About Trump’s explosion at Frau Merkel’s Germany during the NATO summit, and his evisceration of Teresa May’s Clayton Brexit you can say this : It is long past time somebody carried a strong voice into the Kingdoms of Softly Softly.
America pays more for NATO, an alliance created 69 years ago to defend Europe, than do the Europeans. And as Europe free-rides off their defense effort, the EU runs trade surpluses at US expense that exceed $100 billion a year.
To Trump, and not only to him, the US are being used, straight out gouged, by rich nations they defend, while they skimp on their own defense.
At Brussels, Trump had a new beef with the Germans, though similar problems date back to the Reagan era. Now we see the Germans, Trump raged, whom we are protecting from Russia, collaborating with Russia and deepening their dependence on Russian natural gas by jointly building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline under the Baltic Sea.
When completed, this pipeline will leave Germany and Europe even more deeply reliant on Russia for their energy needs.
To Trump, this makes no sense. While he pays the lion’s share of the cost of Germany’s defense, Germany, he said in Brussels, is becoming “a captive of Russia.”
Impolitic? Undiplomatic? Perhaps. But is Trump wrong? While much of what he says enrages Western elites, does not much of it need saying?
Germany spends 1.2 percent of its gross domestic product on defense, while the U.S. spends 3.5 percent. Why? And defence analysts are wondering where that 1.2% goes. Half their blasted tanks won’t run.
Why — nearly three decades after the end of the Cold War, the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, the crackup of the Soviet Union and the overthrow of the Communist dictatorship in Moscow — is the US still defending European nations that collectively have 10 times the GDP of Vladimir Putin’s Russia?
Before departing Brussels, Trump upped the ante on the allies, urging that all NATO nations raise the share of their GDPs that they devote to defense to 4 percent.
Brussels may dismiss this as typical Trumpian bluster, but Trump is not bluffing. He is visibly losing patience. His body language says that.
Though American leaders since John Foster Dulles in the 1950s have called for a greater defense effort from our allies, if the Europeans do not get serious this time, it could be the beginning of the end for NATO.
And not only NATO. South Korea, with an economy 40 times that of North Korea, spends 2.6 percent of its GDP on defense, while, by one estimate, North Korea spends 22 percent, the highest share on earth.
Japan, with the world’s third-largest economy, spends an even smaller share of its GDP on defense than Germany, 0.9 percent. Of course their stuff works.
Thus, though Seoul and Tokyo are far more menaced by a rising China, like the Europeans, both continue to rely upon the US as they continue to run large trade surpluses with the US.
Trump says we send troops and pay billions for their defense, while they restrict our access to their markets and focus on capturing U.S. markets from American producers.
America’s situation is unsustainable economically and politically, and it’s transparently intolerable to Trump, a man who is not a turn-the-other-cheek sort of guy.
A frustrated Trump has already hinted he may accept Russia’s annexation of Crimea as he accepted Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem.
And he is earnest about reducing the US massive trade deficits in goods that have been bleeding jobs, plants, equipment, capital and technology abroad.
The latest tariffs Trump has proposed, on $200 billion worth of Chinese-made goods, would raise the price of 40 percent of China’s exports to the U.S. and begin to shrink the $375 billion trade surplus Beijing ran in one year – 2017.
Trump said upon departing Brussels he had won new commitments to raise European contributions to NATO. But Emmanuel Macron of France seemed to contradict him. The commitments made before the summit, for all NATO nations to reach 2 percent of GDP for defense by 2024, said Macron, stand, and no new commitments were made. Nobody seemed to mention Macron. But even if he is right, the US will draw down from nearly 4% to theirs – 2%.
One idea Trump floated last week was the threat of a drawdown of the 35,000 U.S. troops in Germany. But would this really rattle the Germans?
A new poll shows that a plurality of Germans favor a drawdown of U.S. troops, and only 15 percent believe that Germany should raise its defense spending to 2 percent of GDP.
While Trump’s pressure on NATO to contribute more is popular here, apparently Merkel’s resistance comports with German opinion.
Since exiting the Iranian nuclear deal, President Trump has demanded that our European allies join the U.S. in reimposing sanctions. Now he is demanding that the Europeans contribute more to defense.
What does he do if they defy him? More than likely, they will be the first to find out.
As regards Theresa May he was not as bellicose, but he was there to talk trade and he knows that May’s left foot in, left foot out approach is bad for the US in trade terms. So he made a really cunning statement when asked about Brexit –
“Well, he said, “It’s not what they voted for.”
Ain’t that the truth? Isn’t that what the millions are screaming about? Does it not sum her attitude up?
Wait till the journos put that remark to May, “President Trump says your Brexit is not what they voted for.” The only thing she can do in reply is stutter.
Truth has that effect sometimes. It chokes the vocal cords and any tortured reply is laughed at.