Thursday, March 31, 2016

Churchill, Not Napoleon, Mr. Trump: NATO Is Good for the US

Lots of talk about NATO these days.  Thanks, Donald.  Yes, there is uneven burden-sharing.  Folks have only been talking about it since the mid-1960s.  Yep, that debate is as old as I am, and I am not young.  And, heap, the Dave and Steve NATO book does a fine job of discussing how hard it is to fight alongside allies.

We start with two quotes--one by Napoleon and one by Churchill about alliances.  Can you guess which one Trump is closer to?  Yes, that noted LOSER Napoleon, who was also over-compensating for having small hands.

Anyhow, yes, our NATO partners do not pay as much as we would like, with regular evergreen tweets/debates/summits about burdensharing.   But guess who showed up in Afghanistan, after the US (and not Canada/Europe) was attacked on 9/11?  Every single NATO country plus those aspiring to get into NATO plus those that just want to be friend with the US.  Even for those that did not do as much, the war was costly--in lives, in money, in political capital back home.  So, when the US needed its allies, they showed up.  Yes, there were differences about what to do and how to do it, but when the US got all distracted and sent most of its might to Iraq, who had the US's back in Afghanistan?  NATO.

We can go on and on about how NATO has been an instrument of American power, that NATO has helped make American commitments to Europe credible and thus fostering deterrence.  Notice how many European wars the US has fought since 1945?  None.  One can give credit to other organizations and such, but deterrence in the cold war was via America's credible commitment in the form of NATO.  Which is why I have been pushing for NATO bases in the Baltics--so that we don't end up fighting a war with Russia. Deterrence is far cheaper even with some free riding than the alternative.

As always, I paraphrase Churchill: that NATO is the worst form of mutilateral military cooperation except for all the others.  NATO is not perfect but it is better than coalitions of the willing (which have most of the negatives that come with alliances and few of the positives) or going along entirely. 

But, of course, it makes sense that Donald Trump has similar attitudes as Napoleon about alliances because neither could play well with others.  Oh, and both were/are losers.

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