Saturday, July 07, 2018

Out In The Cold

Donald Trump has made it pretty clear that he wants to do to NATO what he did to the G7 -- blow it up. Trump has always been a bully; and he's not going to change. Michael Harris writes:

Some NATO members have already received a dunning letter from Trump demanding more defence spending as a percentage of GDP. If they don’t hop to it, the president is threatening to reconsider U.S. troop deployments abroad.
In other words, he will take his soldiers from places like Germany, where they have been stationed for decades, and go home.
Would he actually do it? You betcha and at the drop of a tweet. This is the man who has circled the wagons around America at every opportunity on the international stage. He’s shunned the Paris Climate Accord, the UN Human Rights Commission, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Iran nuclear deal. He recently said NATO was as bad as NAFTA, which of course he’s also thinking tearing up.

So, to keep the alliance together, should Trump be placated?  That response would be catastrophic. In the end, there's always only been one way to deal with a bully. And that's the way NATO should deal with Trump:

The other approach to Trump would be to treat him as the bully and psychopathic liar that he is. For those who mistake the office for the man, who confuse the presidency with Trump, this is seen as irresponsible schoolyard talk.
But the office never sanctifies the man, at least not in a democracy. Occasionally, there is wisdom in the schoolyard, and nothing but cowardice in fake displays of diplomatic normality.
For NATO to rein in Trump, it means taking a page out of Trudeau’s book in the wake of the president’s G7 shenanigans. Just as the PM said of Canadians, NATO should make clear that its members can’t be pushed around — no matter who is doing the pushing.
Have a conversation about the financial arrangements of the alliance, to be sure. But don’t bow and scrape to the bully’s demands, because with this guy, you may never get off your knees again.
Psychologists would call standing up to Trump creating new, healthy boundaries for the relationship. The message is simple enough: the U.S. is powerful, but not all-powerful. Yes it’s a great country, but there’s a limit to American exceptionalism.
The new normal can’t be one member of NATO dictating terms to all the others. The foundation of the relationship with Trump must be that no one in the room is intimidated by his belligerence or brainlessly starry-eyed over the office he holds.

Such an approach will not humble Trump. But it will leave him out in the cold -- where he belongs.

Image: JSTOR Daily


the salamander said...

.. I read that the USA has military.. and hardware assets in approx 72 countries. The miliary budget is of course astonishing and insane.. (but no clean water for Flint & Puerto Rico can wait) Canada has a puny military budget.. yet contemplates the purchase of how many F-35's ? And the bloated service costs per hour of flying.. What are we thinking.. that we could or should engage in military adventurism? Especially when the corrupt GOP money grubbers & desperate thugs like Trump are experimenting in that many sovereign countries. Meanwhile, we get a taste of nazis with open carry weapons tramping from their posturing parades & thuggery, off to fast food joints for fries and burgers.. stacking AR-15's on the booth or banquet seating.. or in the bars. We are witnessing Animal Farm come to life.. or is it Clockwork Orange?

At the same time, Trump is peeling back every sensible aspect of Environmental legislation.. because Obama.. and because they are long ago captured by Big Energy.. who has also invaded all level of education. Need a favorable 'Study' re coal or fracking or moving into the National Parks ? No prob.. coming right up. So where is the money going? Is it like Canada and Alberta ? Does the majority of the money just disappear offshore? Mining waste, liquid or solid can now be dumped in about any waterway.. reminds me of Stephen Harper who demolished our Environmental legislations.. and ignored our lands, waters, habitat and species.. and Harper declared Canada would become an arms manufacturer & export superpower.. I don't recall that 'election promise'

So we are still stuck & being mugged.. as is the USA, by guerilla fighters in Afghanistan.. and who knows where else. Africa for sure, South America. Probably where there are resources to be stripped from sovereign countries, and military corruption, bribery, weaponry and propaganda are a cheap solution to booting indigenous peoples off their land, bulldozing their homes.. and telling them, to hit the road.. move to the cities. Nothing like a few armored 8 wheel Canadian 'just jeeps' or 'just transports' per Trudeau and Harper.. with turret mounted rocket launchers and 50 mm machine guns to to encourage the exodus

We can either help feed and irrigate the world
or we can assist in its destruction
Maybe F-35's can airdrop wheat, corn, irrigation systems & fresh water ?
The world is in drought mode.. famine, disease.. extreme poverty
And is hardly short of war zones or ethnic cleansing

The Mound of Sound said...

Close Ramstein. It's the hub of US military power in Europe. It's where American transports laden with troops and supplies for the Pentagon's PermaWar in South Asia and the Middle East shuttle. It also houses the critical care hospital where America's wounded are taken.

America has subverted NATO long enough, cajoling it into allowing some pretty sketchy and potentially unreliable eastern European nations into its ranks. NATO, like the EU itself, dropped its dress code. A big mistake. This is the "in it for themselves" brigade, many of them undemocratic and authoritarian, that paved Bush/Cheney's path to Russia's doorstep.

NATO and the EU have been dragged down by too many under-performing subsidiaries, some of which were "poor fits" from the outset. Culling the roster might assist both to rebuild their health.

Owen Gray said...

You're right about the stark choice we face, sal. We can either feed and irrigate the world or we can destroy it. At the moment, we appear to be intent on doing ourselves in.

Owen Gray said...

A few less American military bases around the world would be a good thing, Mound. After all, the price for keeping them is financial support for the military industrial complex. And, one of these days, Trump will need the allies he's spurned.

John B. said...

NATO considerations aside, I've thought for a long time that Canada should re-evaluate what seems to have become its attitude on defence spending, accepting the possibility that increases might often be appropriate instead of treating the DND as the first place to cut in times of official austerity, but now I don't think we should do it until after Trump is gone.

While we're at it, let's take a long public look at the accounting practices that Canada has employed in consideration of its participation in UN operations.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, John. We need to take a good long look at our defence policies. That said, we must not let Trump dictate what they should be.