Obama rallies NATO on two fronts

Share with others:


Print Email Read Later

NEWPORT, Wales— Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, af­ter levy­ing sharp crit­i­cism of Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin and prom­is­ing de­ci­sive ac­tion against the Islamic State, is work­ing to take ad­van­tage of grow­ing in­ter­na­tional un­eas­i­ness to rally NATO into ac­tion.

In a se­ries of of­fi­cial and side­line meet­ings Thursr­day at the North At­lan­tic Treaty Or­ga­ni­za­tion sum­mit in Wales, Mr. Obama pressed U.S. al­lies to bol­ster their de­fense ca­pa­bil­i­ties and make com­mit­ments to counter the Islamic State mil­i­tants in Iraq and Syria. He will carry that mes­sage into a meet­ing to­day on the fu­ture of NATO.

“This is a sum­mit where NATO re­ally has to do some re­flec­tion of the new re­al­i­ties and adapt,” Doug Lute, the U.S. am­bas­sa­dor to NATO, said in a brief­ing Thurs­day night.

The NATO sum­mit has served as an op­por­tu­nity for Mr. Obama and Brit­ish Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron to harden the al­li­ance’s stance in con­front­ing Rus­sia’s in­cur­sion into Ukraine, as well as in the new bat­tle with Islamic State ex­trem­ists. Mr. Obama is push­ing other NATO mem­bers to in­crease de­fense spend­ing, which has lagged through­out Europe in re­cent years, to com­mit to a new rapid re­sponse force and to iden­tify ways that each can sup­port an in­ter­na­tional ef­fort against the Islamic State.

For Mr. Obama, the tim­ing of the an­nual NATO sum­mit has cre­ated an op­por­tu­nity to both re­as­sure and pres­sure Euro­pean na­tions that, ac­cord­ing to ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials, have grown in­creas­ingly jit­tery about Mr. Putin’s in­ten­tions and the global threat posed by the Islamic State. With NATO’s more than 11-year com­mit­ment to Af­ghan­istan com­ing to an end, the re­sponse to those new threats has come to the fore­front.

“As that mis­sion winds down, this is a step back and a re­flec­tion and a di­ag­no­sis of op­por­tu­ni­ties for the al­li­ance, be­cause it faces new chal­lenges,” Mr. Lute said.

Mr. Obama’s push for in­ter­na­tional com­mit­ments has be­come a pri­mary fo­cus as he faces crit­i­cism from both po­lit­i­cal par­ties in Wash­ing­ton that he hasn’t laid out a com­pre­hen­sive strat­egy to ad­dress in­ter­na­tional cri­ses. He also is con­fronted by con­tin­ued ques­tions about when -- or if -- he will ex­pand U.S. air strikes against the Islamic State into Syria from Iraq.

In a meet­ing Thurs­day with Mr. Cameron, Ital­ian Prime Min­is­ter Mat­teo Renzi, French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande, Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel and Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Porosh­enko, Mr. Obama and the other lead­ers agreed “on the need for Rus­sia to face in­creased costs for its ac­tions,” ac­cord­ing to Ben Rhodes, Mr. Obama’s dep­uty na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser.

That agree­ment came the day af­ter Mr. Obama, dur­ing a speech in Esto­nia, cas­ti­gated Mr. Putin for his sei­zure of Crimea and his in­cur­sion into east­ern Ukraine.



Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

You have 2 remaining free articles this month

Try unlimited digital access

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here

You’ve reached the limit of free articles this month.

To continue unlimited reading

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here