Archive for the ‘NATO’ category

A Strategic Reset for NATO

July 13, 2018

Donald Trump’s criticism that the alliance isn’t fit for form is valid. NATO needs an overhaul.


Image: A U.S. Air Force pilot looks at a KC-135 aerial refueling aircraft as he refuels his F-16 fighter during the U.S.-led Saber Strike exercise in the air over Estonia June 6, 2018. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

By Zalmay Khalilzad July 10, 2018 National Interest

Source Link: A Strategic Reset for NATO

{Excellent article and outstanding photo. I suggest you visit the source web page and view this pic in higher resolution. Truly inspiring.  I’ll dub it ‘Photo of the Week’  – LS}

At the NATO summit this week, President Donald Trump will undoubtedly criticize allies for not spending enough on defense and for pursuing their own economic wellbeing, in part at the expense of the United States. The president has been lambasted for criticizing U.S. allies and indeed, our alliances are important and represent some of the greatest achievements of U.S. foreign policy. However, Trump’s criticisms are justified. NATO must reform; it is not sustainable in its present form.

The alliance is ill-structured, ill-equipped and ill-financed to deal with the European region’s two major security problems—an aggressive Russia and the spillover of instability and terrorism from the Middle East and North Africa—leaving aside emerging global security challenges. Worse, at times some members can even be said to have enabled the threat. One example being the massive German purchase of Russian gas, which provides Putin with ongoing financing. To deal effectively with these challenges on an equitable and sustained basis among allies, the terms of the partnership must be renegotiated and its common ground redefined. This is in Europe’s best interest too.

Despite the best efforts of the Clinton, Bush (43) and Obama administrations, Russia has embarked on a more aggressive path, going to war against Georgia and Ukraine, conducting cyber attacks on Estonia and otherwise threatening the Baltic states. For the first time since the end of the Cold War, NATO members are directly threatened by Russian aims. Efforts at finding common ground with Russia based on mutual interest in a changing global environment should continue, but so must preparations to deal with threats from Russia.

Also, Europe faces a threat from the south, as the crisis in the Middle East and Europe’s permissive asylum laws and expansive welfare systems have triggered a flow of hundreds of thousands of refugees. The series of terrorist attacks in Europe inspired or coordinated by the Islamic State is one consequence. This terrorist threat—which combines external and internal security problems—is one NATO is ill designed to address.

Many of NATO’s members have effectively disarmed since the end of the Cold War, with only eight of NATO’s twenty-eight members even spending the required 2 percent of GDP on defense. Meanwhile, the United States faces major fiscal constraints, particularly rising entitlement costs and interest payments, and growing demands to meet its other global responsibilities, particularly in the Western Pacific. Additionally, many European members have favorable balances of trade vis-à-vis the United States, giving credence to the claim that we subsidize them on defense and they take advantage of us on trade.

Gentle persuasion by past presidents failed to induce Europeans to spend more on defense. By contrast, Trump’s demands for greater burden sharing are starting to have an effect. Yet much more still needs to happen. Moreover, we need to focus not just on inputs—how much money is spent—but also on outputs. A reformed NATO must hold members accountable in terms of actual military capabilities they can field. Those who care about NATO should criticize free-riding alliance members, not the efforts of Trump to get the alliance to up its game. At the same time, the Trump administration needs to articulate alliance priorities and the steps needed to adequately address them.

A Strategic Reset for NATO

In a new arrangement, NATO members would first agree on specific plans and capabilities needed to meet the threats from the East and the South as well as an operational division of labor. This doesn’t mean abandoning the requirement to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense, but instead would require every NATO member to commit to spending the necessary resources to meet identified defense responsibilities, which in some cases could require expenditure of more than 2 percent.

Specifically, the alliance should collectively take three steps to field an agreed set of defense outputs:

– Develop integrated defense plans within the NATO military committee for dealing with the Russian threat in northeast Europe, and instability and terrorist threats emanating from the Middle East and North Africa, thereby creating a strategy and a division of labor. This will entail a combined planning effort of the major NATO powers and the members living nearest or most directly affected by these threats.

– Agree to specific outputs—forces, weapons systems, operational capabilities, logistics support, and command and control—that each NATO member must develop and maintain at high readiness. This should take into account the capabilities that are needed now but also look to exploit emerging technologies to solve military problems more effectively as these technologies mature.

– Engage in realistic large-scale annual exercises—analogous the Exercise REFORGER of the Cold War—that will serve as a deterrent for would be aggressors, demonstrate resolve and compliance with NATO commitments and identify shortfalls for remediation.

In addition, the United States should candidly inform the European NATO members that the larger share of these agreed upon capabilities must come from them. We must explain that geopolitical realities require the United States to augment our own defense commitments in other priority regions, especially the Western Pacific. They must also understand that the American public expects wealthy countries to defend themselves principally on their own, with the United States playing a supporting role on an as-needed basis.

We must deliver the hard message that the future of the U.S. commitment under Article 5 is contingent on European performance. Those capabilities provided by the United States should be specifically tailored to reinforce NATO war plans and the security of the front-line states. European states would carry the burden on the southern threat, which affects their states domestically.

This would form the basis of a new global division of labor where America’s European allies assume the primary role for the security of Europe; the United States, Japan, South Korea and Australia would assume the primary role for security in the Western Pacific; and collectively, America and its global and regional allies would share roles in providing for security in the Middle East. Thus, working together, America and its allies would be meeting critical security demands in three critical regions.

Elements of the New Construct

To address the Russian threat in northeast Europe, the United States should lead the planning effort in NATO to develop the requirements for forces capable of deterring and, if necessary, defeating Russian irregular and conventional aggression, and to deter nuclear use. While the specifications for these forces requires comprehensive military analysis, we can conclude that a small tripwire force is inadequate to the task.

Among the capabilities that European NATO members would need to develop would include the following:

– An integrated air defense and surface-to-surface strike capability that would create an anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) belt covering the territory of NATO members and extending into adjacent areas of Russia.

– A counter-A2/AD capability that would defeat Russia battle networks and weapons systems, and Moscow’s ability to threaten NATO forward-deployed forces and reinforcements.

– A special operations forces capability sufficient to counter Russia’s sub-conventional operations involving the so-called “little green men.”

– A ground maneuver force that would combine the kind of light infantry that Hezbollah used against Israel’s offensive forces with heavy armor and artillery units that would consolidate territorial control.

As part of the new NATO security construct, the United States should offer to take the following steps:

– Maintain a small, highly capable ground maneuver force in Europe that would partner with a larger European force.

– Maintain a POMCUS capability in Europe, proximate to the locales where it would likely be needed, that would enable a surge of U.S. capability on a rapid basis if needed. Other major NATO powers, such as France, Germany and the UK should also provide POMCUS-style capability.

– Sell to European allies and partners, or license the right to produce, the high-end weapons systems needed to create the required European A2/AD, counter A2/AD, and maneuver force capabilities. Interoperability is vital and should be programmed into the strategy and plans.

– Agree to back up European arsenals of precision-guided munitions with U.S. stockpiles and production capabilities.

– Provide European NATO members with access to U.S. high-fidelity training capabilities and technologies.

– Provide the C4ISR capabilities that would enable integrated NATO operations in the event of conflict.

– Undertake a new look at what would be needed at every step in the escalation ladder—including tactical and intermediate-range nuclear forces—to ensure that Russia would not gain an advantage though escalating to high levels of conflict. This would be a first step to address any deficiencies in our deterrent.

A similar process should be undertaken regarding the threat from MENA. The flood of migrants from MENA and the infiltration of terrorists into European countries should be treated as a first order security problem for NATO. While these challenges principally affect European security, the United States should work through NATO to help enable European members better to address these challenges. This should include the following steps:

– Assist European NATO members in creating stabilization forces capable of brokering political compacts in fragile states, training local security forces, and building key state institutions.

– Work with European NATO members to develop a political-military plan for the stabilization of Libya and play a supporting role to the main European effort, which will likely require deployment of stabilization forces and establishment of a beachhead to deal with the source of refugees embarking across the Mediterranean Sea.

– Develop a counter-terrorism intelligence fusion and operations center that is part of the NATO command structure, thus coordinating the police, internal security and military responses to terrorism.

– Develop an agreed strategy and political-military plan to defeat the remnants of the Islamic State which is a threat to the member states.

A Trump Doctrine for NATO

In essence, the new construct is analogous to the Nixon Doctrine, only this time for the wealthy countries of Europe. Nixon pledged to come to the defense of allies in the developing would should they be threatened or attacked by major power. However, he insisted under the Nixon Doctrine that these states principally carry the burden for internal defense and lesser contingencies, though assisted with U.S. training and economic and military aid. In Europe today, European NATO members are fully capable of providing for their own defense.

To implement this doctrine, the United States should play an active supporting role and develop a three- to five-year timeline and program to create the needed European capabilities. We need to shore up vulnerabilities now, but this has to be part of a plan to create European capabilities and to set limits on the U.S. role that enable us to prioritize the challenge in East Asia, deal with ongoing threats in the Middle East, and work within our fiscal constraints.

Zalmay Khalilzad was the Director of Policy Planning in the Department of Defense and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the United Nations.

 

What Good is Nato, if Germany is Paying Russia Billions for Gas and Energy

July 12, 2018

By News on the Net —— Bio and Archives–July 12, 2018

Source Link: What Good is Nato, if Germany is Paying Russia Billions for Gas and Energy

Bonus Link: Where in the World Is the U.S. Military?

Bonus Link: What’s Trump’s Position on NATO?

{Maybe it’s time we rethink our participation in NATO.  And what about all the bases we own and operate in Europe? Quite a large investment and seemingly endless expense for the American taxpayer. – LS}

What good is NATO if Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for gas and energy? Why are there only 5 out of 29 countries that have met their commitment? The U.S. is paying for Europe’s protection, then loses billions on Trade. Must pay 2% of GDP IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025.

{In other words, stop screwing with us.  – LS}

 

 

In sweeping speech, Trump calls out Russia for supporting ‘hostile regimes’

July 6, 2017

In sweeping speech, Trump calls out Russia for supporting ‘hostile regimes’, Washington ExaminerSarah Westwood, July 6, 2017

(Please see also, Europe’s Migrant Crisis: Views from Central Europe.– DM)

President Trump applauded Poland’s commitment to secure borders, called out Russia for its activities in Ukraine and Syria and affirmed America’s collective defense commitment to NATO in a sweeping speech Thursday that set the tone for his visit to the G-20 summit this week.

“While we will always welcome new citizens who share our values and love our people, our borders will always be closed to terrorism and extremism of any kind,” Trump said before a large crowd in Warsaw’s historic Krasinski Square.

Unlike much of western Europe, Poland has resisted accepting large numbers of Middle Eastern refugees, and its right-wing ruling party has advocated for keeping Polish borders secure. Trump’s decision to visit Poland and deliver remarks about his worldview before moving on to Germany for the summit was widely viewed as a symbolic endorsement of Poland’s actions.

“This continent no longer confronts the specter of communism,” Trump said on Thursday. “There are dire threats to our security and to our way of life.You see what’s happening out there, they are threats. We will confront them. We will win.”

Trump pointed to the “steady creep of government bureacracy” as another threat facing Poland the U.S.

“The West became great not because of paperwork and regulations but because people were allowed to chase their dreams and pursue their destinies. Americans, Poles and nations of Europe value individual freedom and sovereignty,” Trump said. “We must work together to confront forces, whether they come from inside or out, from the South or the East, that threaten over time to undermine these values and to erase the bonds of culture, faith and tradition that make us who we are.”

“If left unchecked, these forces will undermine our courage, sap our spirit and weaken our will to defend ourselves and our societies,” the president added. “We put faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, at the center of our lives.”

Citing Poland’s historic mistrust of the Soviet Union, Trump went after Russia for its present-day conduct.

“We urge Russia to cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere and its support for hostile regimes including Syria and Iran,” Trump said.

The president also voiced his support for NATO’s Article 5, the collective defense commitment Trump declined to endorse explicitly during his visit to a NATO summit in May.

“My administration has demanded that all members of NATO finally meet their full and fair financial obligation,” Trump said, referring to his push for NATO allies to honor their commitments to spend at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense. “As a result of this insistence, billions of dollars more have begun to pour into NATO.

“To those who would criticize our tough stance, I would point out that the U.S. has demonstrated not merely with words, but with actions, that we stand firmly behind Article 5,” Trump said. “Words are easy, but actions are what matters.

“Europe must do more,” Trump added. “Europe must demonstrate that it believes in its future by investing its money to secure its future.”

Administration officials said the speech was intended to be “very philosphical.”

“The core theme of this speech is a defense of western civilization,” an official told reporters in Warsaw ahead of the speech. “But the basic question of the speech is, are we as a civilization confident enough in our own values to defend and preserve our civilization?”

Trump will head to the G-20 summit in Hamburg on Friday, where he will meet with a number of foreign leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump’s Warsaw Uprising

July 6, 2017

Trump’s Warsaw Uprising, PJ MediaRoger Kimball, July 6, 2017

President Donald Trump delivers a speech at Krasinski Square at the Royal Castle, Thursday, July 6, 2017, in Warsaw. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

If you want to know why Donald Trump will go down in history as a great president, listen to (or read, when it is available) his speech in Krasinski Square, Warsaw today.

Yes, there is a lot of the usual diplomatic persiflage: “Thank you, President Duda. Thank you, Poland.” But be an adult and distinguish the gem from the setting. While the anti-Trump press was busy running stories warning about “unease in Brussels” over Trump’s visit to Poland, Trump once again totally outflanked his critics.  Those who have ears, let them hear:

  1. The United States is absolutely committed to securing Poland’s access to alternative sources of energy.  Now, to whom do you think that was addressed?  What country would use access to oil and gas as political blackmail (do what we say or you can’t warm your homes, light your streets, run your factories)? Who would do such a thing?
  2. The United States is absolutely committed to its trans-Atlantic partnership. That partnership, said Trump in his aspirational mode, has never been stronger: suitably translated, that means that he wishes to assure that it will never be stronger.  It was a proffered hand.  Will the EU bureaucrats reach out and grasp it?
  3. Speaking of bureaucrats, Trump also—mirabile dictu—warned about “steady creep of government bureaucracy” that, left unchecked, saps a people’s will and makes the flourishing of individual initiative, the very marrow of freedom, impossible.  This was a direct kick against the administrative state: I like to see it. Darin the Swamp.
  4. Trump reaffirmed his absolute commitment to Article 5 of the NATO agreement — the bit that pledges members to “collective defense”: an attack on one member is an attack on all. He praised Poland for stepping up to meet its statutory financial commitment to NATO and urged other European countries to do the same. A strong NATO means a strong Europe.
  5. Trump reaffirmed his commitment to battle against “radical Islamic terrorism” and other forms of extremism and highlighted his call in Riyadh in May for Muslim countries to step up and help quash the violence of jihad.
  6. He noted other challenges faced by the West, including cyber-warfare and Russia’s “destabilizing activities” in Ukraine, Syria, and Iran.
  7. But the best part came about three-quarters of the way through.  After reminding his audience about the million people who gathered to hear John Paul II celebrate Mass in 1979, he asked: what did the people want? Answer: “We want God.” This led into the heart of Trump’s speech.  The prerequisite for the success of Western civilization is not material riches. Economic prosperity and military might on their own are not sufficient. The critical leaven is the confidence in core Western values: such things as free speech, the equality of women, respect for individual rights, the rule of law, the affirmation of faith and family.  Hence, the “fundamental question” facing Western nations today is whether the people continue to nurture the cultural self-confidence in those fundamental values. If they do, the West is unbeatable. If those values dissipate, the West is lost.  “As long as we know our history,” Trump said, “we will know how to build our future.” Trump spent a lot of time in his speech rehearsing Poland’s heroic resistance to Nazi atrocities in the Warsaw uprising and its equally heroic resistance to Soviet aggression during and after the war. Not since Ronald Reagan has an American president gone so clearly to the nub of what makes the West great and what threatens that greatness.

Trump Intends To Add Two Prominent Conservatives To His Administration

June 30, 2017

Trump Intends To Add Two Prominent Conservatives To His Administration, Daily CallerAlex Pfeiffer, June 30, 2017

Von Spakovksy’s nomination is sure to please conservatives. He is currently a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation and part of his work there is concentrating on voter fraud.

He wrote in a December 2016 op-ed with John Fund that “there is a real chance that significant numbers of noncitizens and others are indeed voting illegally, perhaps enough to make up the margin in some elections.”

The commission he is set to join will investigate this specific case.

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President Donald Trump announced Thursday that he intends to bring on former Federal Election Commission member Hans von Spakovsky and former Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson to his administration.

Bailey Hutchinson was formally nominated to serve as ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and von Spakovsky will be appointed to serve on the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

Hutchinson,73, served as a Republican senator until 2012 when she decided to not run for re-election. “I am honored to be nominated by [President Trump] to be Ambassador for the United States to [NATO]..our most important security alliance,” Hutchinson said in a tweet.

President Trump will travel to a G20 summit in Germany next week and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters on Thursday that POTUS will make America’s commitment to the alliance clear.

Von Spakovksy’s nomination is sure to please conservatives. He is currently a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation and part of his work there is concentrating on voter fraud.

He wrote in a December 2016 op-ed with John Fund that “there is a real chance that significant numbers of noncitizens and others are indeed voting illegally, perhaps enough to make up the margin in some elections.”

The commission he is set to join will investigate this specific case.

Trump to Germany: Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way

May 29, 2017

Trump to Germany: Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way, PJ Media, Michael Walsh, May 28, 2017

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

What the president understands, and the Europeans pretend not to, is that Russia is no longer the direct menace it was during the days of the Fulda Gap, and that the real menace to Europe and NATO (which, by the way, includes the Islamicizing state of Turkey) is Islam, and its ongoing invasion of the historic lands of Christendom. If you think that’s a joke, and that it can’t happen in France, Italy or Britain, ask the Anatolians, the north Africans and the Albanians how that worked out for them.

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Quick, name the worst leader in western Europe. Yes, it’s a tough call: it’s either whoever the leader of Italy is this week, plus whichever socialist is temporarily in charge of France, plus the your-name-here chinless wonder domiciled at 10 Downing Street in London. But surely the prize goes to Frau Kartoffel herself, German Kanzlerin Angela Merkel, who’s been in office since 2005 and, alas, shows no signs of leaving any time soon.

On his visit this past week to Europe, President Trump spoke some hard truths to our European allies, but none spat it out more quickly than Merkel, to the absolute delight of the Trump-hating New York Times. It is a cold day in hell when the Times speaks fondly of any German, but here it is:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Europe’s most influential leader, has apparently concluded that the United States of President Trump is not the reliable partner her country and continent have automatically depended on in the past.

Clearly disappointed with European leaders’ inability to persuade Mr. Trump to publicly endorse NATO’s doctrine of collective defense — or to agree to common positions on Russia, climate change or global trade — Mrs. Merkel said on Sunday that traditional alliances were no longer as reliable as they once were, and that Europe should pay more attention to its own interests “and really take our fate into our own hands.”

To which let me add: it’s about time. I’ve spent a good deal of my life in Germany, speak the language, and raised my children there; my most recent book, the best-selling The Devil’s Pleasure Palace, concerns not only the Frankfurt School of Marxist philosophers and the cultural havoc they wrought in America, but the musical and literary cornerstones of German culture itself, including Goethe and Wagner.

If it took Trump’s typical bluntness to finally get the message across that the Europeans are now responsible for the mess of their own making, good. Germany in particular has coasted under the American nuclear umbrella for decades, allowing it to a) concentrate entirely on rebuilding its domestic economy, infrastructure and social welfare state and b) thumb its nose at American warmongering imperialism. It’s one of the least attractive aspects of the German character; the gratitude that the immediate postwar generation felt for our having rescued them from Hitler and the love Germans felt for all things American have vanished. In their place has come a churlish, we-can-take-it-from-here mutter that does not become them.

Formerly known as Christendom (Wikipedia)

What the president understands, and the Europeans pretend not to, is that Russia is no longer the direct menace it was during the days of the Fulda Gap, and that the real menace to Europe and NATO (which, by the way, includes the Islamicizing state of Turkey) is Islam, and its ongoing invasion of the historic lands of Christendom. If you think that’s a joke, and that it can’t happen in France, Italy or Britain, ask the Anatolians, the north Africans and the Albanians how that worked out for them.

Speaking on the campaign trail after contentious summit meetings in Belgium and Italy, Ms. Merkel said: “The times in which we could rely fully on others, they are somewhat over. This is what I experienced in the last few days,” she said.

Given this new context for international relations, she said, “that is why I can only say that we Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands — of course in friendship with the United States of America, in friendship with Great Britain and as good neighbors wherever that is possible also with other countries, even with Russia.”

Welcome back to the 19th century! As the gorilla in the middle, Germany has always been forced to deal with the West (in the form of France and French culture) and the East (Russia); the result was two world wars and the deaths of millions. The European Union was essentially a response to the lingering question of how to prevent the great ape from escaping its cage and having dinner in Paris a month or so later. Worse for Merkel, although born in Hamburg, she grew up on the wrong side of the East-West German border and so was raised in a state that was at once a communist dictatorship and a swaddling socialist experiment, one which beat the sense of personal striving out of the people and replaced it with a dull conformity.

That dullness is now embodied by Merkel, a dull, uninspiring leader with no vision for the future and, childless, with no personal stake in it. Somewhere in hell, Walter Ulbricht and Erich Honecker are having a good laugh about their perfect revenge on the capitalist West. Sure, it took their own destruction to pull it off, but what could be more German than that?

Trump to Sit Down With Turkish President Erdogan Amid Heightened Tensions

May 16, 2017

Trump to Sit Down With Turkish President Erdogan Amid Heightened Tensions, Washington Free Beacon, May 16, 2017

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing on May 14, 2017.
(Photo credit should read THOMAS PETER/AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump will meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Washington, D.C., for the first time on Tuesday, one week after the White House announced plans to arm Syrian Kurds fighting the Islamic State despite fierce opposition from Ankara.

The meeting comes amid strained relations between the two NATO allies. Erdogan is expected to call on the Trump administration to reduce cooperation with the Kurdish YPG and renew demands for the extradition of Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based cleric whom the Turkish president accuses of masterminding last year’s failed coup.

The prominent Turkish newspaper Sözcü in an op-ed published Sunday urged Erdogan to evict U.S. troops from the strategic Incirlik Air Base, located 60 miles from the Syrian border in southern Turkey. American forces have used the base to launch airstrikes against ISIS since 2015.

Michael Rubin, a resident scholar on the Middle East at the American Enterprise Institute, predicted Erdogan will threaten to deny the United States access to Incirlik in an attempt to pressure Trump to scale back the American partnership with the YPG. He said Erdogan may also pivot toward closer cooperation with Russia in Syria.

“Erdogan will be shooting himself in the foot if he does either because it would just push the U.S. into the arms of the Syrian Kurds,” Rubin told the Washington Free Beacon on Monday. “I don’t think we have anything to lose in this meeting. In this visit, all eyes will be on Erdogan.”

Discussions between the two leaders will center on how to “deepen our cooperation to confront terrorism in all its forms,” the White House said in a statement announcing the meeting.

Turkish government officials bristled last week at the Trump administration’s decision to distribute weapons and ammunition to Kurdish YPG fighters to assist in the operation to retake Raqqa, the de facto capital of ISIS’s self-proclaimed caliphate.

Turkey considers the YPG an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or the PKK, which is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States, and Europe. Erdogan accused the Trump administration on Wednesday of siding with “terrorist organizations” and urged the White House to reverse the decision.

Rubin said a reversal is unlikely.

“If we were to give into Turkey by either halting our arming of the Syrian Kurds or extraditing Gulen it would cost the United States very deeply—it would be worse than [former president] Obama’s ‘red line,'” he said. “If you look at the balance sheet of what Turkey gets us, the balance is not in favor of Turkey.”

U.S. military officials have contended the YPG is the only force on the ground capable of forcing ISIS out of Raqqa in the near future. Air Force Col. John Dorrian, a spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, told Pentagon reporters last week that providing arms to the Kurds will “accelerate” the offensive on Raqqa, where the U.S. military estimates about 4,000 ISIS fighters remain.

Though U.S.-Turkish relations may not be at risk in the short-term, Rubin predicted a “real crisis” with NATO should Erdogan seek closer relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin given that the United States shares classified information with NATO partners.

Trump and Erdogan’s meeting comes ahead of the 2017 NATO summit in Brussels scheduled to begin at the end of the month.