Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States, has a point about Europe and NATO. In May, in a speech at the alliance’s headquarters, in Brussels, he told his fellow leaders that “NATO members must finally contribute their fair share.” In July, he repeated the warning in Warsaw. “Europe must do more,” he said.
European leaders may find these demands grating, especially given Trump’s unpopularity among their constituents, but they should heed them. In recent years, Europe has become a dangerous place. In search of domestic support, Russian President Vladimir Putin has turned to aggression abroad, invading Ukraine and intervening in Syria. Since any one military adventure can provide only a temporary popularity boost, Putin will always need new victims. That makes him an ongoing threat. Just when NATO has once again become necessary for Europe’s security, however, Trump’s election has thrown the future of the U.S. role in the alliance into doubt.
MICHAEL MANDELBAUM is Christian A. Herter Professor Emeritus of American Foreign
Policy at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies and the
author of Mission Failure: America and the World in the Post–Cold War Era.
This article appeared in the Foreign Affairs 2017 September/October edition. It is republished here with permission.
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