Wednesday, July 11, 2018

NATO Bending to Trump

By Douglas V. Gibbs
Author, Speaker, Instructor, Radio Host

When it comes to foreign relations we haven't had a President who knows what he's doing quite like President Donald Trump since President Ronald Reagan.  Foreign Relations takes a firm hand among a circle of leaders who are wet noodles, and enemies who will take a mile for every inch every chance they can get.  The leftist Marxist progressives who claim to be our allies think appeasement and careful, soft-footed, "The Quiet Place" style stepping is the best way to confront our enemies (and allies).  The thing is, and Trump understands this, a firm hand is necessary when dealing with our allies as much as it is when dealing with historical enemies (like North Korea, Russia, or China) because they, frankly, think we should carry the whole burden of keeping the world safe because, well, that's the way it's always been, and they'd prefer to dump money into socialist programs that would not be affordable (and really is not affordable at any time), otherwise.

President Trump made it loud and clear, very early, that the United States is sick and tired of receiving no help, or very little help, from our soft allies, when it comes to funding the defense of their behinds.  So, he's been firm.

The progressive left has been freaking out.  They claim that's not how you treat our friends.

With friends like that, who needs enemies?

And like any good negotiator, Trump basically says that if they don't want to play ball, he'd be glad to take his ball and go home with it.

It's like being willing to walk off a car lot.  As you walk away, the used car salesman comes running up to you, "okay, okay, here's the reins to the negotiations, how do you want to make a deal?"

It was an awesome tactic with Kim Jong Un in North Korea, and Trump's firmness led to historical meetings and agreements that no Western leader has been able to accomplish . . . ever.

After the tense NATO summit President Trump accused German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government of being "captive" to Russia and demanded it immediately step up defense spending.  Further, Trump is demanding that NATO allies "reimburse" Washington for defending the continent.  Merkel, who grew up in communist East Germany (which actually explains a lot about her), shot back that she knew what it meant to be under Kremlin domination and Germany had the right to make its own policy choices.

So does the United States.  It is out of courtesy that we spend our money to protect Europe militarily.

What is funny about that is Trump has been accused of being a protectionist president.  If that was the case, we'd have already told Europe to take a hike.

In reality, our interests are at stake when it comes to Europe, so keeping Europe out of the hands of worse dictators than the Marxists already running around the continent is indeed in our best interest.  But, it is their behinds we are protecting, and Trump is right when he says they need to step up their participation and funding of that protection.

In response to Merkel's shot back across Trump's bow, the American President, without skipping a beat, continued to guide and maneuver the breakfast meeting with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg and various European leaders.

"Everybody's talking about it all over the world, they're saying we're paying you billions of dollars to protect you but you're paying billions of dollars to Russia."

Later, Trump and Merkel met in a one-on-one meeting.  Trump stated that they had a "very very good relationship".

NATO allies agreed at a summit in Wales in 2014 to move towards spending two percent of GDP on defense by 2024. But Germany, Europe's biggest economy, spends just 1.24 percent, compared with 3.5 percent for the US.

"These countries have to step it up -- not over a 10 year period, they have to step it up immediately," Trump said.

"We're protecting Germany, France and everybody... this has been going on for decades," Trump said. "We can't put up with it and it's inappropriate."

Trump's "very direct language" has the European leaders on pins and needles, though they all agree with Trump that the allies need to boost NATO's resilience, fight terror and share the cost of defense more equally.  If Europe would stop importing terrorists, in the name of refugees and migrants, that would probably help, too.

EU President Donald Tusk told Trump he should "appreciate your allies" and reminded him that Europe had come to America's aid following the 9/11 attacks.

Never mind that the United States in World War II, and ever since, has been saving Europe's hindquarters.

That all said, their childlike lashing out against Trump's resolve is beginning to crack.  Slowly, the stubborn European leaders are being herded by Trump towards acting in a more reasonable manner when it comes to their defense.  And, by the time it's all over, they will all recommit to Article 5 in the articles of NATO, which states that an attack on one member is an attack on them all.

Stubborn children who don't understand the big picture always needs a firm hand.  President Trump has been impressive with his navigation through foreign affairs.  In fact, it's downright refreshing to see an American President act from a position of strength, rather than groveling, for a change.

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

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