It is no secret that Trump does not like NATO in the least…..he is due in Europe to meet with NATO countries and he has sent a letter to a few of them asking for cash……
President Trump heads to Belgium next week for a NATO summit, and he has set the tone in advance with what the New York Times calls “sharply worded” letters to leaders of other member nations. The gist: Trump asserts that they’re not paying their fair share for defense, adding that the US is tired of picking up the slack and might rethink its role in alliance. Deutsche Welle reports that Trump sent letters to at least eight leaders, but the Times says it could be a dozen. It quotes from a particularly pointed one to Germany’s Angela Merkel. “The United States continues to devote more resources to the defense of Europe when the Continent’s economy, including Germany’s, are doing well and security challenges abound,” he writes. “This is no longer sustainable for us.”
Trump adds that it will “become increasingly difficult to justify to American citizens why some countries do not share NATO’s collective security burden while American soldiers continue to sacrifice their lives overseas or come home gravely wounded.” Trump has long made clear he dislikes NATO, though he previously reversed his position that it was “obsolete.” Specifically, the US asserts that other nations are not meeting a commitment to devote 2% of their GDP to national defense, reports CNN. Belgian leader Charles Michel says he is “not very impressed” with Trump’s letter, and the Times collects a quote from a former Pentagon official: “Trump still seems to think that NATO is like a club that you owe dues to, or some sort of protection racket where the US is doing all the work protecting all these deadbeat Europeans.”
Speaking of letters an ambassador has sent a letter of resignation….
The United States embassy in Estonia has a brand new opening at the top, and the now-former ambassador, James Melville, went out swinging at President Trump, reports the Washington Post. “The honorable course is to resign,” Melville wrote Friday on Facebook. “For the President to say the [European Union] was ‘set up to take advantage of the United States, to attack our piggy bank,’ or that ‘NATO is as bad as NAFTA’ is not only factually wrong, but proves to me that it’s time to go.” Estonia, the Post notes, sits on the Russian border, and Melville’s resignation comes as Trump indicates he’s rethinking NATO protections for such countries and ahead of his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Having served under six presidents and 11 secretaries of state, I never really thought it would reach that point for me,” Melville wrote.
Trump seems to forget that many of the NATO nations when asked came to the assistance of the US in a wide array of scenarios…..from Afghanistan to Iraq to African problems……..where will these allies be when asked in a time of need?
True, the Trump administration continues to emit a range of conflicting signals about alliances. Within the pages of the National Security Strategy (PDF) and the unclassified summary of the National Defense Strategy (PDF)—the formal documents underpinning declaratory strategy—allies are seen as positive contributors to U.S. security. Yes, the documents continue to expound Trump’s point about the need for allies to carry more of the weight. See, for example, page 28 of the NSS: ‘We need our allies … to modernize, acquire necessary capabilities, improve readiness, expand the size of their forces, and affirm the political will to win.’
Putin will play a game and will offer to give some concessions…..
A senior Kremlin official tells Bloomberg that Vladimir Putin is preparing to offer significant concessions to President Trump at their July 16 summit in Helsinki, Finland in the hopes of beginning to repair strained relations between Russia and the United States. Chief among them, according to the official, is a discussion on Iran’s role in Syria – an issue that Moscow is simultaneously coordinating with Tehran.
If Trump weakens NATO how would Russia test its strength?
At Poland’s northeast border there’s only a narrow strip of inland border connecting it to NATO members Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. It’s called the Suwalki Corridor and it has long been an object of concern for Western military leaders.
To the west sits a unique spot Russian territory, the exclave of Kaliningrad, a key military port on the Baltic Sea. To the east is Belarus, a key Russian military ally. On the eve of this week’s NATO Summit, the former commanding general of U.S. Army Europe is issuing a new warning: cutting off that corridor could be how Russian President Vladimir Putin cuts off the Baltic states from the rest of NATO, possibly without firing a shot.
The meetings to come will test the alliances that the US has depended on for decades….will they be there when needed again?
There is so much more and I will revisit this subject soon…..and report on “what is what” (love that saying)……