US election: What would a Biden or Trump win mean for NATO?

US election: What would a Biden or Trump win mean for NATO?
Copyright  Alik Keplicz/Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
By Christopher Pitchers

NATO, the organisation set up to counter Soviet power and influence, has been described by Donald Trump as "obsolete". Would Joe Biden have a different approach?

The United States' NATO allies in Europe will be eagerly awaiting the results of the 2020 Presidential Election as transatlantic relations have been somewhat strained since Donald Trump took office.

Some European allies were worried quite early on in his presidency after he described the security alliance as "obsolete". And with some countries feeling increasingly threatened at their borders, from the likes of Russia or Turkey, alarm bells began to ring.

Trump did eventually row back on his comment after a 2017 meeting in Washington with NATO secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, where he eventually described it as "no longer obsolete".

And his approach hasn't always been the best for the unity of the continent, as one analyst at Spanish think-tank Real Instituto Elcano, Carlota García Encina, told Euronews: "What Donald Trump has done these four years has been to prioritise bilateral relations over multilateral ones and this divides Europe. Donald Trump has strengthened ties in the area of defence, with eastern European countries like Poland, but not with others. If Donald Trump wins, this is going to be accentuated."

But Trump’s supporters often say to judge him by his actions, rather than his words. In Poland, during 2017, he oversaw the largest deployment of US troops since the Cold War.

However, he's also threatened to pull military personnel out of Germany, after demanding Europe contribute more money towards NATO, an accusation he has consistently levelled at allies.

"I think a lot of people in the United States feel that the rest of the world has been living at their expense, particularly at their expense in the matter of national security and there is some validity in that Europe is not pulling its weight as far as providing for its own defence is concerned and is relying on the United States' NATO guarantee. So he has some grounds for his attitudes," John Bruton, the EU's ambassador to the US from 2004 to 2009.

But with a Biden presidency, things could be very different for NATO. It could see his administration pumping more money in to the organisation, in order to combat what he sees as the West's greatest threat: Russia.

"Joe Biden does want to lean on European allies. Joe Biden has said that he is going to be very tough on Russia and that means he needs NATO. And he has said that he will invest in NATO and also in NATO capacities to deal with Russia," Encina said.

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