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July 5, 2018
US President Donald J. Trump sent ripples through the transatlantic community after sending letters to NATO allies demanding that they spend more on their own defense. Trump’s stance appears to stem from the belief—shared by many in the United States—that European allies have long taken advantage of American military protection without making a fair contribution to common security. This view rests on the assumption that the United States is paying for European defense and receiving nothing in return.

As the Atlantic Council’s Magnus Nordenman and the Center for Transatlantic Relations’ Hans Binnendijk write in their issue brief, NATO’s Value to the United States: By the Numbers, however, this is far from the case. Here is what they listed as the key benefits the United States gets from NATO:

NATO promotes peace within Europe and deters major US adversaries from launching large-scale conventional wars.


NATO is a force multiplier that gives the United States access to military tools in greater numbers than it can achieve by itself.



NATO undertakes numerous missions to protect member states and promote security around the globe.


NATO supports and protects the economies of Europe, which are critical to the health of the US economy.


To read more about these points in detail, see the full report from Hans Binnendijk and Magnus Nordenman here: http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/publications/issue-briefs/nato-s-value-to-the-united-states-by-the-numbers.

David A. Wemer is assistant director, editorial, at the Atlantic Council. You can follow him on Twitter @DavidAWemer.

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