In a recent interview for a German magazine, then President-Elect Donald Trump called NATO obsolete. Trump is absolutely correct, NATO is obsolete. Cue neocon and other interventionist heads exploding in 3, 2, 1…
Trump’s statement has caused the predictable hysteria among foreign policy interventionists that is to be expected anytime someone drifts outside the tight confines of the reigning orthodoxy, but let’s examine the issue.
NATO is the epitome of the kind of entangling alliance that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson warned us about. It is a tripwire for a potentially catastrophic conflict. Plus there’s that whole nuclear weapon’s thing. The idea that an attack on any NATO member is an attack on all is absurd on its face and the kind of thing that only a globalist stooge could believe. I’m sorry, but from the standpoint of the U.S., an attack on Latvia is not the same thing as an attack on Omaha, and any treaty arrangement that obligates us to treat them the same is foolish.
Even if you concede that NATO was necessary during the Cold War to counter an expansionistic Soviet Union, which I don’t but that’s for another article, it became obsolete the instant the Soviet Union collapsed. Unfortunately, following the fall of the Soviet Union, NATO chose to expand to include some of the old Soviet Bloc countries rather than disband. This was clearly not a defensive move. It was an attempt to expand Western (and primarily U.S.) hegemony in the face of Russian weakness.
I posted that Trump was correct about NATO being obsolete on social media and was surprised when my statement generated some significant pushback from people I usually agree with on other issues and generally consider within my “paleo” sphere. The crux of the disagreement was that I am naïve about the nature and intentions of modern Russia and Vladimir Putin. Maybe I am, maybe I’m not. I don’t have a crystal ball, but Russia is not a particularly wealth country relative to its size, and it is facing a future demographic collapse, something Putin is trying to address. In 2014 the U.S. spent $610 billion on defense compared to Russia’s $84.5 billion. It is not justified to view modern Russia as a reincarnation of the old Soviet Union regardless of how skeptically you view Russia’s intentions in Eastern Europe.
Disagreements about Russia’s intentions aside, how Russia might act in the event of NATO disbanding is not really the fundamental issue. The fundamental issue is why should the U.S. be responsible for the defense of the relatively affluent and populous nations of Europe? Last I checked the United States was made up of 50 states. The purpose of the U.S. military is to defend those 50 states, not countries on another continent a large ocean away.
I am under no delusion that Trump is committed to a doctrinaire non-interventionist foreign policy to the degree that I describe above, but his willingness to question the wisdom of our current alliances is a refreshing step in the right direction. I believe Trump sees the U.S. role in the world through the lens of our national interests instead of the lens of an ideological commitment to a U.S. led and maintained “liberal” world order which is what guides the foreign policy Establishment left, right and center. Trump’s foreign policy threatens the consensus which is why it makes all the pundits hysterical, and it is why the deep state is going to such extraordinary means to undermine his presidency.