By Chris Rossini
The backbone of libertarianism is peace and non-aggression. Donald Trump may not be a non-interventionist when it comes to foreign policy (which is unfortunate) but can there be some common ground when it comes to his stance on NATO? It is a bit of a challenge because Trump's position is fluid. But maybe there is a sliver of hope to move America in the right direction in this area.
Just as a refresher, NATO was created during the Cold War to counter Soviet Russia. It was claimed to be an organization that collectively protected Europe from attack. As we all know, the Cold War is long gone, but lo-and-behold NATO is still around. Bureaucrats never voluntarily go away. Always remember that. They either have to be forced out because of financial conditions or public pressure. If neither of the two occur, bureaucrats will stay right where they are and they'll continue to expand their power.
After the Cold War, promises were made to the Russians that NATO would not expand any closer to Russia's borders. Alas, those promises was broken. Here's another thing to remember: never trust bureaucrats to keep their promises either.
NATO is now knocking on Russia's door and is even holding massive military exercises right on the border! It seems reasonable to assume that Russia would find such moves to be very dangerous and provocative.
To paraphrase Jacob Hornberger: "Imagine if Russia were to absorb Cuba, Venezuela, Chile, and Mexico, with aims of installing Russian military bases on Mexico’s border with the United States." It would be reasonable to assume that Americans and American officials would view such moves as very provocative.
If there's one thing that America's failed foreign policy in the Middle East teaches us it's that if you swat at hornets nests long enough and hard enough, eventually you're going to get stung. Well, the same idea must be applied to Russia. Do we really need to risk being stung by a nuclear power?
So from a libertarian and non-interventionist standpoint, the provocative actions taken by NATO must be peeled back. Ideally, NATO would be disbanded and rendered into the history books like The Warsaw Pact. That should have happened after the Cold War ended. But since the ideal is not in the cards at the moment, the next best thing is to pull back the provocations.
Does Trump offer anything of value in this regard? Let's look at some of his statements.
Trump has said of NATO:
"I think it’s proven not to work, and we have a different country than we did then. We have $19 trillion in debt. We’re sitting, probably, on a bubble...We certainly can’t afford to do this anymore. NATO is costing us a fortune..."
This is something that Ron Paul has warned about. Our government is literally running on fumes financially. It's just not feasible to maintain foreign entanglements around the world. If the U.S. government doesn't quit it voluntarily, it'll be forced to quit because of a serious financial crisis.
At a later date, Trump's tune changed for the worse:
So NATO is something that at the time was excellent. Today, it has to be changed. It has to be changed to include terror.
This is the challenge with Trump. The fluidity of his position gives you no way to know where he really stands. He's right to say that NATO has "proven not to work" and that "we certainly can't afford to do this anymore." However tossing those ideas aside in favor of "changing" NATO to "include terror" is a horrendous idea!
Most recently, Trump gave an interview to the New York Times. Here are the latest thoughts on NATO:
If we cannot be properly reimbursed for the tremendous cost of our military protecting other countries, and in many cases the countries I’m talking about are extremely rich...but if we cannot make a deal...I would be absolutely prepared to tell those countries, “Congratulations, you will be defending yourself.”
While Trump's rebellious tone can be viewed positively (after all, establishment neocons view NATO as an absolute that must never be questioned) even if other countries ponied up more money, it doesn't make NATO any less aggressive, any less of a failure, and it surely doesn't make us any safer.
Finally, Trump made a statement that would give neocons a panic attack:
"I would love to have a good relationship where Russia and I, instead of, and us, and the U.S., instead of fighting each other we got along. It would be wonderful if we had good relationships with Russia so that we don’t have to go through all of the drama."
So trying to read Trump's true intentions with NATO is equivalent to trying to nail Jello to a wall. At times, there appears to be an opening for some progress. At others times, it looks like the status quo (or worse) are in the cards.
This has the feeling of a Trump casino.
Will the roulette wheel land on red or black?
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