When Half-Truths Become One Lie: NATO, CATO, & Trump

On 12 August 2016, the CATO At Liberty blog posted an article written by Doug Bandow entitled, Why Should America Defend Europeans Who Don’t Defend Themselves? Bandow addressed the following Trump controversial comments of the day which were part of a conversation with David E Sanger from The New York Times:

SANGER: I was just in the Baltic States. They are very concerned obviously about this new Russian activism, they are seeing submarines off their coasts, they are seeing airplanes they haven’t seen since the Cold War coming, bombers doing test runs. If Russia came over the border into Estonia or Latvia, Lithuania, places that Americans don’t think about all that often, would you come to their immediate military aid?

TRUMP: I don’t want to tell you what I’d do because I don’t want Putin to know what I’d do. I have a serious chance of becoming president and I’m not like Obama, that every time they send some troops into Iraq or anyplace else, he has a news conference to announce it.

SANGER: They are NATO members, and we are treaty-obligated ——

TRUMP: We have many NATO members that aren’t paying their bills.

SANGER: That’s true, but we are treaty-obligated under NATO, forget the bills part.

TRUMP: You can’t forget the bills. They have an obligation to make payments. Many NATO nations are not making payments, are not making what they’re supposed to make. That’s a big thing. You can’t say forget that.

SANGER: My point here is, Can the members of NATO, including the new members in the Baltics, count on the United States to come to their military aid if they were attacked by Russia? And count on us fulfilling our obligations ——

TRUMP: Have they fulfilled their obligations to us? If they fulfill their obligations to us, the answer is yes.

Bandow begins his post with a very relevant point;

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization made sense when created in 1949. War-ravaged Western Europe faced an aggressive Soviet Union. The American defense shield allowed Washington’s allies to recover and rebuild.

Nearly seven decades later the alliance has become a means rather than an end. The world has changed, yet Washington continues to guarantee the security of its 27 (soon to be 28) NATO allies (as well as Japan, South Korea, and others). Yet only four European nations bother to devote even two percent of GDP to the military, barely half America’s level.

NATO has indeed become a ‘means’ – but Bandow fails to grasp the importance of this point. He continues:

Alas, Trump fundamentally misperceives the real problem. As I argue on Forbes: “The issue is not burden-sharing, getting the Europeans to do more. It is burden-shedding, turning responsibility over to the Europeans. There no longer is any geopolitical justification for America to defend Europe.”

Bandow ends his piece with:

The U.S. should turn over defense responsibility for Europe to Europe.

The fact is that both Trump and Bandow ‘misperceive’ the problem – and woefully so. The European nations don’t ‘pay their bills’ because in all actuality it’s the U.S. that does indeed owe the greatest share. Let’s call it ‘rent’ for all the bases and missile sites occupied by the American empire. As a matter of fact, it could be argued that the U.S. presence in Europe exposes more danger to those nations than security.

In his insightful and well researched 2009 book, Full Spectrum Dominance, author F. William Engdahl brilliantly describes the true nature of ‘the problem’ of NATO and the United States.

The collapse of the Soviet Union brought jubilation everywhere, with the exception of the White House where, initially, President George H. W. Bush reacted with panic. Perhaps he was unsure how the United States would continue to justify its huge arms spending and its massive intelligence apparatus – ranging from the CIA to the NSA to the Defense Intelligence Agency and beyond – without a Soviet foe. George H.W. Bush was a product and a shaper of the Cold War National Security State. His world was one of ‘enemy image,’ espionage, and secrecy, where people often sidestepped the US Constitution when ‘national security’ was involved. In its own peculiar way it was a state within the state, a world every bit as centrally run and controlled as the Soviet Union had been, only with private multinational defense and energy conglomerates and their organizations of coordination in place of the Soviet Politburo. Its military contracts linked every part of the economy of the United States to the future of that permanent war machine.

For those segments of the US establishment whose power had grown exponentially through the expansion of the post World War II national security state, the end of the Cold War meant the loss of their reason for existing. As the sole hegemonic power remaining after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States was faced with two possible ways of dealing with the new Russian geopolitical reality.

It could have cautiously but clearly signaled the opening of a new era of political and economic cooperation with its shattered and economically devastated former Cold War foe.

The West, led by the United States, might have encouraged mutual de-escalation of the Cold War nuclear balance of terror and the conversion of industry-West as well as East-into civilian enterprises to rebuild civilian infrastructure and repair impoverished cities. The United States had the option of gradually dismantling NATO just as Russia had dissolved the Warsaw Pact, and furthering a climate of mutual economic cooperation that could turn Eurasia into one of the world’s most prosperous and thriving economic zones.

Yet Washington chose another path to deal with the end of the Cold War. The path could be understood only from the inner logic of its global agenda-a geopolitical agenda. The sole remaining Superpower chose stealth, deception, lies and wars to attempt to control the Eurasian Heartland-its only potential rival as an economic region-by military force.

Kept secret from most Americans, by George H.W. Bush, and by his friend and de facto protegé, Democratic President Bill Clinton, was the reality that for the faction that controlled the Pentagon-the military defense industry, its many sub-contractors, and the giant oil and oil services companies such as Halliburton-the Cold War never ended.

The ‘new’ Cold War assumed various disguises and deceptive tactics until September 11, 2001. Those events empowered an American President to declare permanent war against an enemy who was everywhere and nowhere, who allegedly threatened the American way of life, justifying laws that destroyed that way of life in the name of the new worldwide War on Terror. To put it crassly, Osama bin Laden was the answer to a Pentagon prayer in September 2001.

Engdahl goes on to illustrate how Europe via NATO has become the center of operations for U.S. hegemony and a launching pad for U.S. operations in Eurasia and the Middle East. The placement of nuclear missiles on Russia’s doorstep in the Balkans can only be perceived as provocative to Russia, yet the U.S. claims that they are there as a potential security response from Middle Eastern threats. Seriously?

A number of analysts suggest that the world faces a greater threat of nuclear war today than at any time during the Cold War era due to the antagonistic U.S. use of European territories – under the umbrella of NATO ‘defense’.

A thought nugget:

Donald Trump likes to boast that he is not an ‘establishment’ politician. If his understanding of NATO and U.S. policy in Europe is limited to his expressed opinion regarding the issue, he truly is ‘out of the loop’. Breathtakingly so. As a matter of fact, he’s living in a geo-political bubble. If it’s genuine, I predict that there is no way in hell he will become president of the United States. The ‘powers that be’ don’t have the time or patience to train a greenhorn when it comes to something this big.

Of course, he can just be disingenuous fully knowing and understanding the reality of the World Order hegemonic agenda and is stringing folks along – if that is so, he’s one heck of an actor in the role of the incredibly naive and sheltered billionaire.

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