For once, it seems like President Donald Trump isn’t interested in winning. Everything is in place for a great NATO summit — defense spending is up, deterrence in Eastern Europe is strong and a united alliance will set a firm tone for Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Everything seems set. Everything, of course, except that last part.
While Trump could use a successful NATO summit to hold Putin to account for his misdeeds in Ukraine and U.S. election interference, he appears more interested in seeking to improve relations with Russia, even if it’s at NATO’s expense.
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Greg Jaffe, Josh Dawsey, and Carol D. Leonnig / The Washington Post
US allies have two pressing fears regarding the NATO summit: President Trump will blow up the talks, and he will offer concessions to NATO’s main adversary, Vladimir Putin. “The allies’ worries and Moscow’s hopes are rooted in Trump’s combative approach to foreign policy,” Jaffe, Dawsey, and Leonnig write. Instead of relying on, “…the long history that undergirds America’s alliances or the collective foreign policy expertise of the US government,” Trump favors his instincts and ability to forge a personal bond with world leaders, including autocrats such as Putin.
The Economist projects three scenarios of how President Trump may act at the NATO summit, given his past comportment toward the alliance and its 29 members. “Although as president, Mr. Trump has affirmed his commitment to the alliance, some suspect his support is at best skin-deep,” the article states. There’s a possibility that the summit goes fine, but more likely, according to The Economist, the president will star at the summit as “berater-in-chief,” stemming from his belief that the allies are out to take advantage of the United States and are not carrying their weight in terms of economic support to NATO.
Jacob M. Schlesinger and Bojan Pancevski / The Wall Street Journal
Many Europeans fear a deep split in the postwar order as, “…no previous American president has so openly questioned the trans-Atlantic alliance’s value.” President Trump sent letters to European leaders in June warning them of his “growing frustration” with their military spending levels and his expectation that they redouble efforts when they next meet, according to Schlesinger and Pancevski. Trump’s plan to have a private sit-down meeting with Vladimir Putin, the alliance’s biggest foe, following the NATO summit, has further augmented the allies’ concerns.
Steven Erlanger and Katrin Bennhold / The New York Times
“The free movement of people has been central to how many Europeans want to see themselves: tolerant, open, and diverse,” Erlanger and Bennhold write, but according to Austria’s young chancellor, Sebastian Kurz: “A Europe without internal borders can only exist if it has functioning external borders.” In particular, Kurz wants to close off Europe’s southern perimeter, “…ramping up patrols in the Mediterranean and systematically returning migrant boats to the countries from where they embarked.” This idea, reinforced by other populist governments in Europe, not only raises moral and legal questions, it challenges the core values of the EU, according to Erlanger and Bennhold.
Nick Wadhams / Bloomberg
Despite talk of goodwill and President Trump’s repeated tweets of the bond he has formed with Kim Jong-un, Mike Pompeo’s difficult trip to Pyongyang last week reflects the reality of dealing with one the world’s most reclusive and unpredictable regimes. From the moment Pompeo landed in the North Korean capital, government officials quickly asserted control, Wadhams writes. The US Secretary of State was whisked off to a gated guesthouse on the outskirts of town and spent a good deal of his 30-hour sojourn held captive, figurately, by long, lavish banquets. The meeting with Kim Jong-un never occurred. While, as Wadhams reports, the specifics of what happened behind closed doors remain unclear, shortly after Pompeo left Pyongyang, the North Korean state media issued a statement calling the demands he presented “gangster-like.”
Kathy Gilsinan / The Atlantic
North Korean promises do not mean what President Trump seems to think they mean, Gilsinan writes, citing disagreement over perhaps the most important term in the US-North Korea denuclearization talks: denuclearization. From Trump’s perspective, the phrase, “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” means Kim Jong-un promises to give up nukes, while from Kim’s perspective, it ultimately means the withdrawal of US troops from South Korea and an end to the US-South Korea alliance. This reality gulf might help explain why US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo characterized his post-summit trip to Pyongyang last week as “productive,” while his North Korean counterpart called it “regrettable.”
Thomas L. Friedman / The New York Times
Friedman coins the term “complex adaptive coalitions” to describe the cities and communities in the industrial world that are thriving from the bottom up, in an age when political parties are fracturing from the top down. He uses Lancaster, Pennsylvania as an example. Just 20 years ago, the city seemed to be dying, but today it’s thriving, thanks, in large part, to a group of business leaders, educators, philanthropists, and social innovators who got together in their living rooms to become catalysts for change. Friedman believes that Lancaster’s success can be replicated in cities throughout the US and the world.