January 29, 2020

steadfast ally

IMMEDIATE RELEASE 5 December 2019
WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND
Today’s Events in Historical Perspective
America’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932
One steadfast ally
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift
          WASHINGTON – When French President Macron called NATO “brain dead,” the brain he was talking about was U.S leadership. Donald Trump is the first president in American history to undermine the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, formed in April 1949 as a military alliance between 29 North American and European countries.
          This the greatest alliance in history is responsible for the only 70-year stretch of peace Europe has ever enjoyed. As world leaders gathered in London to celebrate NATO’s 70th, Trump did his best to disrupt any feeling of goodwill. He tangled with Macron, called Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau “two-faced,” and he held an unscheduled meeting with Turkish President Erdogan, whose brutal assault on the Kurds in Syria he had greenlighted.
          After a video went viral of Macron, Trudeau and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson having a laugh at Trump’s expense, the Biden campaign released an ad where the former vice president calls Trump “a president the world is laughing at.” Trump canceled his traditional end-of-meeting press conference and left for Washington shortly after he became aware of the mockery from the other attendees.
          Scoffing ridicule after all is far worse than an outright attack.
          His relationship with NATO has been uneasy from the start. He said early on he wouldn’t necessarily invoke Article 5 of the NATO treaty to defend one of the Baltic countries. Article 5 is best described as “one for all, all for one,” should a member nation come under attack.
          Trump continues to refuse to give a full-throated endorsement to Article 5, sowing unease and outright distrust among the member nations, and with good reason. Former national security advisor John Bolton told a private audience after being forced out of his White House job that Trump had threatened to withdraw from NATO.
          The key element with NATO is unity. If the United States leads, others follow. Without Trump’s support, U.S. leadership falters, and without U.S. leadership, there is no NATO.
          NATO was created to contain the Soviet Union/Russia, which has been trying to expand its borders going back to the Crimean War and earlier. If U.S. troops had not been in Europe after World War II, Soviet troops would have overrun the continent.
          Yet, by constantly prodding and poking at NATO, questioning its value and saying it costs too much, Trump is doing Russian President Putin’s bidding in the worst way. And Speaker Nancy Pelosi in her announcement Thursday that the House would draw up articles of impeachment repeated her admonition that with Trump, “all roads lead to Putin.”
          Putin’s goal is to divide the West, undermine NATO, and reclaim parts of the Russian empire that struggled to get out from under Soviet domination first, and now Russian domination.
          So NATO continues to exist to contain Russia as its first priority, and then to keep member nations from fighting each other. That formula worked well until Trump came along with his affinity for Russia and his disdain for America’s traditional allies. He is convinced Europe has taken advantage of the United States because European nations spend less than he thinks they should on their security and are dependent on America’s protection.
          What Trump doesn’t understand is that a peaceful Europe repays America and the world many times over, and that as a world leader, Trump needs allies if he is to confront the global challenges facing the planet. On the other hand, this president on the verge of impeachment does have one steadfast ally: Vladimir Putin.
          Douglas Cohn’s latest books are World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers) and The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency.
          Twitter:  @douglas_cohn
          © 2019 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
          Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
END WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND

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