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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

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”

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