What to expect from Biden’s first NATO summit as US president | NATO news


On Monday, 30 leaders and heads of state will gather to hold a NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium, the headquarters of the 1949 security alliance.

At Joe Biden’s first NATO summit as president of the United States, he will be anxious to reassure his allies that “America is back” after four tumultuous years of former US President Donald Trump, who declare NATO “obsolete,” which it called member countries “deadbeats,” and at first refused to explicitly endorse NATO’s principle of mutual defense.

A new “2030 Strategic Concept” is expected to be launched describing how the alliance plans to meet the various challenges it now faces.

NATO’s current strategic concept dates back to 2010, but “it wasn’t taken as seriously as it needed the prospects of Russian aggression, and it barely mentioned China,” said James Goldgeier, a professor of international relations at the University. American and former director of Russia, Ukrainian and Eurasian Affairs of the staff of the National Security Council.

French President Emmanuel Macron expressed the need to reflect the changing security landscape, with his 2019 criticisms that the alliance was “brain dead” and no longer fit for purpose.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg will propose a broader focus on issues such as cyber warfare, China, Russia, strategic competition with authoritarian states and the effects of climate change on international security, according to experts.

Here are five things to know:


One of the most pressing issues on the agenda is how NATO will ensure the stability of Afghanistan as it completes its operations in the region.

U.S. troops and their NATO allies will withdraw their 9,600-man mission before the September 11 Biden deadline, after nearly two decades of conflict in the region.

Critics, including former U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, warn that there is a risk that the Taliban may regain control.

According to the UN Security Council, the al-Qaeda network, which provided the American justification for the invasion of Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks, still has between 400 and 600 members fighting the Taliban.

In an April interview with CNN, al-Qaeda agents said that “the war against the US will continue on all other fronts unless they are expelled from the rest of the Islamic world.”

NATO plans to provide continued financial support to Afghan security forces. But questions remain about whether the Allies will commit millions (perhaps billions) of dollars to provide serious equipment and training programs in Afghanistan.

U.S. military officials have also debated building bases in neighboring countries so they can return to Afghanistan if al-Qaeda or ISIL threats arise.

In the United States they would like to operate in Pakistan, but given Islamabad’s often strained relationship with Washington, Biden is unlikely to be in the case.

The Pentagon would also favor the return to the bases of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, he adds, a measure that would require the blessing of China and Russia.

“This will be much harder than it was ten years ago,” he says, as relations between the U.S. and these two powers have worsened.


Leaders will also discuss strengthening NATO’s collective defense, with a focus on “an increasingly aggressive Russia,” says Kristine Berzina, a senior member of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

Last year, Russia sent a total of 150,000 troops to its border with Ukraine in what Stoltenberg called “the largest massification of Russian troops” since the annexation of Moscow on the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in 2014, which prompted NATO to warn Russia that “renewed” aggression ”would have consequences.

The rift between Western governments and Russia has also been compounded by the near-deadly poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny last August, which many have blamed on Moscow, a claim it denies.

At the summit, the U.S. will likely be asked if they are prepared to entrust more troops and tanks to Europe, position more equipment in Europe and put more air defense on the continent, says Jamie Shea, a senior member of Brussels. -Tank Friends of Europe and former member of NATO.

“Countries like Romania, Bulgaria, would definitely want a stronger American defense in the region.”


In a recent speech, Stoltenberg noted that Beijing is not seen by NATO as an adversary, but that China’s rise has direct implications for the security of the transatlantic alliance.

“China is not perceived as a threat per se, but as something that could turn in the opposite direction,” Berzina says.

NATO allies have condemned China’s human rights abuses, including its crackdown on dissidents in Hong Kong and the internment of more than a million members of the predominantly Muslim Uighur population in the northern region. west of Xinjiang.

Other concerns in NATO are China’s threats to invade Taiwan, Beijing’s growing militarization, and its focus on the Indo-Pacific region, which Dr. Kathleen Hicks, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense, has described each time. more “coercive and aggressive”.

Berzina says that under Trump, there was “a certain desire in Europe to maintain the equidistance between the two great powers and not to be absorbed by the American conflict, especially when relations with the United States were as poor as they were.” .

While Berzina says there is still more “drag” in Europe on the China issue than the United States would like, Shea expects more alignment in Beijing.

“Europe has woken up to China’s challenge,” he says.

In March, the EU sanctioned Chinese officials for the first time in 30 years over the Uyghur issue.

France, Germany and the United Kingdom have recently sent warships to the Indo-Pacific region, which shows that Europe has a “participation in a free and open Indo-Pacific,” says Rafael Loss, coordinator of Pan-European Data Projects at European Council on External Relations.

“NATO can seek closer cooperation with partners such as Australia, India, Japan and South Korea. It should also think hard about how it can help protect democracy in Taiwan,” says Loss.

Defense expenses

NATO members will decide whether to increase the organization’s common budget for more joint capabilities, such as stronger training, exercises, and cyber defense.

Stoltenberg has called on the Allies to “invest more” and “better” and has proposed that they collectively contribute $ 20 billion in shared budgets over the next 10 years.

Currently, the common pot is equivalent to 0.3 percent of total spending on Allied defense, or about $ 2.5 billion.

French officials have been opposed to the candidacy to raise common funding.

French Defense Minister Florence Parly told Politico this month: “All this money is money that will not be used to increase national budgets and a European defense effort that benefits NATO. And to do what? No one I can tell you. “

Berzina predicts spending will be a concern for some NATO members: “There have always been leaders and laggards in spending. There will be commitments, but I think it will be a challenge, especially in the COVID-19 economic landscape.” .

And then the EU summit

A day later, on Tuesday, Biden and leading EU figures will hold a summit in Brussels.

Experts said tariffs and trade related to aircraft and metals are a key issue, as is how to apply a new minimum corporate tax rate under a historic agreement reached on June 5 by the group of seven finance ministers.

Other issues include data transfer, pandemic recovery, climate policy and carbon pricing systems.

While Europe is eager to welcome Biden to the region, the previous administration has shown how quickly Washington’s priorities can change.

European leaders are still unsure of how Biden’s “foreign policy for the middle class” strategy differs from Trump’s “America first” agenda, Goldgeier says.

“This will be a critical issue for Europe.”

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