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Sweden Calls on NATO to Focus on China to Placate Trump

by | Jul 9, 2024

Sweden Calls on NATO to Focus on China to Placate Trump

by | Jul 9, 2024

29e97a 4 simon sg indo pacific partners vilnius nato article

Official photo of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg with the Leaders of NATO’s partner countries in the Indo-Pacific at the Vilnius Summit, 12 July 2023. Left to right: Prime Minister of Australia Anthony Albanese, Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Prime Minister of New Zealand Christopher Hipkins, President of the Republic of Korea Suk Yeol Yoon. © NATO

As members of the North Atlantic Alliance gather in Washington DC to celebrate the pact’s 75th year, Sweden is calling on the alliance to shift some of its attention to China. Stockholm argues this will align the bloc more with former US President Donald Trump’s policies. 

On Tuesday, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom explained that the alliance should reorient some of its military assets towards Asia to confront Beijing. “If you want your partner to think about the things you think are a problem, you have to show commitment to their problems, and the American people are more concerned with the threat that China poses than Russia, for obvious reasons,” he explained. Billstrom added the bloc will keep fighting Russia in Ukraine but China “should also be recognized as part of NATO’s concerns, [and] headache.”

The shift towards confronting Beijing would put Brussels more in line with the world view of Trump, who many believe will likely win November’s election after President Joe Biden’s recent poor debate performance. 

Some European leaders and NATO officials have feared that if Trump returns to the Oval Office, he will end US support for the proxy war in Ukraine or remove America from the alliance. Billstrom admitted that without Washington’s membership, NATO would be “unthinkable” and lack credibility.

It is unclear how the bloc would find the resources to confront China in the Indo-Pacific. Members of the alliance are struggling to provide Ukrainian soldiers with the arms they need to hold off Russian forces. Additionally, a NATO official recently explained that the bloc is 35-50 brigades short of being able to execute its battle plans should war with Russia break out in Europe. 

The focus on China is the latest effort by the bloc to “Trump-proof” US support for Ukraine should the 45th president win reelection. Past efforts to lock the American taxpayers into a decade-long scheme to fund Kiev with tens of billions of dollars annually failed to materialize. 

The concern over a second Trump presidency may be misguided. During his first term, Trump oversaw the expansion of NATO and began shipping arms to Ukraine. 

American political figures who operate near Trump say his main concern is getting alliance members to spend more on weapons and war. Currently, the US military budget accounts for 68% of the bloc’s defense spending, at least ten times greater than second-highest spender Germany. 

Kyle Anzalone

Kyle Anzalone

Kyle Anzalone is news editor of the Libertarian Institute, opinion editor of Antiwar.com and co-host of Conflicts of Interest with Will Porter and Connor Freeman.

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