Brussels, Belgium. The Trump administration has spent the past weeks scrambling to turn off the Russian scandals in Washington, NATO officials have been busy putting the final touches on preparations for today’s gathering of NATO heads of state and government in Brussels.
Not officially a summit, today’s meeting of NATO leaders comes at an important moment in the alliance’s evolution. Usually boring affairs, this gathering of leaders from all 28 NATO member countries promises to be anything but.
This 2016 US election season saw NATOs existence called into question as Donald Trump originally intended to pull the US out of NATO, close US bases overseas and “bring the troops home.” That did not happen and now NATO gets a second chance at life, so to speak.
Many leaders will also have Monday’s terrorist attack in Manchester, England on their minds as they gather in Brussels barely 72 hours after the bombing. They are likely to speak of the attack. They will discuss NATO or coalition as they call it, responses in Syria.
Outside NATO’s offices, the flags are already flying at half-mast. But apart from this – and a moment of silence for the victims, the meeting’s agenda itself likely will not change much if at all, since the topic of enhancing counter-terrorism cooperation was already one of only two topics to be discussed-the other just how many thousands of men and women will be shipped to bolster American occupation forces in Afghanistan.
Unlike in the past, when the positions of NATO’s European members may have been divided, expect only continental unity this time around. Look for the Europeans to echo Trump’s calls for stronger anti-Russian cooperation while stopping short of any new defense spending commitments.
There will be more of this Trump sponsored unity in Brussels today as the president’s aides try to create presidential moments for the embattled American leader to take home with him from his trip. In the present circus climate of almost daily revelations, the White House is desperate to secure any victory, even a manufactured one based on mistruths, that will allow it to portray the president in a favorable light to his supporters back home.