The Center for the National Interest convened a panel of foreign policy experts to answer this very question.
Already President Trump’s visit to Brussels for a NATO summit and the United Kingdom is engendering considerable controversy, with a further summit meeting on Monday with Russian leader Vladimir Putin to come in Helsinki. How successful is Trump’s course? Does NATO remain a vital component of American national security strategy? Or is it being downgraded by Trump?
To examine such pressing questions, the Center for the National Interest convened a panel of foreign policy experts speaking at a lunchtime panel on July 12. While there was broad agreement that NATO is vital to America’s national security interests, not all of the panelists believe that it was wise for the United States to have extended the alliance into Eastern and Central Europe and the former Soviet Union itself in the aftermath of the Cold War.
Indeed, to negotiate effectively with Russian president Vladimir Putin at the forthcoming Helsinki Summit on July 16, U.S. president Donald Trump will need to negotiate from a position of strength. To that end, the United States needs a strong NATO alliance behind it, Richard Burt, who served as ambassador to Germany and as an assistant secretary of state for Europe and Canada during the Reagan administration, said. A strong relationship with Germany—the “linchpin” of Europe—is especially important. “NATO is not an impediment to working with the Russians, it is a precondition,” Burt said.
“NATO is essential to U.S. national interests,” Dimitri Simes, president and CEO of the Center for the National Interest, said during the panel discussion in Washington D.C. “With all of its imperfections, NATO is a key component of American power. And to give up this component would be reckless especially if there is no overriding need.”