On 18 August, the APPGs on Global Security and Non-Proliferation held a meeting to discuss the future of the transatlantic alliance after the NATO and Helsinki Summits
At the meeting, Assistant Deputy-General, RUSI, Prof Malcolm Chalmers discussed European agreement to increase defence spending following the NATO Summit. He highlighted that many European states have increased defence spending their defence spending significantly. Nevertheless, Prof Chalmers warned that it is unlikely that the majority of NATO members will meet the 2% target by 2020. For example, Germany has only pledged to reach 1.4% by 2024 – which still represents a significant 34% increase on current levels. He noted that NATO’s commitment to increased defence spending contrasted which Russia’s decreasing spending which peaked in 2015 and has affected Russian military modernisation.
On the wider impact Trump’s tour of Europe, Prof Chalmers warned that it was ‘worse that it seems’ as Trump’s behaviour reflects an ideology different to any other President, one that rejects multilateralism and embraces economic nationalism. He noted with concern Trump’s willingness to define the EU as a ‘foe’ and talk about NordSteam in terms of economic competition, blurring the lines between how the US views economic and security rivalry. He concluded saying that a reset with Russia was unlikely given the politicisation of US-Russia relations in US domestic politics, but that it was difficult to imagine further Russian military adventurism akin to Crimea in today’s political climate.
Deputy Deputy-General, IISS, Dr Kori Schake continued on many of the same themes. She highlighted that despite the apparent disparity between US and European defence spending, only 5% of US defence spending ($30 billion) is spent on Europe. On the impact of Trump’s European tour, Dr Schake stressed that Trump’s foreign policy did not recognise the importance of shared values, alliance relationships and multilateral institutions. She noted with concern that his questioning of Montenegro’s place in the Alliance could lead Russia to doubt the sincerity of the US’ Article V commitment, highlighting the danger of rhetoric to the Alliance and European security. She urged parliamentarians to think constructively about ways to defend the Alliance and liberal international order.
The speeches were followed with a wide and varied conversation on the future of transatlantic relations, covering themes including nuclear deterrence, arms control, Article V and domestic US criticism of President Trump’s visit. The meeting concluded with members noting that notwithstanding Trump’s rhetoric many allies had been reassured by the language of the 2018 Brussels Communiqué.