The ancient Greek writer Plato described Atlantis as a mythical archipelago that suddenly disappeared. Does the same fate lie ahead for the transatlantic alliance, approaching its 70th anniversary in April 2019? President Trump’s anti-NATO statements during the election campaign in 2016 and his rude, biased and provocative behaviour at the two NATO summits give the impression that the transatlantic bargain is quickly unravelling. Reactions from French and German political leaders stating that Europe must now take care of its own defence suggest the same. Or are we witnessing a battle of words – intended to speed up fairer transatlantic burden-sharing – rather than a break-up of the alliance? The doomsday scenario seems remote, at least judging by the facts. Today, there are more American troops in Europe than at the end of the Obama administration. While the White House is in chaos, the State Department and the Pentagon are anchors of stability with regard to NATO. The US signed up to a long list of decisions reinforcing the alliance at the Brussels Summit earlier this year.
Halfway through the Trump administration, is the glass half-full or half-empty? Will NATO survive this current crisis or is the alliance approaching retirement age? In his Policy Brief Dick Zandee assesses the current status of the transatlantic relationship and NATO’s future prospects. Clearly, issues such as trade, finances, climate and differing views on Iran or the Israeli-Palestinian question have a major impact on the security partnership between the US and Europe. The Policy Brief is not addressing these topics in detail but focusses primarily on the security and defence agendas.