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NATO heads of state in Brussels at the 2018 NATO summit. Photo: Julien Mattia/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Transatlantic solidarity appeared strained on day one of the NATO summit, as leaders parried rhetorical blows from President Trump, including his charge that U.S. allies "owe us a tremendous amount of money for many years back."

Trump criticized countries spending less than 2% of GDP on defense, before making an unexpected call to boost the figure to 4%. He also said Germany was "totally controlled" by Russia, denouncing a planned gas pipeline that would link the two countries and yet speaking little about the Russian threats across Europe.

Yes, but: There have been meaningful policy and security agreements that risk getting lost amid the rhetoric.

The details: The 29 leaders — including President Trump — agreed on a "30-30-30" readiness initiative that would shorten the time necessary to assemble a force of aircraft, warships and land battalions. They condemned Russia's annexation of Crimea as "illegal and illegitimate," and pledged not to recognize it — just before Trump's meeting with Putin in Helsinki next week. They made progress on counterterrorism and military mobility, and began to sort out NATO cooperation with the European Union.

The bottom line: For all the superficial battering the alliance may take, its underlying strategic logic remains sound. The transatlantic partners are likely to get through the present crisis as they have through ones before. In many ways, the alliance works. While the current friction is unwelcome and largely unnecessary, reports of NATO's death are greatly exaggerated.

Richard Fontaine is the president of the Center for a New American Security.

Go deeper

46 mins ago - Health

Study: Common antidepressant guards against COVID hospitalization

A COVID-19 intensive Care Unit in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil on May 27, 2021. Photo: Fabio Teixeira/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The readily available antidepressant fluvoxamine significantly reduced COVID-related hospitalizations, according to a large study published Wednesday.

Why it matters: The clinical trial suggests that a cheap, readily available drug could dramatically reduce serious illness and death when prescribed early.

By the numbers: Catholics, Biden and abortion

Expand chart
Reproduced from Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals

President Biden — the second Catholic U.S. president — will meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday, as some church leaders debate whether to deny Holy Communion to politicians who support abortion rights.

By the numbers: Overall, two in three U.S. Catholics believe Biden should be allowed to take Communion despite his stance on abortion, according to polling by Pew Research Center.

Texas House probes school library books dealing with race and sexuality

Photo: Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images

Texas state Rep. Matt Krause, chair of the Texas House Committee on General Investigating, announced Wednesday that he's initiating a probe into schools' library books, according to a letter sent to the state's education agency and other superintendents.

Why it matters: The probe focuses on books that discuss race, sexuality or "make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex," Krause wrote in the letter.

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