The Atlantic

The Coming Split in NATO

Trump wants our European allies to build their military strength. What will it look like if they do?
Source: Benoit Tessier / Reuters

One of President Donald Trump’s chief complaints about America’s European allies is that they don’t spend nearly enough on defense; he has again raised the issue on Wednesday at the NATO summit. Granted, Trump is hardly the first American president to point to miserly military spending on the part of fellow NATO member states. This has been a sore spot in transatlantic relations since at least the 1970s. But the vociferousness of his complaints, and his transactional approach to alliances writ large, appears to have had an effect all the same. European powers are thinking harder about how to build their military strength and how they might use it in concert, even in—especially in—cases where the United States won’t be there to lend a hand.

In his seminal 2002 essay “,” Robert Kagan, the esteemed foreign-policy analyst, warned of

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