The U.S. ambassador to NATO has, when one thinks about it, just one job. No matter who holds the job, the U.S. ambassador to NATO has many priorities, as one would expect for a role that involves dealing with dozens of countries and trying to get them to agree on a coherent defense policy. But one would think that not provoking a nuclear war with Russia would be at the very top of the ambassador’s list of priorities. This seems like a no-brainer, but it helps to focus on the simple things. The United States has a special obligation to be the “adult in the room” and to keep the alliance focused on constructive responses to collective threats.
This graphic shows the number of nuclear warheads owned by each country known to have nuclear weapons. For more on trends in nuclear arms control, see Oliver Thränert’s recent addition to the CSS Analyses in Security Policy series here. For more CSS charts, maps and graphics on proliferation, click here.
When asked about President Donald Trump’s July 2018 visit to Europe, Henry Kissinger presciently noted, “I think Trump may be one of those figures in history who appears from time to time to mark the end of an era and to force it to give up its old pretenses.” In other words, for all the uproar surrounding the president’s personality, something bigger is going on, and Trump has come to personify it. Perhaps the biggest challenge is, therefore, to put words to this shifting ground and imagine its potential consequences.
This article was originally published by The Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM) on 12 September 2018.
Implementation of the NATO Brussels Summit decisions will enhance deterrence and defence on the Alliance’s Eastern Flank, especially through an improvement of the ability to mobilise and deploy larger reinforcements. At the same time, NATO members’ different threat perceptions, including their view of Russia, remain a challenge. Maintaining the U.S. in the lead role will be key to further adaptation but this position could be weakened by growing transatlantic tensions and dissonance in the American administration.
Only if Europeans resume a serious debate about their responsibilities for their own security
“Do we need the bomb?” asked the front page of Welt am Sonntag, one of Germany’s biggest newspapers, last month. In an essay in the paper, political scientist Christian Hacke answered “yes”, arguing that, “for the first time since 1949, the Federal Republic of Germany is no longer under the United States’ nuclear umbrella.”