On October 29, the Atlantic Council hosted an off-the-record dinner conversation with Ambassador Douglas E. Lute, US Permanent Representative to NATO, and permanent representatives to NATO of seven European allies. The conversation also featured several Atlantic Council board directors, members of Congress, and other distinguished members of the transatlantic community.

The discussion addressed current challenges to the future of US leadership in light of recent turmoil in the Middle East, Europe’s uncertain economic recovery, and pivotal shifts in the global balance of power. The present moment is a defining one for the Alliance, as a confluence of political, diplomatic, and financial challenges test the strength of the transatlantic bond, and broader global security trends undermine the geopolitical importance of the North Atlantic arena.

With these challenges in mind, NATO is preparing for its upcoming 2014 summit, which presents an opportunity to define a new chapter in NATO’s history as the mission in Afghanistan draws to a conclusion. This dinner conversation came in the wake of the most recent NATO defense ministerial meeting, where NATO defense ministers took important steps to move forward on the Connected Forces Initiative and discussed strengthening collaboration with Russia. Despite this progress, the dinner conversation covered how the United States is witnessing a potentially weaker transatlantic partnership amidst the most recent NSA spying allegations and the tenuous fate of the TTIP negotiations.