Donald Trump is right. Nato is a costly white elephant, by Simon Jenkins

NATO was created to counter the threat of a Soviet invasion. The Soviet Union is no more, and the threat from a Russian invasion is scant. So why do we still have NATO? From Simon Jenkins at

Donald Trump is a pig, a liar, a woman-hater, a racist, a monster of bombast – and did I mention a disrupter and total bastard as well? Does that feel better? Comment on the current US president seems to require a wallow in the pit of competitive contempt. But it just plays his game.

I regard Trump as an aberration, a temporary trauma afflicting US politics. He honours the thesis of the historian Arthur Schlesinger, that America’s constitution often drives the republic to the abyss, only to drag it back again. But even monsters can ask the occasional good question. Thus Trump this week on Nato, a body so mired in platitude and waffle it has lost sight of its true purpose. Trump wants to know what Europe really regards as its defence policy, for he thinks it takes America for a ride. Nato was founded in 1949 in response to Stalin’s blockade of Berlin. It was meant to “keep the Soviet Union out, the Americans in, and the Germans down”. Since then, it has welcomed the American nuclear shield, at vast cost to America. Otherwise, its only military achievements have been the breakup of Yugoslavia and the loss of a squalid 17-year war in Afghanistan. Neither has anything to do with the North Atlantic. Nothing better symbolised this than Theresa May’s bizarre gift to Trump this week of 450 British troops for Kabul.

Nato was about deterring an attack on Europe from Russia. In 1945, the west agreed the Potsdam settlement, accepting the Soviets’ “sphere of influence” over eastern Europe. Thus when Russia invaded Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968, there was no question of Nato, or Europe, retaliating. The iron curtain was iron.

Come 1989 and the collapse of Potsdam Europe, Nato did not approach a broken Russia to agree some new settlement. It did the opposite. To protests from Russia’s weakened leader, Boris Yeltsin, it gathered former Warsaw Pact states under its wing and advanced its border east towards Russia. It embraced Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, then the Baltic states, Romania and Bulgaria. It was like Khrushchev stationing missiles in Cuba. Only Germany counselled caution.

To continue reading: Donald Trump is right. Nato is a costly white elephant


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