By Robin Emmott
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – NATO leaders will seek reassurance on Monday (NASDAQ 🙂 from US President Joe Biden that after four years of vilification by his predecessor Donald Trump, the alliance can count on the support of the United States, its most powerful member.
In a smaller gathering than previous NATO summits, partly due to COVID-19 restrictions, with no fighter jet flights, the 30 allies will meet at their glass and steel headquarters to agree reforms for a multipolar world. post-Cold War. where China’s military rise presents a new challenge.
“The first thing is for Biden to re-commit to the collective defense of NATO,” said Jamie Shea, a former senior NATO official who was at a 2018 summit where Trump considered resigning from the alliance. “It just shows how easy it would have been for the United States to turn its back on the alliance,” said Shea, now at the Friends of Europe think tank.
Trump brought a reality TV quality to the NATO summits he attended from 2017 to 2019, experts and diplomats said, drawing a lot of international media attention but also draining allies whom he called “criminals.” “for not spending enough on defense.
Biden has already reversed Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from Germany.
While Biden is expected to convey the traditional American message that European allies must pay more for their own security, NATO seeks to go beyond Trump’s “America First” foreign policy.
“This summit with Biden should be a signal to the world that NATO is back,” said a senior European NATO diplomat who was also in the alliance during the Trump years.
“There was so much noise and it was a difficult time. But now we can talk about the things that matter, the security challenges that define our time,” said the envoy.
Founded in 1949 to contain a military threat from the Soviet Union, NATO celebrated its 70th anniversary at a summit in London in December 2019 and Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has argued that the transatlantic link is in good health, despite disputes. that made the headlines.
Russia, climate change, Afghanistan and new technologies are on the menu for the day-long summit, which will culminate with a special leadership session in the amphitheater-like North Atlantic Council chamber.
But having strengthened its ability to carry out its primary mission of defending Europe following Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, NATO now faces pressure to be more ambitious.
In a twist of fate, the NATO summit will discuss reforms to the alliance, known as NATO 2030, that were launched after Trump questioned their relevance.
Stoltenberg will establish nine areas in which NATO could modernize in the medium term, including increased joint Allied funding of military operations. However, France has already raised concerns about the proposal, fearing it will take money away from national military priorities.
The leaders are likely to agree to draft a new master strategy document, known as the NATO Strategic Concept, to include China’s military rise as a challenge for the first time.
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