Thursday, January 9, 2020

NATO in Iraq: More, Same, Or Less

Trump included a semi-throw away line about NATO doing more in Iraq or Mideast.  While Justin Ling argued this is something that should be done, here's why it, like fetch, ain't happening:
  1. NATO countries cannot operate without the US on the ground or in the air. The US has unique capabilities (comms), abundant capabilities (medevac helos), strong capabilities (quick reaction forces to defend/rescue allies in harm's way), and so on.  
  2. Why would any NATO member want to put their troops in harm's way after Trump endangered the existing NATO troops by launching a strike against an Iranian official without notifying said NATO countries?
  3. The NATO mission is one of training--the risk of green on blue (trainees attack trainers) is much greater now than it was two weeks ago.
  4. NATO members have domestic politics, mostly governed by coalitions, and with hard requirements to have deployment votes for stuff like this, unlike US or Canada. 
  5. The domestic politics is tougher because Trump is toxic in most countries.  Which leaders are willing to buck domestic opposition to stand next to Trump? Hungary? Sure, Orban wouldn't mind, but Hungary is also one of the crappiest allies in terms of showing up and doing heavy military lifting (the New Zealand forces in Afghanistan patrolled the Hungarian sector next door precisely because they didn't trust the Hungarians to do it themselves).   France?  Nope. Germany?  Nope. UK? Probs not.   There is a price to be paid for all of Trump's antagonizing of European countries.
  6. If Justin Trudeau allows folks to think that maybe the shooting down of the plane in Iran might just be partly due to Trump's behavior, you can be pretty sure that few allies will trust Trump on anything.
So, no, NATO reinforcement in Iraq to replace the Americans.  

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