16 May 2024

NATO Cannot Survive Without America

Hans Binnendijk, R. D. Hooker, Jr., and Alexander Vershbow

Last month, NATO, the world’s most successful military alliance, celebrated its 75th anniversary. Some fear that it may have been its last anniversary with the United States playing a leading role. Former U.S. President Donald Trump still views the alliance as obsolete. If reelected, he says he would encourage Russian leaders to do “whatever the hell they want” to member states that do not pay what he considers to be enough for defense. A second Trump presidency could have dire implications for European security.

Trump’s defenders argue that he is bluffing to pressure Europe into spending more on defense. But former U.S. officials who worked closely with Trump on NATO during his tenure, including one of us (Hooker), are convinced he will withdraw from the alliance if he is reelected. Trump hugely resents the more moderate advisers who kept him in check during his first term. If he reaches the White House in 2025, the guardrails will be off.

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