An extraordinarily strange series of circumstances has befallen the once solid NATO alliance, and at the present moment in time, there are even odds that the organization itself may soon cease to exist. Today’s events during the second day of the NATO summit in Brussels has added fuel to the fire. There has been mixed reporting, and FRN will effectively sort the wheat from the chaff.
As FRN has been covering, the EU and US have a widening rift around any number of issues. The real dynamic at play is that Trump’s moves, regardless of the ongoing debates over his intentions, are pushing the EU closer to China and Russia. At the same time, analysts have for years argued that such a grand Eurasian sphere spanning from Iberia to Siberia would be an eventuality at any rate. Therefore, it is questionable whether Trump’s moves are causal, or reflective, (or somewhere in between) of a larger and broader dynamic which has been creeping under way for any number of years now.
Meanwhile, EU leaders are increasingly expressing a desire for a loosening of sanction against Russia. The net, if sometimes hidden, higher-costs of energy to Europe from Russia are a problematic outgrowth of US backed EU sanctions on Russia. This actually works against Europe’s economy.
Analyzing what Trump means by what he says, has become something of a soft-science in itself. It is difficult to determine when Trump is saying the opposite of what he means, or when he’s making specific statements for the expressed purpose of having his interlocutor make the very point which he himself actually wants to make.
So today in answering press conference questions Trump was pressed several times about if he can pull the US out altogether from NATO absent formal US Congressional approval. He seems to have dodged the question the first time, though finally reluctantly was quoted as saying ”I think I can.” When Trump uses the word ‘think’, it’s an amazing fail-safe term. If it turns out that indeed, for any number of reasons, that Trump in fact cannot use his presidential powers to withdraw the US from NATO, and if he is then pressed later by hostile journalists or politicians, who will inevitably claim that Trump said he could, then he would be right in saying that this is ”a lie”. Saying one believes they can, versus saying that one can, are of course very different claims.
According to NATO officials and diplomats, Trump has threatened other alliance members that if they did not up their own spending commitments, that the US could manage it’s own international defense commitments unilaterally. Reports from today’s meeting indicate that Trump has given NATO members until January to develop a working plan to reach the increased financial obligations to fund the alliance.
But Germany, who along with France have been leading a renewed effort to finally develop a European Army separate from NATO command structures, doesn’t seem overly concerned. While there are no doubt differences of opinion between the average German and its socio-economic and political elite, according to recent polling, Germans also want the US – under NATO auspices – to make an exit from Germany. In the eyes of a growing number of Germans, NATO bases in Germany are effectively US occupational bases.
The generally untrustworthy UK Independent, however, did apparently report accurately on this recent poll *click to enlarge* :
At the time of of this publication, Trump is en route to England where he will meet with leaders there.
Putting this all together, it allows us to untangle how the neoconservative and pro-imperialist press manage the subject. The New York Times is framing it like this:
President Trump is traveling to Britain. He says he won big spending concessions from NATO, but the French president disagrees.
• Mr. Trump said that the allies at the NATO summit meeting had agreed to his demand for a significant increase in military spending. But he offered no specifics, and President Emmanuel Macron of France refuted the claim.
• Mr. Trump signed a joint statement that largely reaffirmed existing NATO commitments, and that was at odds with some of his own statements.
• On the final day of the talks, Mr. Trump turned a heads-of-state meeting with Georgia and Ukraine into an argument about spending, prompting an emergency budget meeting.
• President Trump is on a seven-day, three-nation European trip — to Belgium, Britain and then Finland for talks with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia — that highlights the ways he has utterly transformed United States foreign policy.