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What Does NATO Do, Anyway?

Douglas Lute

By Robin Wright (original source The New Yorker)

“The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, the largest and most powerful military alliance in history, is not usually fodder for election-year politicking. But in an interview with the Times earlier this week, Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump said that the United States should not automatically honor NATO’s core principle of mutual defense, specifically if Russia invaded several newer members of the alliance, the three strategic Baltic states and former Soviet republics—Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. In a sharp rebuke, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Thursday that the principle of mutual defense is “ironclad.” He told reporters, “There should be no mistake or miscalculation made about this country’s commitment to the transatlantic alliance.”

NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned, “We defend one another. . . . Two world wars have shown that peace in Europe is also important for the security of the United States.” Solidarity among allies is “a key value for NATO,” he said, in a statement. Trump’s comments came under fire from fellow-Republicans, too. “Statements like these make the world more dangerous and the United States less safe,” Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, tweeted.”

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