NATO Might Just Survive
Thanks in part to Trump’s efforts, the 70-year-old alliance may be stronger than ever.
Even before Donald Trump took the Oath of Office on Jan. 20, 2017, the Leftmedia warned that he would be a threat to NATO. These concerns resurfaced last year when the president threatened to pull the United States out of the alliance.
Whether the president was seriously planning to remove the U.S. from NATO is not known, but sometimes words speak louder than actions. And Trump’s words included a warning to other member states to financially support NATO and its objectives.
And they’re beginning to respond.
Speaking in August 2018, the president asked, “How about if we got into a conflict because a country was attacked? Now we are in World War III and protecting a country that wasn’t paying its bills. So I got them to pay $100 billion, though it’s going to be much more than that. But a tremendous amount of money. They are paying up.” He added, “We have a great relationship. Now they respect us. They respect our country again.”
Thanks to pressure from the Trump administration, in 2017 and 2018 the alliance increased its funding by over $70 billion and its military personnel by more than 90,000 troops. That marks a commitment from an increasing number of member nations to contribute 2% of their GDP to NATO (the U.S. contributes 3.5%). NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg this week credited Trump for helping NATO adapt to a more unpredictable world and expressed his appreciation for the president’s leadership.
Trump is right to ask other member states to contribute more. For example, Germany is expecting to fall short of its 2% commitment as its overall military spending declines in the coming years. But this is due to a lack of political will rather than limited funds.
The editors at The Wall Street Journal write, “Berlin is providing political cover for other NATO members tempted to scrimp on spending if an economic downturn stretches budgets. This will also embolden Mr. Trump and others in Washington who argue that German defense failures are a reason to rethink U.S. commitments to Europe.”
One of those “others” is Vice President Mike Pence, who criticized Germany this week for failing to meet its financial obligation despite being Europe’s largest and healthiest economy. Additionally, Pence warned that Turkey’s decision to purchase an anti-missile defense system from Russia, instead of one offered by the U.S., threatens to undermine NATO.
Yet despite all the warnings from Democrats that such tough talk would hurt the alliance, the opposite has occurred. NATO is stronger than ever.
This week NATO foreign ministers met in Washington, DC, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the organization. Additionally, not only did the secretary general meet with the president to discuss the importance of maintaining a strong alliance, but he also gave a historic speech to Congress at the invitation of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Stoltenberg stated, “European allies and Canada have spent an additional $41 billion in the last two years and … by the end of 2020, that figure will rise to $100 billion.” The money will be used for missile defense and purchasing aircraft to defend European nations as well as fighting terrorism and ISIS. He also asserted, “This is good for Europe and it is good for America,” while noting that the coalition is making “remarkable progress.”
The secretary general went on to strike an upbeat, appreciative tone: “America has been the backbone of our alliance. It has been fundamental to European security and for our freedom. We would not have the peaceful and prosperous Europe we see today without the sacrifice and commitment of the United States.”
So much for all those fears about an unpredictable Trump making enemies of our allies.
And so much for all that talk about Trump cozying up to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Stoltenberg asserted that NATO must be prepared for an aggressive Russia that remains a threat to cyber security, continues to support the Syrian regime, and has been emboldened by its 2014 annexation of Crimea. However, he did stress the need for dialogue and maintaining a better relationship with Russia — words that Democrats were not apt to embrace considering their ongoing obsession with the phony Trump/Russia collusion narrative.
For now, however, Europeans living under the NATO umbrella will benefit from an organization better prepared to meet the challenges of 21st century. Credit goes to all the member states who have reaffirmed their commitment to NATO, and to President Trump for his strong leadership on the world stage.
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