NATO leaders commemorate 70th anniversary
President Trump and other NATO leaders are in London for the 70th anniversary of the alliance.
The North Atlantic Alliance was founded in 1949 by the U.S., Canada and other Western European nations to provide collective security against the Soviet Union.
Ron Milam, a professor of military history at Texas Tech, said the alliance, which originally contained 12 countries, now has 29, and the countries have been integral during conflict.
"For example, they helped after 9/11. The NATO nations helped in the United States' efforts in Afghanistan against Al Qaeda. They've also been important in some of the other conflicts that happened in Europe," Milam said.
The Soviet Union no longer exists, but he said Russia is still a concern among the NATO countries. It is putting a lot of pressure on Turkey, one of the member nations.
Milam said it is important for the U.S. to keep close ties with it.
"The United States still has an adversarial relationship with Russia. There's no question about that, so Turkey is important to us in that sense," Milam said, "and of course, Turkey looks at the United States as somewhat of a barrier to some of the things they want to do in the Middle East. So turkey is kind of at the juncture of both of those sections: Middle East, Europe, Russia."
Before leaving for London, President Trump said other nations need to pay their fair share.
"It has not been a fair situation for us because we pay far too much. As you know, Secretary Stoltenberg said that we were responsible, I was responsible for getting over $130 billion dollars extra from other countries that we protect," Trump said.
The original idea was countries would pay 2 percent of their gross domestic product toward NATO, but many European countries have suffered economic disasters since then.
"It's not always possible for those countries to pay their 2 percent. But I think President Trump has been successful in getting them to at least adopt the idea of the 2 percent," Milam said.
Alliances are important to the world, Milam said, as no country can defend itself alone, including the United States. He said having an organization like NATO that can solve conflict is better than none at all.