The lead-up to this week’s NATO Summit in Brussels has been marked by growing uncertainty as to the future of the alliance. U.S. President Donald Trump has denounced countries such as Canada and Germany, among others, that have failed to put in place a plan to spend 2 per cent of their gross domestic product on defence, as first agreed by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization members in 2006 and again in 2014. In the United States, which spends about 3.6 per cent of its GDP on defence, frustration has been growing for years. Under Mr. Trump, it is boiling over.
The United States is unlikely to leave Europe any time soon. In January, it released a national-defence strategy that relegated terrorism to second spot in terms of threats to America. The new number one threat? Great-power competition from Russia and China. Since then, the U.S. has increased its military commitment to Europe. It is resurrecting its navy fleet in the North Atlantic, sending more tanks and heavy vehicles to Poland and the Baltics, and building new infrastructure in Europe to support advanced fighters and bombers. Beneath the virulent rhetoric, the military evidence is that the United States remains committed to European security.
Elinor Sloan, professor of international relations in the department of political science at Carleton University, is a fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.