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June 29, 2022

Trump vs. Biden — The NATO Contrast

As it turns out, “America First” showed leadership. “America Is Back” undermines that progress.

Is “America back,” as Joe Biden loves to boast about his leadership? Well, that depends on what you mean. Back of the line? Maybe. Back to “leading from behind”? Absolutely. This week’s NATO summit provides a pretty clear picture of where we were and what we’re “back” to.

In October 2020, we wrote this:

Donald Trump came to Washington to shake things up, and that was no less true with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. NATO was full of members resting on their laurels and taking advantage of American bounty and defense capabilities. Few were truly pulling their weight. In 2016, Trump called them out as “obsolete,” ruffling more than a few feathers. Even we were skeptical that tactic would work.

But when President Trump set to work prodding NATO nations to hold up their end of the bargain in terms of defense spending, things started looking up.

That’s right. Mr. America First told NATO nations — our best allies — to shape up, and they started doing so. They began spending more on defense and taking NATO more seriously. Not a moment too soon, as it turns out. With Russian strongman Vladimir Putin deciding that Biden’s “leadership” provided an opening for his invasion of Ukraine, NATO nations needed to be ready.

Ironically, as we noted this past March, if it weren’t so serious, it would be mildly amusing that a Biden-caused disaster became a reality check as well as cover to make a change Trump demanded, even though it’s happening well after Trump left office so the Europeans can avoid giving Trump credit.

Which brings us to this week’s NATO summit.

Biden did manage to at least not mess up an important agenda item: the admission of Sweden and Finland to the alliance. Turkey initially objected over the two nations’ stance on the Kurds, a group the Turks consider to be terrorists, but the countries were able to iron out their differences.

Bringing two Scandinavian neighbors to Russia into NATO no doubt greatly vexes Putin, but he’s still pounding away on Ukraine, and the U.S. so far has outpaced all the rest of Europe in aid sent. The U.S. currently has 100,000 soldiers in Europe, while NATO has 40,000 spread across frontline countries. If Ukraine is to stand, more must be done to help.

Yes, many European nations are spending more on defense, but only eight NATO countries spent the requisite 2% of GDP on defense in 2021. Germany refuses to commit. Italy and Belgium promise to meet the 2% threshold, but by the years 2028 and 2035, respectively.

Does anyone think Joe Biden will convince them to do otherwise?

In fact, one of the other notable events during Biden’s week in Europe was French President Emmanuel Macron being sure reporters and their microphones heard him telling Biden that the U.S. would have to drill more oil because Saudi Arabia and the UAE aren’t going to bail us out. Macron is a Bidenesque ecofascist dedicated to getting rid of fossil fuels, but, as Ed Morrissey rightly put it, “Even Macron has to understand that sitting on these massive reserves in the US while Russia uses high oil prices to fund its war of imperial aggression is flat-out insane.”

Finally, by way of contrasting Trump’s leadership with Biden’s once again, the “straight news” Associated Press opines, “Biden’s election was seen by most allies as an American reset, returning to norms honed over decades, with predictability and stability at the fore.”

Naturally, the leftists at the AP see this as desirable. But part of the beauty of Trump’s efforts was that he disrupted allies who’d grown far too comfortable and complacent thanks to American enabling. Trump brought needed change. When Biden isn’t being told what to do, he’s putting all of that old stuff right back in place and undoing progress. America is “back,” after all.

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