Tensions over anemic European defense spending have long suffused transatlantic relations—and since 2014, they have become all-consuming, crowding out other priorities, straining the alliance, and leading to exasperation on both sides of the Atlantic. U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly berated NATO allies for failing to invest more in their militaries, and at big transatlantic gatherings, the issue is the elephant in the room.
President-elect Joe Biden, a committed transatlanticist, will undoubtedly take a less strident tone than his predecessor has done on this issue. But the elephant will still be there, because the European pillar of NATO really is in a sorry state that undermines the alliance’s credibility. The United States does need more from Europe on defense—but the United States also needs to recognize that simply pressing individual member states to increase their spending is just not working.The above excerpt was originally published in Foreign Affairs. Please click here to view the full article.