NATO chief seeks to shore up unity as rows roil allies

  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during an event 'NATO Engages' at Central Hall Westminster in London, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019. U.S. President Donald Trump and his NATO counterparts were gathering in London Tuesday to mark the alliance's 70th birthday amid deep tensions as spats between leaders expose a lack of unity that risks undermining military organization's credibility. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco) Francisco Seco

  • French President Emmanuel Macron leaves 10 Downing Street after meeting with Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other heads of State, ahead of the NATO summit, in London, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019. U.S. President Donald Trump and his NATO counterparts were gathering in London Tuesday to mark the alliance's 70th birthday amid deep tensions as spats between leaders expose a lack of unity that risks undermining military organization's credibility. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/Pool Photo via AP) Daniel Leal-Olivas

  • Supporters of the Kurdish people take part in a demonstration against the NATO summit and U.S. President Donald Trump's visit, in London, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019. Trump and his NATO counterparts were gathering in London Tuesday to mark the alliance's 70th birthday amid deep tensions as spats between leaders expose a lack of unity that risks undermining military organization's credibility. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali) Alberto Pezzali

  • A demonstrator wears a mask with a picture of U.S. President Trump during a demonstration against the NATO summit and Trump's visit, in London, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019. Trump and his NATO counterparts were gathering in London Tuesday to mark the alliance's 70th birthday amid deep tensions as spats between leaders expose a lack of unity that risks undermining military organization's credibility. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali) Alberto Pezzali

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel leaves 10 Downing Street after meeting with Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other heads of State, ahead of the NATO summit, in London, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019. U.S. President Donald Trump and his NATO counterparts were gathering in London Tuesday to mark the alliance's 70th birthday amid deep tensions as spats between leaders expose a lack of unity that risks undermining military organization's credibility. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/Pool Photo via AP) DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS

  • Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan leaves 10 Downing Street after meeting with Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other heads of State, ahead of the NATO summit, in London, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019. U.S. President Donald Trump and his NATO counterparts were gathering in London Tuesday to mark the alliance's 70th birthday amid deep tensions as spats between leaders expose a lack of unity that risks undermining military organization's credibility. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/Pool Photo via AP) DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS

  • A police officer stands outside of Central Hall Westminster in London for the event 'NATO Engages' Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019. NATO heads of state will gather later in the evening at Buckingham Palace to mark the Alliance's 70th birthday. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham) Matt Dunham

  • U.S. President Donald Trump meets NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg at Winfield House in London, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019. US President Donald Trump will join other NATO heads of state at Buckingham Palace in London on Tuesday to mark the NATO Alliance's 70th birthday. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) Evan Vucci

  • Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, meets with Latvian President Egils Levits in London on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP) Sean Kilpatrick

  • White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney talks with US President Donald after his meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at Winfield House, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in London. US President Donald Trump will join other NATO heads of state at Buckingham Palace in London on Tuesday to mark the NATO Alliance's 70th birthday. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci) Evan Vucci

  • Police outside The Grove hotel in Watford ahead of the NATO Leaders Meeting beginning on Tuesday, in Hertfordshire, England, Monday, Dec. 2, 2019. U.S. President Donald Trump will gather with NATO’s other leaders in London Tuesday as the world’s biggest military alliance, marking its 70th birthday, battles with one of the most confounding of adversaries: Itself. (Steve Parsons/PA via AP) Steve Parsons

  • A No Drone Zone sign is posted on a fence which has been set up around Winfield House, the US Ambassador's residence as US President Donald Trump is set to arrive ahead of the NATO Summit in London, Monday, Dec. 2, 2019. U.S. President Donald Trump will gather with NATO’s other leaders in London Tuesday as the world’s biggest military alliance, marking its 70th birthday, battles with one of the most confounding of adversaries: Itself. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali) Alberto Pezzali

Associated Press
Published: 12/3/2019 3:01:47 PM

With questions raised over NATO’s credibility, the Western military alliance struggled to present a united front Tuesday as some of its biggest member countries traded barbs over their visions for the future.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg sought to shore up unity as leaders from across the 29-member trans-Atlantic alliance gathered in London to mark its 70th anniversary and to show that it is adapting to modern threats.

“NATO is the most successful alliance in history because we have been able to change when the world is changing,” Stoltenberg said after talks with U.S. President Donald Trump.

“That is exactly what we are doing again,” he said.

Though NATO has thousands of troops deployed in the Baltics and Poland to dissuade Russia from any military forays like those it launched in Ukraine and Georgia in the recent past, the strength of that military deterrent has been undermined by recent bickering among some leaders.

Ahead of the London summit, French President Emmanuel Macron alarmed his allies by lamenting the “brain death” of NATO, in part due to what he said was a lack of U.S. leadership, but also because of Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria.

Trump has described Marcon’s comments as “very, very nasty.” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has suggested that it might be the French leader who is “brain dead.” The spat comes as their host at the London summit, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is otherwise engaged in a divisive election campaign.

Even Stoltenberg conceded that leaders “should never question the unity and the political willingness to stand together and to defend each other.”

“The whole purpose of NATO is to preserve peace,” he said. “It’s to prevent conflict by sending a clear message to any potential adversary that if one ally is attacked it will trigger a response from the whole alliance.”

Stoltenberg won support from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said “the future for this alliance is bright.”

“We’ve adjusted and adapted and stayed true to the original values that brought us together,” Trudeau said.

He added that NATO’s longevity since it was first established in 1949 to provide collective security for Europe against what was then the Soviet Union was down to the fact that “we’ve always had frank, real conversations.”

Macron wants NATO to focus on strategic questions like who its enemies really are and how to improve ties with Russia rather than dither over defense spending.




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