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article imageOp-Ed: US to leave NATO in if Trump re-elected? Dumb as it gets.

By Paul Wallis     Sep 8, 2020 in World
Berlin - Noises have been coming from the administration regarding a United States exit from NATO. It’s not a good idea, and strategic relationships could be seriously damaged. Is it a real possibility?
Trump is best known for undoing things whether they need undoing or not. Credible information suggests that his frequent references to leaving NATO is another of those things. Apparently this is another of those “October surprises” being flagged by his campaign, too.
Let’s get all the raccoons in a circle holding candles and examine this proposed imbecility in more detail. Trump is also famous for his endless war with US intelligence services. He doesn't listen to experts on any subject. That adds quite a bit of credibility to the exit from NATO theory. Other factors, notably the fact that NATO is a military alliance which traditionally sees Russia as a threat, and Trump’s total inaction on all things Russian, add some weight. The total silence on the supposed Russian bounties for killing US troops, for example, is one of those things.
NATO
NATO
, AFP
Ignorance is weakness
Trump’s various assertions about NATO members are invariably totally wrong. His allegations about Germany “not paying its way” are totally incorrect in multiple forms. Germany is the default mainland Europe fulcrum for everything from weapons systems to parts and services.
Trump also noted that Germany pays Russia billions for oil and gas, so what use is NATO? What, are the Russians supposed to give Germany gas and oil for nothing? These are totally separate issues.
Add to this the statement that “The US is paying for Europe’s protection”, which is totally misleading. Much of NATO is equipped with German or French weapons. British weapon systems are also often included. Italian weapons are also part of the mix. The US is largely paying for its own forces which are in Europe as part of the agreement.
These forces also occupy European spaces. The value of those spaces could also be assessed in the billions as “contributions”. Bleating about costs is simply absurd in any modern military framework. Military forces cost money. Get over it.
In any possible context, Trump’s statements simply do not stack up. The NATO dollars are spent for a purpose, not as some half-witted accountancy exercise.
The strategic issues
The strategic theory is that Europe provides a forward base against Russian or other aggression. This forward position is not on US soil, as a blocking position and an obvious benefit to the US in both distance and as a staging area for operations. This is military no-brainer stuff. Trump is totally out of his depth here. His total lack of any sort of military experience on any level is pretty obvious.
The US presence in Europe dates back to the end of the Second World War. NATO was a product of the Cold War against a Soviet threat. Decades later, the political positions are similar.
The Russian military is nowhere near the size of the Soviet, but it’s big enough to attack Europe - To a point, and no further. It’s also nowhere near as technically inferior as the old Soviet military. It’d be able to defend its own territory well, but its external powers are constrained considerably.
Russia’s other involvements, notably Syria and Ukraine, are other issues. The Ukraine is still in the grips of an on/off war with Russian-backed elements. The Crimea was lost and reverted to Russia from the Ukraine. In Syria, Russia has taken on a major commitment for political reasons.
It doesn’t necessarily follow that Putin is even interested in an actual war with anyone. (Prior issues indicate that he’s more inclined to indirect moves through third parties than using Russian assets at all. That’s another caveat on Russian military operations which should mean something to someone.) A position of superiority, nominal or actual, would probably be sufficient.
From the Russian perspective, the presence of a US-backed alliance on the doorstep has always been a sore point. However – Trump’s disruption of NATO would be seen as a positive for Russia, on whatever spurious basis.
What if the US does leave NATO?
The dislocation of a US exit would be huge, but definitely not the end of NATO. NATO would simply have to upgrade its own assets, a tough process, but doable, presumably with much cursing. NATO systems are benchmarks for a reason, and if required, France, Germany, the UK and Italy can fill the gaps to some extent.
More damaging would be the implicit breaking of alliances with member states. Trump’s vacillating, often circular diplomacy tends to go nowhere very slowly. That hasn’t gone down well in Europe, and seeing less of it may be a positive for NATO members.
It might be the end of a good working relationship with the EU, too. Tariffs, various remarks, and the pre-Trump hostility of some US conservatives to the EU have been festering away for years. Until now, Europe and the US had a lot of common ground, however, and a break with NATO could be the last straw, escalating other issues with the US. A US trade war with the EU would be a lousy outcome for the world.
The longer view
Many US allies take the long view:
1. Trump and his idiot circus will be gone in at most 4 years.
2. Whatever mistakes can be undone easily enough.
3. They can wait until US foreign policy gets back to some sort of objectivity.
4. The US military, that somewhat noticeable thing, was the major architect of the core European strategy. Nothing much has changed except Trump’s mind. It’s unlikely the US military will have a totally different view of Europe in the next 50 years, let alone 4 years.
5. The end of Trump will also be the end of the holiday for Russia. It’s very unlikely any future US administration would be so utterly lax and ineffectual.
6. For the record - It doesn’t follow that relations with Europe and Russia will always be at gunpoint, either. Times will change. The fact that good ‘ol middle class Europe is hardly likely to attack Russia might even be recognised at some point. A US exit might defuse the tensions, perhaps? In which case, the US has lost multiple allies, for no reason at all.
Whether the US commits to four more wasted years or not this November, the world will go on. Trump or no Trump, facts don’t budge. Europe will survive, with or without input from someone who makes a point of getting everything wrong.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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