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A More Powerful NATO Is Emerging

This might not be a good thing

When, in 2019, French President Emmanuel Macron warned NATO risked becoming “braindead,” objections were pro forma rather than passionate. President Donald Trump had just pulled American forces out of northern Syria without consulting the bloc, from which he had repeatedlythreatened to withdraw. Fellow NATO member Turkey invaded north-eastern Syria soon after, displacing hundreds of thousands. Speaking with The Economist, Macron expressed serious doubts that NATO’s Article 5—which declares that an attack on one member nation is an attack on all—still applied.

Fast forward a few years and the fate of Europe hinges on NATO more than any time since the fall of the Soviet Union. Even historically neutral nations like Sweden and Finland have applied to join the bloc, seeing Article 5 as their best guarantor of security and sovereignty.

At a landmark summit in Madrid on June 28-30, NATO unveiled a new once-in-a-decade Strategic Concept—its broad mission statement—amid a radical beefing up of defenses, raising its Rapid Response Force from 40,000 to more than 300,000 troops. Russia, unsurprisingly, was picked out as “the most significant and direct threat to Allies’ security,” though China—some 3,700 miles from the Atlantic—was also named as a source of “systemic challenges.” On Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden also announced increased American troop deployments across Europe. “NATO is strong and united,” Biden said.

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