NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on July 11 credited US President Donald J. Trump for pushing a “clear message” that allies need to invest more in their national defense, and argued that real increases in spending have been a direct result of this push.

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on July 11 delivered a resounding defense of NATO—the transatlantic military alliance that today grapples with external as well as internal challenges—and sought to address questions of burden sharing noting that it is the quality of the output rather than the quantity of the input that actually matters.

“A lot of people talk about the 2 percent,” said Trudeau, referencing the defense spending guideline agreed to by NATO members, “but announcing inputs isn’t nearly as important as demonstrating outputs,” he added.

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Interview with Daniel Fried, a distinguished senior fellow at the Atlantic Council

On the eve of the NATO Summit in Brussels on July 11 and 12, Daniel Fried, a distinguished senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Future Europe Initiative and Eurasia Center, laid out what he wants from the meeting: “I want to see [the United States] recommit to NATO because it works for us.”

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The seventh anniversary of South Sudan’s independence on July 11 is, at best, a bittersweet occasion. Seldom has a country come into being with such promise and good will. Dozens of heads of state, including Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, came to Juba to witness the birth of the world’s newest state. Messages poured in from leaders who could not make it, including US President Barack Obama, who granted South Sudan immediate diplomatic recognition, declaring: “Today is a reminder that after the darkness of war, the light of a new dawn is possible.”

Amid the celebratory choruses, I sounded a note of caution that day: “While the United States and other partners of South Sudan have helped to win freedom for the peoples of South Sudan, the challenge now is for them to consider what can be done to assure that political independence is not followed by state failure and/or conflict, but rather that there be a real chance for the improved human security and geopolitical stability, the promise of which justified the international community’s recognition of the breakup of a sovereign state in the first place.”

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A week Theresa May was dreading got a whole lot worse on July 9. The British prime minister is set to host US President Donald J. Trump on July 13, while also trying to save her government from collapse.

May’s recent troubles are due to the lasting divisions within her Conservative Party on the proper negotiating strategy to achieve the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union (EU). After May’s office released a report arguing that London would recognize EU product standards to maintain a “combined customs area,” the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and the Secretary for Exiting the European Union, David Davis, resigned in protest. It now appears that May will have to fend off a serious challenge to her leadership, all while preparing for what is sure to be a controversial visit by the American president.

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This week, Western leaders will gather at the NATO Summit in Brussels to discuss the most pressing issues of the day, likely including the construction of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline. The pipeline, owned by Russian energy giant Gazprom, would significantly increase Moscow’s capacity to export natural gas directly to Germany. Nord Stream 2 is too often mistakenly framed as primarily a German commercial issue or a Ukrainian transit problem, since the country will be bypassed by the new pipeline. Sometimes, even more misleadingly, it is portrayed as a rival to the United States’ liquefied natural gas (LNG) export ambitions to European markets.

But is this gas pipeline really that bad for Europe?

The short answer is an unequivocal yes. Here are the four main reasons why:

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The illusion that British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative government had come up with something resembling a workable Brexit plan after months of uncertainty over the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union (EU) lasted little more than two days.

On July 6, it appeared May had won support of her cabinet for some much-needed clarity on the British government’s Brexit approach. For a moment, even the most ardent Brexiteers seemed to fall in line with her softer Brexit plan. 

By July 9, that hint of clarity had been blown away by a rebellion within her cabinet.

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Interview with NATO’s James Appathurai

It's no secret people are nervous at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels, and not just with jitters that would be normal ahead of any major event with the eyes of the world upon it. With twenty-nine heads of state and government on their way to the Alliance’s sleek new headquarters, there are many variables, the most unpredictable being US President Donald J. Trump. The US leader continues his tirade against European under-spenders, who are angry over US trade policies. The Alliance is doing everything it can to avoid a category G7 catastrophe.

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At the NATO summit four years ago, the allies declared their commitment to “reverse the trend of declining defense budgets, to make the most effective use of our funds and to further a more balanced sharing of costs and responsibilities.” To that end, the heads of state and government gathered in Wales that summer recommitted themselves to increasing defense spending in real terms and achieving the NATO guideline to spend a minimum of 2 percent of each member’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on defense by 2024. In the buildup to this July's NATO summit in Brussels, US President Donald J. Trump is both publicly and privately pushing the allies to live up to this commitment, which fewer than half NATO’s twenty-nine members have plans to achieve.

But what about the United States: Does the United States spend at least 2 percent of its national wealth on its commitment to European allies?

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The United States’ complaint that few of its allies meet the 2 percent of GDP defense spending goal is likely to dominate the discourse at the NATO Summit in Brussels on July 11 and 12. While adequate burden sharing is important to maintain credible capabilities, this discussion will distract from what else is happening in the world and how potential adversaries and competitors are developing.

Even when given time, NATO summits typically focus on traditional deterrence, such as the forward deployment of troops and pre-positioning of equipment. While the importance of traditional deterrence cannot be understated, the development of untraditional deterrence is equally crucial. This includes the willingness, ability, and means to deploy cutting-edge technologies, chief among them artificial intelligence (AI).

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