Thursday, May 25, 2017

Trump and Article V

Lots of reports today about Europeans hoping that Trump "endorses Article V."  What does this mean?  Damned if I know.  Sure, I know what Article V is: an attack on one member will be treated as an attack on all .... and each will respond as each deems necessary.  There is no automaticity to Article V.  The alliance must reach consensus that an attack has happened--and there is no guarantee of that (does a cyber-attack count? Does an attack on Turkey count?).  And then countries can choose to give a lot or a little or nothing to the fight.  The second part is the topic of the Dave and Steve NATO book.

As I have written before, Trump as President challenges NATO in two key ways: that the US could block consensus after an attack so that NATO can't invoke article; or the US lets the alliance invoke article V but then the US commits nothing or little to the allied response.

And this is the thing: whatever Trump says today is meaningless.  How so?  Trump himself has said he stands by nothing he says.  His word is not his bond.  He has no credibility.  He likes to tell people want they want to hear when he is with them, and then backtracks later on.  His Uncertainty Engine operates in high gear when it comes to these visits and to making commitments.

I get it that the Europeans want some assurance that Trump is not as awful as they think he is.  Guess what?  He is.  He may say that the US will defend its allies, but how does anyone know that he would follow through?  Especially when he keeps getting NATO wrong--that the burden sharing problem is not of money owed to the US but of money that countries need to spend on their own armed forces.

So, I guess I will be tweeting repeatedly today that the focus on Trump uttering the magic words is about as misplaced as one can imagine.  Or maybe I will just be yelling FFS at my computer.

1 comment:

Phil O. said...

"And this is the thing: whatever Trump says today is meaningless." So depressing and so true.

The postwar order that made Americans and our allies mostly rich and mostly stable is being pulled apart like a game of Jenga played by a 2 year old.