The BBC reports Europeans are quite alarmed (“a nightmare for Nato’s European countries”) because Donald Trump has stated that if elected president he may withdraw a guarantee of protection to Nato countries that do not “fulfill their obligation” to the US.
First, let’s categorically affirm that the United States should unconditionally come to the aid of Nato countries under attack as to fulfill our treaty obligations under Nato. Nevertheless, what Trump said to justify this policy makes a lot of sense.
Second, Nato was established with the US for the collective defense of European countries threatened by the Soviet Union during the cold war. The Soviets and their central and Eastern European allies subsequently formed their own defense Warsaw Pact. But the Soviet Union and Lenin’s Russian communism and collectivism have already been discarded to the dustbin of history. Despite Vladimir Putin’s saber-rattling, there is as much authoritarianism and definitely more collectivism in the European social democracies than in Russia today. Besides Nato, some European nations are part of the EU, and they should be investing more in their own defense and protecting their borders, than in thinking and dreaming economics and the EU.
Third, the US has been urging Europeans to increase military spending for their own security, but instead their budgets are fat on socialism and extravagant domestic social welfare programs they cannot afford. Instead, American taxpayers are saddled with burdensome taxes for our own profligate social programs, as well as defending the pusillanimous Europeans and other nations that should be doing more for their own defense. Of Nato’s military budget of $893 billion dollars, the U.S. contributed $650 billion, more than two-thirds of the budget (other Nato members contributed the remaining $243 billion; photo, right). And we also police most of the world, thus shouldering a third of total global military spending! Trump wants the Europeans to share the financial burden more evenly, if they are to be defended by the U.S., while reducing America’s exorbitant defense spending.
Fourth, on top of the Western and Central European pusillanimity, we hear again and again, the irksome criticism of America’s alleged “gun culture.” The Europeans want to have it both ways. They are militarily helpless and beg to be protected, but then they mock us and criticize us for our Second Amendment and our guns!
And fifth and last, the EU needs to get its house in order before it meddles and criticizes allies and even member nations for doing what is in their best interest. Nato and the EU have been helpless to stem the tide of refugees pouring into Europe and to protect the border of EU members. Instead, the EU has set immigration quotas for members states and forced compulsory resettlement of refugees that have been understandably rejected by many EU countries. The EU has been injudiciously critical of member nations, and not only in immigration matters, but also in internal matters seriously affecting national security.
So, I understand Trump’s opinion as it relates to the failed coup d’etat in Turkey in which at least 290 people were killed and over 1,400 wounded, when a faction of the military attempted to overthrow the government on July 15, 2016. Trump supported Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in his vigorous response against the coup participants. For its part, the EU has criticized Erdogan and EU spokesmen said that they were “concerned” about the “unacceptable” measures taken by the Turkish government. All the while, the EU cannot protect its porous borders from Islamic Jihadist terrorists pouring into seemingly defenseless and helpless Europe.
Likewise, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was critical of Erdogan for the crackdown in the wake of the coup attempt. I wonder what Kerry would say if the attempted coup had taken place in the US and his own life had been in danger? Has Kerry forgotten the conflagration that took place in Waco, Texas, by our own government against American citizens, ostensibly for violation of gun laws under the watch of another Democratic administration and an Attorney General named Janet Reno? It is the same hypocrisy we hear repeatedly from the Democrats in selectively criticizing other nations that supposedly do not “maintain strong democratic principles.” We have seen what “democracy” has wrought in Iraq after the U.S. tumbled Saddam Hussein. As the refrain warns, one size does not fit at all!
But let’s not stray from the Europeans; they need to do more for their own security — share the financial burden and military obligations, and stop whining and criticizing others, as when a member acts and does what it needs to do to uphold law and order and national security, and preserve its border! If not, the US should renegotiate the antiquated Nato treaty or leave the alliance, just like the Brits courageously left the meddlesome and national sovereignty-eroding EU!
Miguel A. Faria, M.D. is a retired neurosurgeon and author of “Cuba in Revolution — Escape from a Lost Paradise” (2002). His website is haciendapub.com