Everyone I’ve read has been conceding that Trump was right about the need for NATO Countries in Europe to spend more on their own defense. It sure made sense to me.
But have we thought this through, especially those of us who appreciate that the Cold War is over?
The president’s antagonism at last week’s North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit was similarly destructive. Mr. Trump called out German Chancellor Angela Merkel for free-riding on the U.S. military. But NATO was formed to defend the West from the Soviets, and Mr. Trump currently is trying to make Russia an ally. While our rapproachement with Russia is long overdue, if Russia is going to become an ally somehow why should NATO increase its military spending? Shouldn’t we be talking about a peace dividend instead?
Germany spends about 1.2% of gross domestic product on defense, less than the 2% target NATO adopted in 2006 and far below the 4% Mr. Trump wants. But Germany’s puny spending level is owing in part to its self-conscious decision after World War II to keep its armed forces small. Does the U.S. really want to change that? NATO’s first secretary general described the purpose of the alliance as keeping the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans down. Mr. Trump and his supporters should seek to uphold that mission.
F.H. Buckley. Shouldn’t that be on the table, especially since part of the growning populist/nationalist dissatisfaction with the EU is the perception of growing German hegemony in Europe?
I’ve noted under Trump a reduction of what I (following others) call Zombie Reaganism in economics. But the reflex for a robust, heavily-armed NATO qualifies, too.
Reagan was right for his historic moment. He’s not right for all ages.
Mr. Buckley’s larger point, reformatted:
- Mr. Trump’s statements and actions often are not admirable.
- Honest commentary is especially needed now on the right.
Honest commentary on the right might include something stronger than “not admirable,” but Mr. Buckley, author of the forthcoming The Republican Workers Party: How the Trump Victory Drove Everyone Crazy, and Why It Was Just What We Needed, got a lot right. (The telltale colon in the middle of that title marks the author as a lawyer.)
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The waters are out and no human force can turn them back, but I do not see why as we go with the stream we need sing Hallelujah to the river god.
(Sir James Fitzjames Stephen)
Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.
(Philip K. Dick)