Nothing can mar the positive track record of the 70-year Alliance in both consistency and results. The Atlantic alliance has just celebrated its 70th anniversary in Washington amid a tense atmosphere with Russia, which inevitably conjures up the atmosphere rooted at the time of its founding on April 4, 1949. However, this is not the main concern of the 29 countries that are currently part of the Alliance, despite the danger of Russia’s expansionist reflexes and the emergence of a new bipolarity between Washington and the incipient alliance between Moscow and Beijing. With his distrustful attitude, Donald Trump represents the main disturbance in the anniversary of what has undoubtedly been the most long-lived and successful defensive alliance in history.
The president has numerous reservations, the most basic of which affects the nature of the alliances that — to his mercantilist mentality — can only be measured by the profits they bring to his country. During these 70 years of NATO’s existence, any benefits to the hegemonic superpower and its role in stability, peace, prosperity and dissemination of liberal and democratic values have been taken out of the calculations in terms of gains and losses.
The second complaint — already raised by former presidents — concerns Europe’s limited contributions to the budget. Although this is being addressed extensively — as pointed out by Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg — the solution to Europe’s expenditure problem is not spending more, but proper spending, in a rational and coordinated manner. Trump wishes not only to reduce his country’s contributions, but to obtain benefits as well, such as charging for the cost of hosting their bases in European territory and ensuring that the largest expenditure goes toward purchasing U.S.-manufactured weaponry.
The third and most serious reservation concerns the core values of the Alliance, which do not spark much enthusiasm in the current White House. The president’s overt doubts about Article 5, which supports the joint commitment of mutual defense in case of an attack, have weakened the Alliance. As have his sympathies for regimes with authoritarian tendencies, among which, unfortunately, there are at least three Atlantic partners: Hungary, Poland and Turkey. Nothing can mar the positive track record of the 70-year Alliance in both consistency and results like a reluctant attitude from the president of the United States, of which strategic adversaries of the Alliance have already taken careful note.