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NATO Allies Prepare to Push Back at Trump (but Not Too Much)

Category: Diplomatic Relations,Politics

Robin Niblett, director of Chatham House, said that the Europeans should respond by telling Mr. Trump that “NATO is a success story, with increased military spending across the board and two new commands.”

But another fear, he and others said, is that Mr. Trump will seek to bargain — “to conflate trade and security,” as he has already done with South Korea and Japan. Europeans cannot accept making collective security transactional or dependent on actions on tariffs or specific spending targets in a relationship that is mutually beneficial, Mr. Niblett said.

“It can feel like a protection racket, trading security for economic return,” he said, especially as “he then goes off to see Putin.”

That meeting worries NATO allies, because Mr. Putin is expected to flatter Mr. Trump and play on the American president’s notion of himself as a great negotiator in face-to-face meetings. They cite the Singapore summit with Mr. Kim, when Mr. Trump emerged to announce the cancellation of longstanding military exercises with South Korea — without consulting or informing either the South Korean government or the Pentagon.

They worry that Mr. Trump might unilaterally cancel planned NATO exercises, in particular Trident Juncture, a large one planned for late October, and Anakonda, for November, to practice the defense of Poland.

They worry he will even announce the withdrawal of some American troops from Germany, though Congress would have something to say about that. They fear he will abandon sanctions on Russia over Crimea and eastern Ukraine. And bizarrely enough, they express hope that Mr. Trump’s hard-line national security adviser, John R. Bolton, will restrain him from rash acts.

“Putin wants to deepen the schism between NATO, Europe and America,” Mr. Niblett said. Mr. Trump’s world is one of interests, no allies, with Europe a competitor and “NATO worse than Nafta,” as Mr. Trump has averred, referring to the North American Free Trade Agreement. That world fits Mr. Putin’s aims.

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