Daniel S. Hamilton, Whiplash: Donald Trump and NATO in:

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S+F, Volume 38 (2020), Issue 2, ISSN: 0175-274X, ISSN online: 0175-274x, https://doi.org/10.5771/0175-274X-2020-2-65

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S+F (38� Jg�) 2/2020 | 65 Hamilton, Whiplash: Donald Trump and NATO | T H E M E N S C H W E R P U N K T DOI: 10�5771/0175-274X-2020-2-65 1. Introduction Seventy years after its founding, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) retains its three-fold purpose: to provide for the collective defense of its members; to institutionalize the transatlantic link and serve as a preeminent forum for allied deliberations on security and strategy; and to offer an umbrella of reassurance under which European NATO nations can focus their security concerns on common challenges rather than on each other. There is a symbiotic relationship among these functions; allies are unlikely to be successful in any one without attention to the remaining two. Today, each of these elements is under assault. Allies have stepped up their military efforts to address common dangers, but downgraded NATO as a political forum. Mutual reassurance has given way to anxieties and doubts. NATO has weathered such challenges in the past; what is truly novel this time, however, is that the Alliance’s coherence and relevance has been questioned by the President of the United States, the putative leader of the Alliance. During the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, Republican candidate Donald Trump cast aside seven decades of strong U.S. support for NATO by declaring the Alliance “obsolete” and was vague when asked whether, as President, he would stand by the U.S. commitment to the mutual defense provisions of the North Atlantic Treaty. Since taking office he has continued to complain about unfair NATO burden-sharing, threatened to condition U.S. support for other allies on the level of their Herausgeber/-innen Prof� Dr� Ursula Schröder, Institut für Friedensforschung und Sicherheitspolitik an der Universität Hamburg (IFSH) Prof� Dr� Volker Franke, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Georgia (USA) Prof� Dr� Hans J.Giessmann, Director Emeritus, Berghof Foundation, Berlin Dr� Sabine Jaberg, Führungsakademie der Bundeswehr, Hamburg Dr� Patricia Schneider, IFSH Schriftleitung Prof� Dr� Ursula Schröder Redaktion Dr. Patricia Schneider (V�i�S�d�P�), IFSH Susanne Bund FKpt Prof. Frank Reininghaus Dr. Sybille Reinke de Buitrago ORR Dr. iur. Tim René Salomon LLM. (Glasgow) Beirat Dr� Detlef Bald, München Prof� Dr� Susanne Buckley- Zistel, Universität Marburg Prof� Dr� Sven Chojnacki, FU Berlin Alain Deletroz, Vizepräsident International Crisis Group Dr� Véronique Dudouet, Berghof Foundation, Berlin Prof� Dr� Pál Dunay, George C� Marshall European Center for Security Studies Prof� Dr� Heinz Gärtner, Universität Wien Prof� Dr� Laurent Götschel, Universität Basel Prof� Andrea de Guttry, Scuola Sant’Anna, Pisa PD Dr� Hans-Joachim Heintze, Ruhr-Universität Bochum Heinz-Dieter Jopp, KptzS a�D� ehem� FüAkBw, Hamburg Prof� Dr� Heinz-Gerhard Justenhoven, IThF, Hamburg Dr� Jocelyn Mawdsley, Newcastle University Dr� Anja Seibert-Fohr, MPI Heidelberg Dr� Marianne Wade, University of Birmingham PD Dr� Ines-Jacqueline Werkner, FEST, Heidelberg T H E M E N S C H W E R P U N K T S+F Sicherheit und FriedenSecurity and Peace 202038� JahrgangS� 65–1222 Whiplash: Donald Trump and NATO Daniel S� Hamilton Abstract: U.S. President Donald Trump has flip-flopped on NATO’s relevance, harangued allies about unfair burden-sharing, and threatened to condition U.S. support for other allies based on their level of defense spending. Trump’s erratic approaches to Russia, Ukraine, nuclear arms control, and the Middle East have further exacerbated allied anxieties. Militarily, the Trump administration has strengthened and extended U.S. commitments to NATO. Politically, the Alliance is in sad shape. The deeper challenge for Europe, however, is not U.S. abandonment, it is that the United States is drifting from being a European power to a power in Europe. Keywords: Trump, NATO, Russia, Germany, China, Deterrence, United States Schlagwörter: Trump, NATO, Russland, Deutschland, China, Abschreckung, Vereinigte Staaten T H E M E N S C H W E R P U N K T  | Hamilton, Whiplash: Donald Trump and NATO 66 | S+F (38� Jg�) 2/2020 Accompanying this view was the general perception that challenges to transatlantic security emanated far from European shores. When NATO allies invoked the Alliance’s mutual defense clause for the first time in 2001, they did so to support the United States against terrorist attacks that had been directed from Afghanistan. Allies then joined the United States in counter-terrorism military operations in that country, and led a major training mission in Iraq. As the Russian threat and instabilities in Europe seemed to fade, and as tensions flared across the Middle East, attention turned away from the security challenges of the European continent. That all changed in 2014 following Russia’s illegitimate and illegal annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea and its military intervention in support of separatist forces in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas. The Alliance returned to its “in-area” vocation, giving priority to deterrence and defense in Europe, even as it continued “out-of-area” activities in Afghanistan and Iraq. Efforts to adapt the Alliance to these multiple challenges were advanced at a 2014 summit in Wales and a 2016 summit in Warsaw. Allies adopted a strong unified position against Russia’s aggression, deployed forces to NATO’s eastern members, and bolstered the Alliance’s ability to project force at distance through a beefed-up NATO Response Force. They implemented a “360 degree” response in both deterrence and defense that addressed threats emanating from the South as well. They agreed to “move towards” spending 2% of their GDP and at least 20% of annual defense expenditure on major new equipment, including related research and development, by 2024. In parallel, the Obama administration made a significant decision to bolster the U.S. military presence in Europe through a “European Reassurance Initiative.” It initially allocated an additional $782 million in fiscal year 2015, and then quadrupled the funding to $3.4 billion annually. After taking office in January 2017, President Trump roiled the Alliance with pronouncements questioning NATO’s relevance and America’s continued commitment. Intra-Alliance tensions were the headline story at NATO summits in Brussels in May 2017 and July 2018, and at a meeting of Alliance leaders in London in December 2019 to commemorate NATO’s 70th anniversary. At the first two summits, Trump berated allies about their “chronic underpayments” to the Alliance. At the 2017 summit Trump also stunned his allies and his own closest advisers when, at the last moment, he personally deleted from his prepared remarks a sentence reaffirming the U.S. commitment to mutual defense of the Alliance’s members. At the 2018 summit, he told leaders that if they did not meet their 2% pledge by January 2019, the United States would go it alone.4 4 Susan B. Glasser, “Trump National Security Team Blindsided by NATO Speech,” Politico, June 5, 2017, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/06/05/trump-natospeech-national-security-team-215227; David M. Herszenhorn and Lili Bayer, “Trump’s whiplash NATO summit,” Politico, July 12, 2018, https://www.politico.eu/article/trump-threatens-to-pull-out-of-nato/; Helene Cooper and Julian Barnes, “U.S. Officials Scrambled Behind the Scenes to Shield NATO Deal From Trump,” New York Times, August 9, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/09/us/politics/nato-summittrump.html. defense spending, and reportedly has considered whether the United States should withdraw from NATO.1  Trump’s diffidence has so roiled the Alliance that by late 2019 an exasperated French President Emmanuel Macron declared NATO to be “brain dead.”2 Sharp rebukes from Trump and other allied leaders exposed the deep rifts that had opened among allied leaders, not just on NATO-specific issues but on a broad range of topics. These tensions threaten to unravel the transatlantic fabric of which NATO is a part, including trade squabbles, disputes over climate change, and differences over how best to deal with terrorism, the Middle East, Iran, and China. This is all taking place against a backdrop of deeper changes, many of which predated Trump, that could transform the U.S. role in Europe from that of comprehensive actor to a partial player; in other words, from a European power to a power in Europe. 2. NATO’s Post-Cold War Transformation When the Cold War ended 30 years ago, a new paradigm took hold across much of Europe. That paradigm was premised on the assumption that the continent’s divisions would be overcome by a magnetic, largely unchallenged and gradually expanding Western-led order. In that order eastern Europe and eventually Russia could potentially find a place, the United States would continue as an affirmative European power. Military tensions and military forces would be reduced, and growing interdependencies would lower conflict and generate greater security and prosperity. Much was achieved during this period. A Euro-Atlantic architecture of cooperative, overlapping and interlocking institutions enabled a host of countries to walk through the doors of NATO, the European Union (EU), the Council of Europe, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and other organizations in ways that were not at the expense of other states or institutions. NATO forged new partnerships with Russia and a range of other countries, and ended ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. Europe was not fully whole, but it was no longer divided. It was not fully free, but vast parts of the continent were no longer under the thumb of domestic autocrats or foreign overseers. It was not fully at peace, but it was more secure than at any time in the previous century.3 1 Ashley Parker, “Donald Trump Says NATO Is ‘Obsolete’, UN Is ‘Political Game’,” New York Times, April 2, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/politics/ first-draft/2016/04/02/donald-trump-tells-crowd-hed-be-fine-if-NATObroke-up/; David E. Sanger and Maggie Haberman, “Donald Trump Sets Conditions for Defending NATO Allies against Attack,” New York Times, July 20, 2016. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/21/us/politics/donaldtrump-issues.html; Julian E. Barnes and Helene Cooper, “Trump Discussed Pulling U.S. from NATO, Aides Say amid New Concerns over Russia,” New York Times, January 14, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/14/us/ politics/NATO-president-trump.html. 2 “Emmanuel Macron warns Europe: NATO is becoming ‘brain dead’,” The Economist, November 7, 2019, https://www.economist. com/europe/2019/11/07/emmanuel-macron-warns-europe-nato-isbecoming-brain-dead. 3 See Daniel S. Hamilton, “Europe: Whole and Free or Fractured and Anxious?” in Sławomir Dębski and Daniel S. Hamilton, Europe Whole and Free: Vision and Reality (Washington/Warsaw: Transatlantic Leadership Network/Polish Institute of International Relations, 2019), https://transatlanticrelations.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/ Hamilton.pdf. S+F (38� Jg�) 2/2020 | 67 Hamilton, Whiplash: Donald Trump and NATO | T H E M E N S C H W E R P U N K T issues.8 Faced with major changes in Ankara’s ambitions, the Trump administration has shown little interest or ability to influence Turkish actions. 3. Shifting Burdens Rhetorical flashes of Presidential pique diverted attention from the fact that in its first two years the Trump administration actually extended, rather than reduced, its engagement in and through the Alliance. NATO’s Readiness Initiative “4-30,” which was proposed by the Trump administration, will lead in 2020 to 30 maneuver battalions, 30 air squadrons and 30 warships, with enabling forces, at 30 days’ readiness or less. Allies are implementing a Joint Air Power Strategy, have adopted a NATO space policy, and have enhanced their naval presence in the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean, Baltic and Black Seas. A new Joint Force Command in Norfolk, Virginia (JFC-NF) has been established to ensure safe sea lines of communication (SLOCs) between North America and Europe. The U.S. Navy’s Second Fleet in the Atlantic was reactivated.9 In addition, even though Donald Trump labels the EU a “foe,” NATO and the EU are cooperating on more than 70 projects to enhance mobility, counter hybrid threats, and build the defense capacity of many partners.10 Moreover, despite Trump’s statements questioning the extent of U.S. commitments in Europe, he acquiesced in extending U.S. obligations to two more countries, Montenegro and North Macedonia. Each country’s accession to NATO enjoyed overwhelming bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate, which must ratify any changes that would include new countries in the provisions of the North Atlantic Treaty.11 These actions have all been diminished, and others reversed, by Trump’s erratic actions. Initially, under prodding from the U.S. Congress, the Trump Administration actually tripled funding for the Obama-era “European Reassurance Initiative,” renaming it the “European Deterrence Initiative.” In 2019, however, Trump raided this fund to pay for a wall along the southern U.S. border after Congress refused to allocate those monies. The administration plans to cut the fund further by one-fourth in the 2021 fiscal year budget.12 In summer 8 Escalating tensions between Ankara and Moscow have raised the prospect that NATO allies could be called to defend Turkey, a decision they would prefer to avoid. Reuters, “Turkey cannot go back on NATO Poland-Baltics plan: Polish official,” December 9, 2019, https://www. reuters.com/article/us-nato-summit-turkey-poland/turkey-cannot-goback-on-nato-poland-baltics-plan-polish-official-idUSKBN1YD216; Bethan McKernan in Istanbul and Dan Sabbagh, “Nato expresses ‘full solidarity’ with Turkey over Syria airstrikes,” The Guardian, February 29, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/28/nato-turkeysyria-airstrikes-russia-un-jens-stoltenberg; Candace Rondeaux, “NATO Is in Denial About the Risk of War Between Turkey and Russia,” World Politics Review, March 6, 2020, https://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/ articles/28583/for-nato-turkey-russia-war-is-a-nightmare-scenario. 9 See Jonathan Marcus, “US Navy resurrects Second Fleet in Atlantic to counter Russia,” BBC News, 5 May, 2018, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-44014761. 10 Heinrich Brauss, “NATO at 70: Alliance readiness,” European Leadership Network, March 11, 2019, https://www.europeanleadershipnetwork. org/commentary/nato-at-70-alliance-readiness/. 11 The Senate voted 97-2 on March 28, 2017 to ratify Montenegro’s accession to the Alliance and voted 91-2 on October 22, 2019 to ratify North Macedonia’s accession to NATO. Trump assented each time. 12 Paul Belkin and Hibbah Kaileh, “The European Deterrence Initiative: A Budgetary Overview,” Congressional Research Service, June 16, 2020, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/IF10946.pdf. Officials were so concerned about these rifts that that they downgraded NATO’s 70th anniversary event to a 3 1/2-hour “leaders meeting” in London in December 2019. Nonetheless, the Alliance’s 70th birthday was again overshadowed by political drama. A frustrated Macron declared that there was “no coordination whatsoever of strategic decision-making between the United States and its NATO allies. None.” Surprisingly, Trump responded by defending the Alliance: “NATO serves a great purpose…We have a very powerful NATO; much stronger than it was two days ago…Now the United States is being treated fairly. I believe in NATO. NATO is now a fine-tuned machine.” However, he again refused to say whether the United States would come to the defense of allies that were “delinquent” in their defense spending.5 Allied uncertainty about Trump’s commitment to the Alliance has extended to disquiet about other erratic Trump administration policies. First, even though his administration has done much to bolster deterrence against Moscow, the President has adopted a strangely conciliatory stance towards authoritarian leader Vladimir Putin. His efforts to tie delivery of assistance to Kyiv to Ukrainian pledges to investigate former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and his son confused allies, cast a shadow over future U.S. support for Ukraine, and ultimately resulted in his impeachment by the U.S. House of Representatives (and acquittal by the U.S. Senate) (discussed by Hopmann in this issue).6 Allied anxieties have been further heightened by the eroding architecture of nuclear security, as the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and the Open Skies Treaty, which was signed in 1992 and entered into force in 2002, have crumbled and the danger of accidents or miscalculation involving Russian and NATO forces has risen. Further, Trump has surprised allies as he has blown hot and cold on U.S. commitments in the broader Middle East.7 Uncertainty over U.S. policy goals in the region have been further compounded by Turkey’s emergence as an intra-Alliance spoiler due to its acquisition of Russia’s S-400 anti-missile system, political gamesmanship regarding refugee flows into Europe, tensions with other NATO allies over Libya and energy fields in the Mediterranean, its continued block of deeper NATO-EU cooperation, and its efforts to veto NATO Baltic defense plans as a way to extract allied concessions on Kurdish 5 “Nato summit: Trump blasts Macron ‘brain dead’ comments as ‘nasty’,” BBC, December 3, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/worldeurope-50641403; Jonathan Chait, “Macron Uses Toddler Reverse Psychology Trick to Fool Trump Into Supporting NATO,” New York Magazine, December 3, 2019; Bob Fredericks, “Donald Trump won’t commit to defending ‘delinquent’ NATO allies,” New York Post, December 3, 2019, https://nypost.com/2019/12/03/donald-trump-wont-committo-defending-delinquent-nato-allies/. 6 Julian E. Barnes and Matthew Rosenberg, “Trump’s Efforts to Hide Details of Putin Talks May Set Up Fight With Congress,” New York Times, January 13, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/13/us/ politics/trump-putin-russia-meetings.html. 7 After calling the Alliance “obsolete,” Trump urged NATO to become more involved in the Middle East, largely as a means for the United States to extract itself from “endless wars” in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. “I think that NATO should be expanded, and we should include the Middle East…And we can come home, or largely come home and use NATO.” Donald Trump, cited in Julian E. Barnes and Eric Schmitt, “Trump Orders Withdrawal of U.S. Troops From Northern Syria,” New York Times, October 13, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/13/us/ politics/mark-esper-syria-kurds-turkey.html; Caitlin Oprysko, “‘NATO plus ME’: Trump proposes NATO expansion into Middle East,” Politico, January 9, 2020, https://www.politico.eu/article/nato-plus-me-donaldtrump-proposes-nato-expansion-into-middle-east/. T H E M E N S C H W E R P U N K T  | Hamilton, Whiplash: Donald Trump and NATO 68 | S+F (38� Jg�) 2/2020 The 2% goal has become an important political metric of allied commitment, and there is good reason for allies to invest again in their security following decades of neglect. Yet in many ways the 2% benchmark is an arbitrary measure. It is not tied to any element of Alliance strategy. Spending more is not the same as spending well. Spending levels alone tell us nothing about whether allies are investing in the kind of capabilities they need to deter, defend, manage crises and enhance cooperative security. It ties a static target (2%) to a moveable value (GDP). In addition, U.S. defense spending levels reflect Washington’s global military role and responsibilities, which are beyond NATO’s focus, although U.S. officials argue that those broader efforts also contribute to Europe’s security, for instance by maintaining freedom of navigation along waterways critical to Europe’s goods traffic with Asia and other world regions. 4. NATO and Great Power Competition Beyond better burden-sharing, the second clear priority of the Trump administration’s approach to NATO has been to frame Alliance relations within the context of “Great Power competition.” The U.S. National Security Strategy of 2017 and the National Defense Strategy of 2018 underscored a shift in U.S. emphasis away from a focus on fighting terrorism toward competition with Great Powers, with a focus on both Russia and China, but with priority attention given to China. All key elements of NATO adaptation, as decided at the NATO Summits in Wales 2014, Warsaw 2016 and Brussels 2018, were primarily focused on Russia and on enhanced threats emanating from the region to NATO’s south and southeast. Since entering office in January 2017, however, the Trump administration has been determined to make China an Alliance priority. Former U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis set forth the new agenda at his inaugural North Atlantic Council meeting in February 2017, when he linked the value of the transatlantic bond, among other things, to the ability of the allies to address “a more assertive China.” At the 2020 Munich Security Conference, Mattis’ successor, Mark Esper, told allies to “wake up” to the challenges presented by “China’s manipulation of the international, rules-based order.”18 The Trump administration’s efforts to make China a priority topic within NATO underscores basic differences in U.S. and European perspectives and interests. The United States views China within the full sweep of its global security, economic and political interests, including U.S. commitments throughout the Indo-Pacific region. Most European allies, in contrast, have tended to view China at most through an economic lens, but in general distant from more immediate concerns. These differences in perspective, in turn, are reflected in how each side perceives the relative costs and benefits of specific 18 US Mission to NATO, “February 15, 2017: Intervention by U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Session One of the North Atlantic Council,” https://nato.usmission.gov/february-15-2017-intervention-secretarydefense-mattis-session-one-north-atlantic-council/; U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper, “Remarks at the Munich Security Conference,” February 15, 2020, https://www.defense.gov/Newsroom/Speeches/ Speech/Article/2085577/remarks-by-secretary-of-defense-mark-t-esperat-the-munich-security-conference/. 2020 it then made a bombshell announcement – without consultation with Berlin – that it would be moving up to 12,000 troops from Germany to Belgium, Italy, Poland and the United States, moving the headquarters of U.S. European Command and Special Operations Command Europe from Germany to Belgium, and moving U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Special Operations Command Africa from Germany to a new location. Despite administration claims, the move was primarily driven by Trump’s goal to punish Germany for not contributing 2% of its GDP to defense. Commenting on the announcement, Trump said that Germany had been “taking advantage of us for many years…We don’t want to be the suckers anymore.” He added that he could “rethink” the plan “if they start paying their bills.”13 It is unclear whether these moves will actually take place. If they do, they will take years to execute, will cost billions, and will further erode the U.S. posture in NATO. NATO’s burden-sharing issue is nothing new; U.S. political leaders have raised the issue for decades. Since the end of the Cold War, however, the imbalance has become particularly acute. Even though European membership in NATO has doubled, total European defense spending plunged. By 2015, the U.S. share of allies’ overall defense expenditures had risen to over 70%.14 President Obama’s Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates already warned allies in 2011 of dwindling U.S. appetite “to expend increasingly precious funds on behalf of nations that are apparently unwilling to devote the necessary resources ... to be serious and capable partners in their own defense.”15 Trump has hammered the issue relentlessly. Allies have responded in three ways. First, they have raised their military spending by $130 billion since 2016, and are on track to raise spending by a cumulative $400 billion by 2024. Second, they have made their efforts more transparent and predictable by issuing individual annual reports that track their progress according to categories known as the “3 Cs”: cash, capabilities and commitments. Third, they have revised the relatively small budget covering common NATO funding so that Berlin and Washington each now contribute 16 percent.16 In terms of overall spending increases, however, Germany and some other allies have shown little progress. In 2020 Germany devoted 1.38% of its GDP to defense.17 The impact of the COVID-19 crisis on government spending throughout Europe is likely to dampen further the ability or willingness of European allies to meet the 2% goal, ensuring the issue will remain a flashpoint. 13 The White House, “Remarks by President Trump Before Marine One Departure,” July 29, 2020, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefingsstatements/remarks-president-trump-marine-one-departure-072920/. 14 Jan Techau, “The Politics of 2 Percent: NATO and the Security Vacuum in Europe,” Carnegie Europe, September 02, 2015, https://carnegieeurope. eu/2015/09/02/politics-of-2-percent-nato-and-security-vacuum-ineurope-pub-61139. 15 Michael Birnbaum, “Gates rebukes European allies in farewell speech, Washington Post, June 10, 2011, https://www.washingtonpost.com/ world/gates-rebukes-european-allies-in-farewell-speech/2011/06/10/ AG9tKeOH_story.html. 16 David M. Herszenhorn, “NATO spending tweak lets Berlin push back on Trump,” Politico, November 29, 2019, https://www.politico.eu/article/ nato-spending-tweak-lets-berlin-take-on-trump/. 17 “NATO spending rules need revising due to coronavirus, German defense chief says,” Deutsche Welle, https://www.dw.com/en/nato-spending-rules-need-revising-due-tocoronavirus-german-defense-chief-says/a-54214272. S+F (38� Jg�) 2/2020 | 69 Hamilton, Whiplash: Donald Trump and NATO | T H E M E N S C H W E R P U N K T superpower. Europe’s irritation with being dependent on Donald Trump is almost as great as its fear of being abandoned by him. Could the United States simply pull the plug on its NATO commitments? Not easily. Under Article 13 of the Washington Treaty, members of the Alliance may withdraw after a notification period of one year. This would give the U.S. Congress, where there is strong bipartisan support for NATO, time to block any effort by Trump to leave the Alliance. Anticipating this possibility, just days after the London Leaders’ meeting the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted unanimously to advance a bipartisan bill prohibiting the use of funds to terminate, suspend, or file notice of withdrawal for the United States from NATO. Later that month, these clarifications and prohibitions cleared the full U.S. Congress when it passed, and President Trump signed, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a massive defense spending bill for fiscal year 2020. NATO also remains popular with the American public. In 2018, 62% of those polled by the Ronald Reagan Institute expressed a favorable view of NATO; only 22% expressed an unfavorable view. In a 2019 Chicago Council on Global Affairs poll, 73% said they supported NATO. In a Pew Research Center/Körber Foundation poll issued in March 2020, six in ten Americans said the U.S. should use military force to defend a NATO ally in the event of a potential Russian attack.21 For all of these reasons, abandonment is not a likely scenario. Moreover, recent European rhetoric about ”strategic autonomy” has yet to be given any real substance, despite EU efforts to develop a more robust defense identity. In terms of ultimate security guarantees, NATO and the United States will remain indispensable for a long time to come. The more relevant challenge for Europe is not U.S. abandonment, it is a more nuanced shift in the U.S. approach to Europe that began before Donald Trump became President. Stated simply, the United States is drifting from being a European power to a power in Europe. That simple turn of phrase carries significant implications for transatlantic relations, European security, and the future of NATO. For 70 years, the United States has been a European power. It has been integral to the intra-European balances and coalitions that comprised both Cold War and post-Cold War Europe. It has been actively involved in all of the continent’s mechanisms and institutions, from NATO, the Partnership for Peace (PfP) and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to the U.S.-EU relationship, the OECD and the G7/G8. It cultivated bilateral and regional partnerships, from the Northern European 21 Ronald Reagan Institute, “Reagan National Defense Survey,” https:// www.reaganfoundation.org/media/355269/survey-summary-final.pdf; “Rejecting Retreat,” Chicago Council on Global Affairs, September 6, 2019, https://www.thechicagocouncil.org/publication/lcc/rejectingretreat; Jacob Poushter and Mara Mordecai, “Americans and Germans Differ in Their Views of Each Other and the World,” Pew Research Center/Körber Foundation, March 9, 2020, https://www.pewresearch. org/global/2020/03/09/americans-and-germans-differ-in-their-viewsof-each-other-and-the-world/. It is notable that in the same survey, six in ten Germans said that Germany should not use military force to defend a NATO ally under Russian attack. A number of other surveys taken in recent years reaffirm that German public opinion, not U.S. public opinion, is the more unreliable of all major NATO allies when it comes to support for the mutual defense clause of the Alliance. policies. The Trump administration believes the costs of a trade war with Beijing, of contesting Huawei’s dominance of 5G technologies, or of bolstering the U.S. military presence in the Indo-Pacific will be offset by the benefits of rolling back China’s challenge to its global interests (discussed by Janusch and Lorberg in this issue). It also believes such costs could be lowered if European allies bore a larger share of the defense burden in Europe. Most Europeans, in contrast, doubt that the costs of challenging China on such issues outweigh the benefits they believe they have derived from growing commercial ties, or that such issues should take priority over concerns closer to home. These differences in perspective have generated doubts within the Trump administration whether Europeans can lift their sights beyond their own neighborhood, and have raised anxieties among Europeans that Washington is paying less heed to their concerns even as it demands more from them in terms of assistance with challenges far from their region. These mutual doubts gnaw at the relationship like termites in the woodwork. They have made some allies wary about discussing China within the NATO format. Only in April 2019 did foreign ministers address the issue of China, when they initiated preparation of a confidential report, “Understanding China Better,” for the December 2019 NATO leaders in London. Contentious debates led to a final product that focused on political engagement rather than operational implications, and to a carefully crafted reference in the Leaders’ London Declaration: “We recognise that China’s growing influence and international policies present both opportunities and challenges that we need to address together as an Alliance.”19 The intra-Alliance debate about China is in its infancy. It places China in a context defined by societal resilience, critical infrastructure, the security of communications, and domains such as cyber and outer space.20 The Alliance has not defined China as a direct kinetic challenge, nor has it yet tied the China and Russia issues together. As China and Russia draw closer, however, the Alliance may be challenged to address the strategic implications that may result from such an association. A budding Russia-China alliance would render questionable most Alliance planning that has been focused on Russia as a singular challenge, or on dangers emanating from the south, some of which include a Russia dimension. Intra-allied differences over these issues, however, will make further NATO adaptation quite difficult. 5. The United States: From European Power to Power in Europe The Trump administration has not only shaken European assumptions about the steadiness and reliability of their major ally, it has exposed the painful reality of their continued dependence on what many fear to be an erratic and reckless 19 London Declaration Issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in London 3-4 December 2019, https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/official_ texts_171584.htm. 20 See Jens Ringsmose and Sten Rynning, “China Brought NATO Closer Together,” War on the Rocks, February 5, 2020, https://warontherocks. com/2020/02/china-brought-nato-closer-together/. T H E M E N S C H W E R P U N K T  | Hamilton, Whiplash: Donald Trump and NATO 70 | S+F (38� Jg�) 2/2020 America’s debate is more open-ended than Europeans realize. It is also more susceptible to influence than they may appreciate. In the end, when it comes to the future of NATO and the U.S. role in Europe, Europeans should look as much to themselves as to the antics of the man tweeting from the White House. Initiative to the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe, across the whole continent. It did so not just out of hegemonic impulse, but due to a number of fundamental understandings. One was that European order was a linchpin of world order. Europe’s security was not only important to U.S. interests, it was an urgent priority. Another realization was that Europe alone was still unable to deal with its own conflicts. The United States engaged as a European power because it realized that after two world wars in which Europeans destroyed their continent, it had to play a role as Europe’s pacifier. By aligning its security with its allies, it helped those allies build their security together, rather than against each other. NATO offered an umbrella under which the European experiment could flourish. When the Cold War ended, Americans were tempted to step back from Europe in the expectation that Europeans could address their security challenges with less need of U.S. support. Those hopes evaporated first in the 1990s, when Europe proved unable to contain the fire spreading from the Bosnian conflict; and again in 2008 and 2014, when Europeans again proved helpless in the face of Russian military intrusions in Georgia and then Ukraine. Once again, however, the United States is tempted to step back from Europe. Americans are debating anew how and where they should realign the means and ends of U.S. foreign and security policies to address a world of more diffuse power.22 In this context, it is simply hard for the average U.S. citizen to understand why 330 million Americans should be paying the lion’s share of defense for 500 million Europeans. Trump has tapped into this sentiment, but the temptation to retrench is both broader and deeper than Trump. This time, America is in real danger of drifting from being a European power to being a power in Europe. By that I mean a United States that would be selectively rather than comprehensively engaged in European affairs. It is a United States that would be focused as much on shedding and shifting burdens as sharing them, a power that would be part stakeholder and part spoiler. It would be less supportive of integration and more open to “disaggregation” by playing Europeans off against one another. It would be a power less intuitively convinced that Europe, while important, is also urgent, or that there is any particular link between the nature of European order and global order. That is not the America Europe needs. However, it could be the America Europe gets, unless Europeans and those Americans attentive to European affairs can again successfully affirm their shared and enduring interests. Those are a Europe hospitable to freedom, a Europe at peace with itself, a Europe not dominated or threatened by any power or constellation of powers hostile to the United States, a Europe that can be America’s counterpart, not its counterweight, in a world of common challenges. Those interests can be advanced best with an America that is a European power, not just a power in Europe. 22 Hamilton, op. cit. See also Philip H. Gordon and Jeremy Shapiro, “How Trump Killed the Atlantic Alliance And How the Next President Can Restore It,” Foreign Affairs, February 26, 2019, https://www.foreignaffairs. com/articles/2019-02-26/how-trump-killed-atlantic-alliance. Dr. Daniel S. Hamilton is the Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation Distinguished Fellow and Director of the Global Europe Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He is Senior Fellow at Johns Hopkins SAIS and in 2020 was Richard von Weizsäcker Fellow at the Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin. The President as Communicator-in-Chief Präsidentielle Rhetorik, amerikanischer Exzeptionalis mus und exekutiver Handlungsspielraum in der militärischen Interventionspolitik der USA während des Kosovo-, Irak- und Libyen-Krieges Von Dr. Lukas Darius Herr 2020, ca. 385 S., brosch., ca. 79,– € ISBN 978-3-8487-6753-3 (Neue Amerika-Studien, Bd. 9) Erscheint ca. Dezember 2020 eLibrary Nomos Exekutivdominanz amerikanischer Präsidenten in der Interventionspolitik www.nomos-elibrary.de Bestellen Sie jetzt unter www.nomos-shop.de Neue Amerika-Studien l 8 Nomos The President as Communicator-in-Chief Präsidentielle Rhetorik, amerikanischer Exzeptionalismus und exekutiver Handlungsspielraum während des Kosovo-, Irak- und Libyen-Krieges Lukas Darius Herr


U.S. President Donald Trump has flip-flopped on NATO’s relevance, harangued allies about unfair burden-sharing, and threatened to condition U.S. support for other allies based on their level of defense spending. Trump’s erratic approaches to Russia, Ukraine, nuclear arms control, and the Middle East have further exacerbated allied anxieties. Militarily, the Trump administration has strengthened and extended U.S. commitments to NATO. Politically, the Alliance is in sad shape. The deeper challenge for Europe, however, is not U.S. abandonment, it is that the United States is drifting from being a European power to a power in Europe.



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