Skip to content
The Editors

NATO Isn't Obsolete. But It Could Be More Vital.

U.S. allies need to pay their fair share, but that's only the start.
Free rider?

Free rider?

Photographer: Sean Gallup

Neither U.S. President Barack Obama nor NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg mentioned Donald Trump after their impromptu meeting on Monday, but the Republican front-runner's claim that the alliance is "obsolete" hung heavily in the atmosphere. So, too, did Obama's own recent comments that many allies are "free riders" taking advantage of U.S. military prowess.

NATO remains vital to European and global security, as Obama and Stoltenberg noted -- particularly given Russian aggression in Ukraine; Europe's refugee crisis; the persistent threat from Islamic State; and recent terror attacks in Ankara, Brussels and Paris. But the alliance is insufficiently prepared to meet the threats to Europe that can be expected in coming years.