Brookings-Robert Bosch Foundation Transatlantic Initiative
There’s a mood in Congress that has been growing in the last few months to do something punitive towards Turkey. That’s going to escalate now [following a Turkish court order to continue the detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson].
We know what Mr. Putin hopes to get out of the summit: an outcome that further weakens Western democracies while deepening the fissures in NATO, the disintegration of the “political West,” and the ongoing abnegation of America’s historic role as the leader of the Atlantic community and the liberal world order. We can surmise how Mr. Putin will pursue that overarching goal: with flattery and the siren song of a partnership between the two superpowers now led by strong champions of making their countries “great again,” while continuing his expansionist policies and cyberwar against democracy. If he succeeds, the encounter could be the low point of Western diplomacy since Munich.
NATO always had a good story to tell at this summit, with the communiqué reflecting a robust and resilient alliance that is making real progress on a range of challenges. Trump’s belligerent tweets and taunts unfortunately overshadowed what should have been a straightforward message of success... [While pushing for more defense spending is good, allies are not like business partners]. You can’t lambaste Germany one day and then ask them for something else the next. Actions and rhetoric have consequences. Blowing up summits and projecting disunity doesn’t help credibility.
Yes, Europeans (and Germans) need to bear a much greater share of their own defense... Yes, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline undermines trust between Germany and its Eastern European neighbors. Yes, saving on defense budgets over decades has weakened European defense and enabled Europeans to shore up their welfare systems... On all these things, Trump is right... Trump is also right that the West, and Europe in particular, today faces real challengers, spoilers, and adversaries. Yet where Trump is monumentally, tragically wrong—and where Europe cannot and must not follow him—is in his open contempt for representative democracy, republican constitutions, open societies, and a rules-based international order, and his admiration for autocrats and dictators. This, not defense spending or pipelines, is the new fault line in the alliance today, and the greatest in its history.