Trump’s Criticism of NATO Ignores the Real Questions, by Jonathan Marshall

There are many reasons to question NATO besides the US footing most of its bills. From Jonathan Marshall at

The usual NATO summit begins and ends with U.S. and European leaders issuing platitudes about the unbreakable bonds between Western democracies. The two-day summit that began Wednesday is not the usual NATO summit. President Donald Trump came to Brussels armed with a barrage of insults and Twitter blasts against his ostensible allies.

He gave a public tongue-lashing to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, saying it was unfair for the U.S. to pay the most for protecting Europe while Germany agreed to a new pipeline to import natural gas from Russia. “Germany, as far as I’m concerned, is captive to Russia,” Trump said. “Germany is totally controlled by Russia.” But Germany turned to Russia after the Trump administration threatened sanctions on Europeans who buy Iranian natural gas. The U.S. also wants to sell more expensive natural gas to Germany.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel responded bluntly to Trump. “I’ve experienced myself a part of Germany controlled by the Soviet Union,” she told reporters, “and I’m very happy today that we are united in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany and can thus say that we can determine our own policies and make our own decisions and that’s very good.”

Trump set the stage for his trademark political brawl at a recent rally in North Dakota, where he declared, “Sometimes our worst enemies are our so-called friends or allies, right?” On the same Western swing, he he told supporters in Montana that Europe “kills us with NATO.” As he left the White House for Europe, the President further trolled America’s traditional allies, noting that between NATO, the UK, and Putin—the three subjects of his visit—“Putin may be the easiest of them all. Who would think?”

Though he has for decades complained that other countries have been taking advantage of the U.S., the key to understanding Trump’s performance toward NATO may be recognizing that it is just that, a performance intended not for European leaders, but his home political base.

Trump’s supporters cheer his macho, nationalist rhetoric. His “politically incorrect” rejection of traditional diplomatic language tells them that he’s the real deal—even as his actual military and security policies remain mostly mainstream. His bullying attitude reaffirms his commitment to the so-called Trump Doctrine: “We’re America, Bitch.”

To continue reading: Trump’s Criticism of NATO Ignores the Real Questions


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