April 5, 2016

Trump Targets NATO

General Dwight David Eisenhower

In 1949 General Dwight David Eisenhower said when NATO was founded, if it exists in ten years it will have been a failure. Today NATO is a large bureaucracy not a coalition of military forces. Nonetheless, this argument may be correct that it is a proper entity to fight Muslim terrorism.

[From article]
It is improbable that Trump has thought long or deeply on the subject of NATO, but he has opened a genuine debate on it. NATO, founded on April 4, 1949 by 12 countries, was a product of the Cold War mainly intended to provide collective security against the Soviet Union and its satellite countries in the Warsaw Pact. After the end of the Soviet Union this particular main objective was no longer germane but NATO increased to 28 countries.
NATO has always been dominated by the U.S., a reality leading to both foreign and domestic criticism for different reasons. The strongest expression of disapproval was by French president Charles de Gaulle. In a letter of March 7, 1966, he told President Lyndon B. Johnson that France expected to remain a party to the NATO treaty. However, because changes had occurred in international affairs since 1949, France could not agree to the existing military arrangements.
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Despite some criticism, Europeans have generally welcomed the U.S. role in NATO. However, it has troubled Americans, and Donald Trump, perhaps inadvertently, has touched on the problem.
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In all, the U.S. provides 73 per cent of NATO’s defense spending.
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Trump has raised a crucial question: is the U.S. spending on NATO worth it, and indeed is NATO relevant? In recent decades, NATO played a role in various non-North Atlantic conflicts in Afghanistan, in enforcing a no-fly zone in Bosnia in 1993, and in Libya in March 2011 when an allied coalition decided to enforce an arms embargo, to maintain a no-fly zone, and to protect civilians under attack. But NATO did not intervene in Syria,
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The U.S. is planning to increase its troop presence in Europe by 3 brigades and by stationing heavy equipment in Eastern Europe.
NATO has played a significant role in maintaining peace in Europe, but this preparation for defense against the more assertive Russia is now the wrong priority for NATO. The challenge to international order does not come from Moscow but from other parties. NATO as an organization should concentrate on two issues: defeating Islamist terrorism; and solving the growing immigration crisis.
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Islamist terrorism, by ISIS, al-Qaeda and others has made NATO relevant. It is fair criticism that NATO has been insufficiently geared to combat the upsurge in international terrorism or to help in the immigration crisis.
Among other actions, NATO is belatedly sending ships to Eastern Mediterranean to combat people smugglers, monitoring the flow of migrants and working in harmony with coast guards in Greece and Turkey. NATO is using five warships, as well as other ships, to help stem the flow of migrants to Europe by its presence in the Mediterranean and in the Aegean Sea. As a byproduct of this, the two historical foes, Greece and Turkey, are collaborating.
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NATO is not obsolete. In the fight against terrorism it can help the countries that share in common the values of democracy, free speech, and the rule of law.


April 2, 2016
Donald Trump and NATO
By Michael Curtis

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