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The Establishments war on Donald Trump
See other The Establishments war on Donald Trump Articles

Title: Trump isn’t attacking NATO. He’s strengthening it.
Source: WaPo
URL Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opin ... 8-8553-a3ce89036c78_story.html
Published: Jul 12, 2018
Author: Marc A. Thiessen
Post Date: 2018-07-15 08:40:43 by Tooconservative
Keywords: None
Views: 53
Comments: 4

As President Trump put Germany and other allies on notice for the harm they are doing to NATO with their failure to spend adequately on our common defense, Democrats in Washington came to Germany’s defense. “President Trump’s brazen insults and denigration of one of America’s most steadfast allies, Germany, is an embarrassment,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a joint statement.

Sorry, Trump is right. The real embarrassment is that Germany, one of the wealthiest countries in Europe, spends just 1.24 percent of its gross domestic product on defense — in the bottom half of NATO allies. (The U.S. spends 3.5 percent of GDP on its military.) A study by McKinsey & Co. notes that about 60 percent of Germany’s Eurofighter and Tornado fighter jets and about 80 percent of its Sea Lynx helicopters are unusable. According to Deutsche Welle, a German parliamentary investigation found that “at the end of 2017, no submarines and none of the air force’s 14 large transport planes were available for deployment due to repairs,” and “a Defense Ministry paper revealed German soldiers did not have enough protective vests, winter clothing or tents to adequately take part in a major NATO mission.” Not enough tents?

To meet its promised NATO commitments, Germany needs to spend $28 billion more on defense annually. Apparently Germany can’t come up with the money, but it can send billions of dollars to Russia — the country NATO was created to protect against — for natural gas and can support a new pipeline that will make Germany and Eastern European allies even more vulnerable to Moscow.

Sadly, Germany is not alone. Belgium, where NATO is headquartered, spends just 0.9 percent of GDP on defense — and fully one-third of its meager defense budget is spent on pensions. European NATO allies have about 1.8 million troops, but less than a third are deployable and just 6 percent for any sustained period.

When Trump says NATO is “obsolete,” he is correct — literally.

This is not a new problem. I was at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, and vividly recall how, when it came time to take military action in Afghanistan, only a handful of allies had any useful war-fighting capabilities they could contribute during the critical early stages of Operation Enduring Freedom. At NATO’s 2002 Prague summit, allies pledged to address these deficiencies by spending at least 2 percent of GDP on defense and investing that money in more usable capabilities. Instead, defense investments by European allies declined from 1.9 percent of GDP in 2000-2004 to 1.7 percent five years later, dropping further to 1.4 percent by 2015.

Little surprise that when NATO intervened in Libya a decade after 9/11, The Post reported, “Less than a month into the Libyan conflict, NATO is running short of precision bombs, highlighting the limitations of Britain, France and other European countries in sustaining even a relatively small military action over an extended period of time.” An alliance whose founding purpose is to deter Russian aggression could not sustain a limited bombing campaign against a far weaker adversary.

President Barack Obama called NATO allies “free riders,” and President George W. Bush urged allies to “increase their defense investments,” both to little effect. But when Trump refused to immediately affirm that the United States would meet its Article 5 commitment to defend a NATO ally, NATO allies agreed to boost spending by $12 billion last year. That is a drop in the bucket: McKinsey calculated that allies need to spend $107 billion more each year to meet their commitments. Since polite pressure by his predecessors did not work, Trump is digging in on a harder line: On Thursday he suggested NATO members double their defense spending targets to 4 percent of GDP.

This is not a gift to Russia, as his critics have alleged. The last thing Putin wants is for Trump to succeed in getting NATO to spend more on defense. And if allies are concerned about getting tough with Russia, there is an easy way to do so: invest in the capabilities NATO needs to deter and defend against Russian aggression.

Trump’s hard line also does not signal that he considers NATO irrelevant. If Trump thought NATO was useless, he would not waste his time on it. But if allies don’t invest in real, usable military capabilities, NATO will become irrelevant. An alliance that cannot effectively join the fight when one of its members comes under attack or runs out of munitions in the middle of a military intervention is, by definition, irrelevant.

NATO needs some tough love, and Trump is delivering it. Thanks to him, the alliance will be stronger as a result.


Poster Comment:

This writer was Bush Jong-Un's main speechwriter in his second term.

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#1. To: Tooconservative (#0) (Edited)

Apparently Germany can’t come up with the money, but it can send billions of dollars to Russia —

And take in a million refugees.

"Germany's government expects to spend around 93.6 billion euros ($110 billion) by the end of 2020 on costs related to the refugee crisis".

Yet they can't come up with an addition $28 billion per year for defense? No wonder Trump is pissed off.

misterwhite  posted on  2018-07-15   8:53:36 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#2. To: misterwhite (#1)

"Germany's government expects to spend around 93.6 billion euros ($110 billion) by the end of 2020 on costs related to the refugee crisis". Yet they can't come up with an addition $28 billion per year for defense? No wonder Trump is pissed off.

EU NATO was about $110B short of their 2% obligation in 2016.

Last year, Trump got them to increase only $11B.

Now he got a commitment from them to add another $33B.

Trump is moving the needle and making them spend more. But without Germany as the military linchpin, both economic and geostrategic, NATO just doesn't make sense. Any action in Poland or the Baltics hinges on Germany being a strong military and willing to fight. This is why Trump zeroes in on Merkel, over and over.

See my other NATO thread for a bit more info on why Germany is the key to defending eastern Europe today, just as Germany was the key to defending western Europe during the Soviet era.

Tooconservative  posted on  2018-07-15   9:48:59 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#3. To: Tooconservative (#2)

Any action in Poland or the Baltics hinges on Germany being a strong military and willing to fight.

Any action in Poland or the Baltics would involve the Russians, no? The same Russia which now supplies Germany with 60-70% of their natural gas?

misterwhite  posted on  2018-07-15   10:10:38 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#4. To: misterwhite (#3)

Any action in Poland or the Baltics would involve the Russians, no? The same Russia which now supplies Germany with 60-70% of their natural gas?

There may be another fight involving electricity for the Baltics. Russia supplies it now. EU is running a new undersea line to put the Baltics on EU grid power in the next few years. This will isolate the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.

That is just one example of a potential flashpoint in eastern Europe and the Baltics.

Poland is a frontline state against Russian forces deployed from Belarus. It is also the route through which American and NATO forces would have to move from Germany to Poland, through Russia's Kaliningrad, to try to rescue the Baltics from Russian threats from Belarus. The armed forces of the Baltics are puny and barely adequate to deal with the internal threat posed by concentrations of Russian passport holders in those countries. You may recall how Russia issued passports to the South Ossetians as their prelude to annexing South Ossetia and Abkhazi territories from Georgia. They did some of this with Crimea and southeast Ukraine too.

Tooconservative  posted on  2018-07-15   10:18:53 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


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