Posted tagged ‘Trump and NATO’

Jostling NATO’s status quo

May 31, 2017

Jostling NATO’s status quo, Washington Times, Robert W. Merry, May 30, 2017

NATO Irrelevance and Russia Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

Europe doesn’t need any U.S. umbrella in order to protect itself from external threats because it faces no such threats that require U.S. assistance. Its only serious outside threat is unchecked immigration of such magnitude, and of such cultural challenge, that any smooth assimilation will be extremely difficult, perhaps impossible. We only need to look at what’s roiling European politics these days to see that this threat agitates the European mind far more than any potential Russian hostility.

But don’t expect today’s establishment thinkers to incorporate those realities into their thinking. The status quo is too comfortable, however shattered it may be in the real world.

******************************

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

In politics and geopolitics, people tend to cling to the old ways of thinking like a drowning man in a stormy sea clings to a life preserver. Case in point: NATO. Consider the reaction to President Trump’s performance at last week’s summit of the venerable Atlantic alliance, where he chided the Europeans for not hitting defense spending targets and seemed to avoid — somewhat pointedly, some thought — the standard expressions of devotion to NATO’s Article 5, which commits NATO members to consider an attack on one to be an attack on all.

“Donald Trump,” declared neoconservative thinker David Frum in The Atlantic, “is doing damage to the deepest and most broadly agreed foreign policy interest of the United States.” He called Mr. Trump’s overseas trip “an utter catastrophe.” Henry Farrell, writing in The Washington Post, called it “disastrous.” The New York Times said the president’s “repeated scolds” in Europe “are not just condescending but embarrassing.”

With so many establishment institutions and figures singing the same angry ballad, it must mean something. And it does: that they continue to cling to the old ways of thinking even as events demonstrate that those old ways no longer fit reality. The more that becomes apparent, the more tenaciously they grasp the status quo.

The New York Times gave the game away in calling NATO “an indisputably important alliance that has kept the peace for 70 years.” That’s demonstrably false. NATO kept the peace, brilliantly and heroically, for 41 years — from 1948, when it was established, until 1989, when its reason for existence expired with the downfall of the Soviet Union. Since that time, NATO not only hasn’t kept the peace (peace was largely a result of improved circumstances) but has been fomenting tensions that constitute an ominous flash point of potential war.

Consider the realities of the Cold War, when Bolshevik Russia had 1.3 million Soviet and client-state troops poised on Europe’s doorstep, including 300,000 in East Germany. Now that’s a threat, and NATO was created to deter that threat. That it did so, while the United States pursued its containment policy with varying degrees of sternness and effectiveness but ultimately with success, is a testament to the persistence and boldness of U.S. leadership at a harrowing time.

Those days are long gone. Now it is NATO that is threatening, adding 12 countries since the end of the Cold War and angling to bring in several more. It has pushed right up to the Russian border, a development that any country in Russia’s position would consider incendiary and a security threat. Indeed, in 2008, Russia warned the West about further eastward expansion by NATO, particularly into Ukraine and Georgia. U.S. Ambassador William Burns warned Washington that Russia considered further NATO enlargement to be “a potential military threat an emotional and neuralgic issue.”

Yet just two months later NATO officials declared that the alliance “welcomes Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO.” Six years after that the United States helped foster a coup against Ukraine’s democratically elected (though corrupt) leader in order to bring to the country a more Western-oriented leadership, more attuned to moving westward into the European orbit.

When Russia responded as it warned it would, preventing Ukraine from being extricated fully from its sphere of influence, the cry went up throughout Europe and America: Russian aggression; it must be stopped; it threatens all of Europe.

And yet when President Trump last week pressured NATO nations to increase their defense spending to 2 percent of gross domestic product, European leaders reacted as if they had been beset by a menacing dog. German Chancellor Angela Merkel told a crowd in southern Germany, “The times in which we could completely depend on others are on the way out. I’ve experienced that in the last few days. We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands.”

What a thought. It has a ring similar to what Mr. Trump said during the late campaign (which he since has backed away from) — namely, that NATO is obsolete. NATO put all of Europe under an American security umbrella. Now nearly all of Europe and America, having pushed up against Russia, say the West is once again under threat from Russia. But, when Mr. Trump suggests the European powers should bolster their defense spending to meet that threat, the nettled Europeans respond that they can’t take that kind of abuse, they’re just going to have to separate from America.

But what about that Russian threat? Won’t Ms. Merkel want to get back under that security umbrella when the Russian bear growls and gets up on his hind legs with ominous malignity, threatening the Continent as in Cold War days?

The fact is that the Russian bear constitutes no such threat, and Mrs. Merkel knows it. A further fact is that Europe doesn’t need any U.S. umbrella in order to protect itself from external threats because it faces no such threats that require U.S. assistance. Its only serious outside threat is unchecked immigration of such magnitude, and of such cultural challenge, that any smooth assimilation will be extremely difficult, perhaps impossible. We only need to look at what’s roiling European politics these days to see that this threat agitates the European mind far more than any potential Russian hostility.

But don’t expect today’s establishment thinkers to incorporate those realities into their thinking. The status quo is too comfortable, however shattered it may be in the real world.

Does Germany Owe Us ‘Vast Sums’?

March 20, 2017

Does Germany Owe Us ‘Vast Sums’? PJ MediaMichael Walsh, March 19, 2017

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Merkel, more than anyone, is the woman who destroyed the notion of European cultural cohesion, the unity of its history, and its Western identity. Her folly in throwing open the borders of the European Union (which is itself a Franco-German political fantasy now coming unglued) to the “migrant” hordes of an invading Islamic world will reverberate for decades to come. In an effort to replace the German population — which, largely thanks to its women, is almost wholly uninterested in reproducing itself — the childless chancellor could only see a mechanical solution to a problem of reproductive biology, without ever once (in true East German fashion) asking herself why.

**************************

President Trump’s recent meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel went about as well as could be expected. He treated her with thinly veiled contempt, avoiding her gaze, staring off into the middle distance whenever possible, his body language proclaiming his true feelings. Whether he heard her softly muttered request for a photo-op handshake at the end of their meeting doesn’t matter: his mien made his feelings abundantly clear.

Germany, or bits of it, has gone from being a mortal enemy in 1941 to a four-power protectorate in 1945 to an American client state until 1989, to a nominal ally up to the present. The German media — and the Trump-haters in the American press — acted as if the president had just delivered her an ultimatum about the Sudetenland — even though, as you can see below, Trump shook hands with the chancellor at least three times.

Eins (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

But Merkel, more than anyone, is the woman who destroyed the notion of European cultural cohesion, the unity of its history, and its Western identity. Her folly in throwing open the borders of the European Union (which is itself a Franco-German political fantasy now coming unglued) to the “migrant” hordes of an invading Islamic world will reverberate for decades to come. In an effort to replace the German population — which, largely thanks to its women, is almost wholly uninterested in reproducing itself — the childless chancellor could only see a mechanical solution to a problem of reproductive biology, without ever once (in true East German fashion) asking herself why.

Trump also spoke some unwelcome truths to the German people, foremost among them their debt to the United States of America from liberating them from Hitler, for midwifing the Federal Republic of Germany, for supporting Germany unification (despite the wretched George H. W. Bush/ James A. Baker III administration’s indifference, if not outright opposition, to it) and, paramount, for the American nuclear umbrella and thousands of troops that allowed the postwar Germans to establish and maintain their cushy social-welfare state. The Allies wanted a defanged Germany, and boy did they ever get it.

And yet that denatured Deutschland is what is killing Germany. When you enter the workforce in your mid-to-late twenties and retire in your fifties, your exposure to the vicissitudes of life is as minimal as it can be. And when that work is punctuated by six weeks of vacations, multiple days off, spa treatments and a strictly regulated set of working-hours… well, Bruder, you were on Easystrasse.

Throw in Germany’s historical notion of Kinderfeindlichkeit — hatred of children — and you have a surefire prescription for national suicide: Germany, literally, has nothing to live for.

But the free ride’s now over, and the Germans don’t like it one bit:

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday rejected U.S. President Donald Trump’s claim that Germany owes NATO and the United States “vast sums” of money for defense. “There is no debt account at NATO,” von der Leyen said in a statement, adding that it was wrong to link the alliance’s target for members to spend 2 percent of their economic output on defense by 2024 solely to NATO.

“Defense spending also goes into UN peacekeeping missions, into our European missions and into our contribution to the fight against IS terrorism,” von der Leyen said. She said everyone wanted the burden to be shared fairly and for that to happen it was necessary to have a “modern security concept” that included a modern NATO but also a European defense union and investment in the United Nations.

A “modern security concept” sounds very much like the Obama administration’s notion of “soft power.” And no power in Europe is softer than Germany’s.

Zwei (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Trump said on Twitter on Saturday – a day after meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington – that Germany “owes vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!” Trump has urged Germany and other NATO members to accelerate efforts to meet NATO’s defense spending target…. During her trip to Washington, Merkel reiterated Germany’s commitment to the 2 percent military spending goal.

Big deal. Trump got all kinds of grief from the foreign-policy establishment when he voiced his skepticism about NATO during the campaign, but he was on to something. The rapid expansion of what used to be the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (essentially, the U.S. and Britain, with other spear-carriers, and minus the French) has gobbled up several of the former Soviet client states in eastern Europe, pushing itself right up to the Russian border. To say this is provocative to the Russians under the Soviet-restorationist  (in territory rather than Marxist philosophy) regime of Vladimir Putin is an understatement.

I’m not privy to what Trump told Merkel in private, but it’s hard to imagine the president didn’t put the iron laws of political economics to her in the bluntest possible way. Merkel has had the freedom to import and support a million cultural hostiles a year with no meaningful work skills in large part because Germany pays so little for defense, and can afford to amuse itself with virtue-signalling while its citizens are robbed, raped, and murdered — although even that largesse is coming to an end.

So it’s amusing to watch the knee-jerk Left instantly come to the side of the country they used to love to hate — Germany — the instant Trump criticizes their beloved Angela Merkel. Here’s the Washington Post, which under Jeff Bezos and editor Marty Baron has turned into a snarling, rabid dog of Trump-hatred, spouting the new Party Line:

Since World War II, Germany has intentionally kept its military small. The country defines itself by its pacifism and its commitment to the idea of “never again.” Germany’s defense spending — or lack thereof — has frequently been criticized and mocked in the past. In 2014, for instance, German forces made headlines when they were forced to use broomsticks instead of machine guns during a NATO exercise, exposing the state of its underequipped military.

But, Germans argue, they make up for this in other ways. As Merkel argued in a speech last month, mutual security goes beyond military spending. International development aid on things like hospitals and schools does as much for peace as warheads in Europe. “When we help people in their home countries to live a better life and thereby prevent crises, this is also a contribution to security,” Merkel said in Munich. “So I will not be drawn into a debate about who is more military-minded and who is less.”

She and other German leaders also point out that they’re bearing the brunt of the Syrian refugee crisis, spending 30 to 40 billion euros a year. If that was included in the tally, they say, they’d be putting more than 2 percent of their budget a year toward security. (They’re also quick to note that U.S. military interventions are one reason there are so many displaced people from the Middle East.)

Auf wiedersehen (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Now that is the very dictionary definition of chutzpah.

Although it’s — alas! — unlikely to happen, sensible Germans who wish to maintain and further their cultural patrimony need to dump Merkel in the upcoming elections. What will come after her might well be worse — it may well be a Leftist coalition, unlike the current closeted leftism of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party — but if Europe is to have any chance at survival, that’s a chance that’s still worth taking. And least then we can see the German government for what it really is.

German Defense Minister Reinforces Trump’s Reservations on NATO

February 19, 2017

German Defense Minister Reinforces Trump’s Reservations on NATO, Power LinePaul Mirengoff, February 18, 2017

President Trump sent his “A Team” to Europe to demonstrate America’s commitment to NATO. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, and Vice President Mike Pence all traveled to a major conference in Munich for that purpose.

However, key European officials, along with honorary European John McCain, used the occasion to vent over Trump. Apparently, the Europeans would rather grandstand to their domestic audiences and demonstrate their moral superiority than bolster the alliance by establishing decent relations with the new U.S. president.

The worst venting came from German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen. The Washington Post reports that she “hammered” Trump (without mentioning his name).

Von der Layen said: “We must pursue finding a reliable coexistence with Russia together instead of going over our partners’ heads in a bilateral relationship.” But the U.S. is entitled to conduct its own diplomacy with Russia. And the new president is certainly entitled to take a fresh look at how best to deal with the Russians, just as Barack Obama did.

Speaking of the Russian reset, did Obama and Hillary Clinton pre-clear it with Germany and our other NATO allies? If not, then Trump, who has yet to settle on a comprehensive Russia policy, would break no new ground by going “over our partners’ heads.” If so — if Germany signed-off on the reset — then Trump would be well-advised not to take advice on Russia from the Germans.

In response to Trump’s call for NATO members to meet their financial commitment to the alliance, von der Layen tried to change the subject:

Burden is a matter of funding, of money, but sharing the burden is also much more than what can be expressed in euros and in dollars. To share a burden is to first of all share the principle to stand up for one another. Without exception.

According to the Washington Post, Germany would need to double its defense expenditures to meet its commitments to NATO. Anyone can talk a good game about “standing up for one another,” but a country that lags this far behind on its commitments isn’t truly standing up for its alliance partners.

Having told the U.S. how to conduct diplomacy and explained the deep meaning of burden sharing, Von der Layen then told us how we must fight:

[The alliance must be] bound by human dignity in all it does. This leaves no room for torture. It means avoiding civilian casualties at all costs.

I don’t think we need a lecture from Germany, of all countries, on how to conduct ourselves in war time. The German defense minister should explain how a country could ever win the kind of wars America has been fighting and “avoid[] civilian casualties at all costs.”

As for “torture,” there are likely to be situations in which only enhanced interrogation can avoid civilian casualties. In those cases, such methods are a way to avoid these casualties at a reasonable cost.

I’m a fan of NATO. Yet, the value of allies who wants to fight wars as von der Leyen says she does must be questioned.

The answer, I think, is that we’ll do the dirty work for Germany and others while they posture, but hopefully pay a bit more. That isn’t burden sharing by any reckoning, but it’s reality — unless arrogance like von der Leyen’s completely sours Trump on NATO.