Europe’s NATO problem

With U.S. President Donald Trump raising previously unthinkable doubts about America’s willingness to defend its traditional NATO allies, some European leaders, officials and military experts insist the Continent must do more to defend itself.

“The EU for decades has profited from the protection the U.S. has provided,” Wolfgang Ischinger, a former German ambassador to Washington who is the chairman of the Munich Security Conference, said in an interview last weekend with the Funke media group. “Today, this protection is not a certainty anymore.”

Proposals for more robust European defense range from a series of Brussels-based initiatives on procurement, training, and research and development, to the extension of France’s nuclear umbrella, to the development of a full-blown EU army, as endorsed recently by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Paradoxically, perhaps, the biggest obstacle to the boldest of these proposals might be NATO — the very alliance that has safeguarded the Continent since the end of World War II.

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