Leaders from NATO member states convene on London for two-day summit

Leaders from NATO’s 29 member states gather in London today for a two-day summit that will mark the alliance’s 70th

nato summit london

Photo: John Thys/AFP

Leaders from NATO’s 29 member states gather in London today for a two-day summit that will mark the alliance’s 70th anniversary.

Tensions within the alliance are high following French President Emmanuel Macron’s declaration last month that the alliance is experiencing “brain death”. Macron has questioned the US commitment to NATO’s Article 5, which assures that an attack on one member constitutes an attack on all.

Those tensions may heighten further over the next two days, with Turkey seeking political support for its controversial Syrian incursion and the US expected to reiterate its demand that alliance members spend 2% of their GDP on defence—only nine currently meet the threshold.

There may also be disagreements over NATO’s primary threat. Washington wants the alliance to focus on countering China’s influence, Paris wants an emphasis on counter-terrorism operations, while eastern European members still perceive Russia to be their greatest threat.

It is unlikely that any of these issues will be resolved over the next two days. Such obvious sources of disagreement may encourage acts of brinkmanship—Russia will likely seek to exaggerate divisions by bolstering relations with Turkey, for example—but even an ambiguous commitment to Article 5 is deterrent enough to maintain the alliance’s viability.

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