The transatlantic military alliance is going through a difficult phase on its anniversary. Much depends on Germany and the outcome of the US election.

A fighter plane taking off.

A Bundeswehr fighter jet during a NATO air force exercise in June. Photo: Bjorn Trotsky/imago

It was supposed to be the biggest party ever held in Washington. NATO celebrates itself, its strength and its solidarity with Ukraine, as a bulwark against aggressors and dictators of all kinds. After all, as NATO says, it has been creating peace between member states for 75 years now. French President Emmanuel Macron's provocative comment from 2019, in which he called the military alliance “brain dead”, has been deleted.

Cynical but true: Russia's invasion of Ukraine can safely be described as a boost for the military alliance. The record levels of allies' defence spending, which NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reported on a few weeks ago, showed the willingness of members to invest in the country's own weaponry.

It was US President Joe Biden who took the reins from the start of the war in Ukraine in 2022 and quickly pledged his almost unconditional support to NATO. About two and a half years have passed and solidarity seems to be crumbling. France is no longer a guarantee of stability after the ad hoc parliamentary elections. Right-wing populist governments no longer hide their proximity to Putin. But the biggest source of uncertainty is the United States itself.

If Donald Trump is re-elected US president in November, the military alliance could change significantly. Trump has repeatedly complained that the assistance clause of Article 5 does not apply unconditionally to him. European states should please make more efforts when it comes to defence spending. Otherwise, the US would not come to the aid of the attacked states.

The concern that things will not stop rumbling is real. The world is watching these days at Washington and at the weakened US President Joe Biden. After failed public appearances, doubts are growing about his resilience. And that is what the president of a war power who wants to take a decisive stance against dictators like Putin needs. If the US, as an anchor of stability, is removed in a Trump administration, will the alliance be prepared?

There are high hopes for Germany. Chancellor Olaf Scholz's expectations are extremely high when he arrives in Washington in the coming days – after all, Germany is one of the second largest arms donors to Ukraine after the United States. And NATO is counting on the fact that in future arms supplies and training of the Ukrainian armed forces will be coordinated in Wiesbaden, Hesse.

The federal government has currently reached the NATO target of two percent for defense spending as a percentage of gross domestic product. But it is doubtful whether this will continue reliably in the coming years. Upgrade costs. This puts a real damper on the party before it even begins.