Proposition One: Yes, the Orange Buffoon can be, and probably is, too uninformed and too downright stupid, to comprehend what his ridiculous comments and assertions mean in terms of the overall diplomatic and military alliances among western nations. After all, he’s the one who’s pulled out of the Trans Pacific Partnership leaving the field to the Chinese in the region; the one who pulled out of the Paris Climate Accords leaving nations which tailored their policies to meet our objections to the Kyoto standards wondering what happened; and, the one who is undercutting the renegotiation of NAFTA, while making the G8 the G7 Plus 1. So, why should we expect any other behavior from him?
Proposition Two: He is committed to distributive negotiation/bargaining (as previously noted) and lacks the will and the commitment to engage in the more difficult, nuanced, and complex forms of integrated negotiations. Further, he does not have a firm grasp on facts, and those he may manage to grip he places out of context or uses in inappropriate settings. And, now off to the NATO races…
NATO background and history: See Department of State, Office of the Historian, “Milestones” which is no longer maintained, but still available. This will provide information about NATO from 1945 to 1952. NATO itself has a page devoted to the history of the alliance. This site offers an update into current NATO perspectives such as:
The 21st century will not be all about peacebuilding, however. Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its aggressive actions against Ukraine have been a sobering reminder of the importance of NATO’s core task: collective defence. This, coupled with the Syrian conflict, the rise of ISIL and terrorism (and often home-bred terrorism), has become a brutal reality across many continents. Meanwhile, tensions rise as migrants seek refuge from conflict in countries that are struggling with the weight of ethnic and religious strife, demographic pressures and economic underperformance. Cyberattacks are becoming ever more frequent and ever more destructive. And through social media and other means, the opponents of liberal open societies are spreading disinformation and propaganda that seek to undermine the values that NATO has always sought to protect and promote. Altogether, the complexity of the current security environment is such that NATO’s flexibility is, yet again, put to the test.
NATO funding and support: Again, NATO itself maintains Internet publications of the various types of funding and mutual assistance projects associated with its core missions. Please note that most of the contributions are indirect (national) as when countries send forces, equipment, and supplies to assist operations; or, provide assistance to the US for its operations in conjunction with NATO interests. There are direct contributions and a system is in place to provide coordination and oversight. Readers will also find it useful, I think, to read the 2014 Wales Summit Agreement on NATO, which can be found here.
Again, NATO is NOT a country club with dues. It is NOT a protection racket. No one “pays” to support it. It IS a mutual defense league.
Who is meeting the 2014 defense spending criteria? For starters, the US is spending 3.6% of its GDP on defense. Forbes has a handy, up-to-date, interactive showing the percentage by country for defense spending. While I periodically disagree with some of Forbes’ editorial policies, I usually have no reason to quibble with their statistics. I’d recommend this source for accurate information on national defense spending. At this point it might be advisable to return to the brief aphorism of British general Lord Hastings Ismay. “The purpose of the new treaty organization founded in 1952, Ismay asserted, was “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”
The French, in particular, may have their reasons for finding a reassertion of German militarization problematic — as in 1870, August 1914 to November 1918, and May 1940 to April 1945. We should probably be understanding if they are a bit edgy on the subject.
We should also see NATO from the “keep the Russians out” perspective of the Baltic States. See: “Trump Derides NATO as ‘Obsolete.’ Baltic Nations See It Much Differently.” in the New York Times, June 10, 2018. See also, Business Insider: Russia appears to be building up its military bases near a weak point in the NATO alliance, June 10, 2018. I’m rather glad not to be an Estonian right now. I don’t want to be Ukrainian now either. See Radio Free Europe. Ukraine’s water supply in Sky News. Russian texts to Ukrainian soldiers in Unian Post. And, then there’s that thing with Crimea.
Meanwhile, we can only hope that the US House of Representatives will follow the Senate’s lead in offering resolutions in support of the NATO alliance, and that Congress will continue to hold fast to the Magnitsky Act and the sanctions, although that little junket by Congressional GOP Moscow Mules over the 4th of July has me a tad worried.
Buckle Up. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.