NATO at 70: What Is It Good For?

Frank Hawkins has an excellent article at American Thinker entitled NATO in Crisis. Let’s have a look.

In 1949, with the debris of WWII still clogging German cities, Western nations led by the United States and Great Britain formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The primary purpose of the alliance was to provide a multinational shield  against Soviet aggression.

Today the alliance itself is threatened, with President Trump rightly accusing Germany and other members of not living up to their pledges to support the pact. Of the 28 members of NATO, only seven are paying the required 2% of GDP to support the alliance. The United States weighs in with a hefty 3.39% while Germany, the second largest economy in the alliance, is only contributing 1.36%.

After being called out by Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel promised that Germany would begin increasing its defense contributions reaching an initial plateau of 1.5% by 2024.

But it’s not working out that way. German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz threw the target into doubt with the new German federal budget that suggests their percentage is actually going to shrink to 1.23%.  What’s going on?

In a recent issue of Foreign Affairs, Robert Kagan addressed the issue in an article titled, “The New German Question, What Happens When Europe Comes Apart?

Kagan’s article opens as a thoughtful overview until it becomes obvious he’s just another ideological #NeverTrumper. He covers the grand sweep of German history and the country’s historic position in Europe before dissolving into shameless Trump bashing.

There has always been something ironic about the American complaint that Europeans don’t spend enough on defense. They don’t because the world seems relatively peaceful and secure to them. When the world is no longer peaceful and secure, they probably will rearm, but not in ways that will benefit Americans. If one were devising a formula to drive Europe and Germany back to some new version of their past, one could hardly do a better job than what U.S. President Donald Trump is doing now.

Trump bashing seems a bit strong here to me. Kagan plainly doesn’t like what he sees Trump doing, but his description of it is not that different than mine. Nor, does Kagan appear to like Trump, but few establishment Europeans do. I pretty much agree with Trump, however, I see little point anymore for NATO, unless it is there as a check on the EU, which is increasingly plausible. The main trouble with that is that it is the Americans v. everyone and his Slavic cousin. Don’t forget it was Leonid Brezhnev who commented in the 1990s that it was like the Soviet Union had relocated to Brussels.

From where I sit (and I think Trumps sees it similarly) the main threat to freedom today in Europe is the European Union, itself.

The basic problem in western Europe is that Germany tends to dominate it the way the US does North America. While the US is a reasonable partner and neighbor, and especially Canada has a reasonably similar background, none of that is true with regards to Germany and Europe. The only real competitor is the United Kingdom, which of course has much to do with the US involvement as well. That also explains why the US is quite firmly in the Brexit camp, and his alignment with the EU explains Obama’s willingness to interfere with the referendum. (That holds for both Clinton and both Bushes, as well.)

And there is this, for the US, Europe is becoming a sideshow. Russia is a commercial competitor, not an enemy, and no one else perhaps excepting the UK is particularly important to our interests these days.

Those interests are first Israel, and Europe is a very poor ally in this area, other than some in the Visegrad area.

But the main US interest for the foreseeable future will be China, a physically and militarily aggressive competitor verging on an enemy, who will soak up much of our interest and available force.

Do read Hawkin’s excellent article, and Kagan’s, which is linked in the quote is also quite good.

But in short, Europe needs to grow up, America has some work to do elsewhere.

Iran, Hubris, Appeasement, and Despotry

Jonathan S. Tobin had some thought on the Iran treaty, they’re good thoughts, well presented, so let’s look in on them.

Following through on its strategy of trying to make Congressional approval of the Iran nuclear deal irrelevant, the Obama administration pushed through a resolutionimplementing the agreement today at the United Nations Security Council. Both Congressional Republicans and Democrats attacked that move, but that did not deter the president and his foreign policy team from following through on their plan to make an end run around Congress. This arrogant slight to the legislative branch will add fuel to the fire of critics of the Iran pact as they push to shame Democrats into making good on their past promises to insist on an agreement that would, at the very least, live up to the administration’s past promises about inspections and transparency. Yet even in the face of this presidential chutzpah and staggering betrayal of principle, the odds still heavily favor his effort to get the necessary votes from his party to sustain this strategy. Thus, while those Democrats who view their campaign pledges about both the Iranian threat and the security of Israel as still binding should be focusing on the gaping holes in the agreement, they should also ponder the presidential hubris that is at the core of this effort to marginalize their Constitutional obligation to weigh in on the most important foreign treaty signed by the United States.

That arrogance was on display yesterday as Secretary of State John Kerry and Energy Secretary made the rounds of the Sunday morning talk shows. Their blithe assurances about the deal make the U.S. safer could be dismissed as mere hyperbole but their insistence that there is “no such thing in arms control as anytime, anywhere,” inspections of nuclear sites is not only a lie. It is also a direct contradiction of their past pledges on the issue. Indeed, Moniz specifically said, “We expect to have anywhere, anytime access” to Iranian military sites in April during an interview with Bloomberg.Kerry has been navigating a similar zigzag course on a host of other issues regarding the deal including that about Tehran coming clean on past military nuclear research.

Continue reading Presidential Hubris and Arrogance Drive Appeasement of Iran.

I have no argument with anything he says here, but some extension may be in order.

I usually don’t refer to this mess as appeasement, and for a reason. Chamberlain was a good, decent, and honorable man. He sincerely believed perhaps that Munich would work, and he knew that Great Britain was not ready to fight the war. The analogy I use is that Britain at the time of Munich, was in much the same spot as the United States was at the time of the Argentia Bay meeting, just starting to spool up for the fight, and with a very divided population, just coming to grips with the fact that Hitler wasn’t the comic-opera figure that they had been making fun of since at least 1933.  See Charles Utley for the best explanation of the kerfluffle of the (6-year-old Queen’s Nazi Salute). Like him, my first thought was that quote from the blitz.

When she was advised by the Cabinet to send her children (Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret Rose) to Canada to avoid the blitz she gave a straight forward answer: “The children won’t go without me, I won’t go without the King and the King will never leave.”

That tells you all you will ever need to know about the royal family.

Iran is a completely different case, the United States can eliminate Iran whenever we care to exert ourselves, I’m rather amazed we haven’t, given the provocation. There is simply no great power contest here as there was in 1938. This is a simple sell-out of American principles (at least since 1945), and the hubris of attempting to use the UN to override the Congress is simply a continuation of Wilson’s attempt to sell off American Sovereignty to anyone but America, combined with what has become traditional for this administration, a blatant disregard for American Constitutional law.

This administration has always and continuously followed those precepts, to denigrate America in the world, and to subvert the checks and balances that have served us so well. That the current Democratic Party has gone along with this is no surprise. It has been their policy since 1972. But the feckless, mendacious, acquiescence of the rest of Congress, to their own detriment, is hard to understand, and even harder to stomach.

We have about a year and a half of this despicable president left, and then, hopefully, a major rebuilding job, if, and only if, we get our heads out of sand (or other less pleasant places) and elect people who know what it means in the modern world to lead, to have principles, in other words, to be an American. If we don’t, America, and Western Civilization itself, are likely doomed by 2020, since Europe has surrendered, and the UK seems to have lost whatever principles it ever had. It’s hard to believe Cameron has the same job as Chamberlain, let alone Churchill, he’s such a mealy-mouth cretin. And in any case, as Nigel Farage said last Friday, the EU will bleed Briain dry supporting the ones who will not work in southern Europe. A sad end for a people who have been prosperous since King Alfred the Great established the very first nation-state.

And those are the stakes, for Congress right now, and for us as citizens in the next year. Is America to continue, dragging civilization along, or simply sink into the abyss with Rome and the others. It’s up to us to decide.

The Euro Crisis and the Return of Culture

eff6f2c4300ff7e790414467490de6b3_viewHere comes John O. Mcginnis telling us that Greek culture is not compatible with the European Union (EU). Frankly, I find it difficult to disagree with him. Europe is many things, and not a few of them are so different as to be nearly beyond comparison. In many ways, it strikes me as teaming a thoroughbred horse with an ox, neither performs to its potential, in fact it is often less effective than either alone. Here’s a bit of the article.

At least so far, however, The End of History has collided with history. Much of the Islamic world has not gotten the message. To be sure,  the fall of the Soviet Union has led to many ex-communist states with an admirable commitment to law and the kind of economics that gains long-term prosperity.   But there remains Russia, where democracy seems incapable of sustaining a loyal opposition, the state looms as leviathan, and the economy has large elements of a kleptocracy. Readers of Russian history should not be surprised. Richard Pipes has long argued that since the 15th century, Russian culture has been marked by disdain for rights of property and an enthusiasm for a patrimonial regime with little separation between state and economic and civic society.

But nothing better represents the failure of Fukuyama’s thesis than plight of Euro and the Greek crisis. The Euro was the monetary representation of history’s end in the birthplace of the West. Created by no single state, it was thought to advance markets by reducing commercial frictions in  the most cosmopolitan part of the world.  It was also part of a larger political project of deepening the union of European states.

The Euro Crisis and the Return of Culture.

True enough, I think, the cultural divides are pretty high between say Norway, Spain, and Greece aren’t they? It’s more than the weather, we’ve all been shaped by our history.

Writing in National Review, John Fund also has some thoughts.

Today’s referendum doesn’t have winners and losers,” claimed Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipris. That’s absurd. I can name one clear loser.

It should now be obvious to the Eurocrats in Brussels that their grand project of an increasingly centralized and integrated European super-state will be rejected every time that ordinary people are somehow given a chance to vote on it. If they represented a normal national government, the Eurocrats would resign in shame and embarrassment.

The Dutch, French, and Irish all voted against European super-state treaties, although the Irish were bribed into voting a second time and eking out a yes. The Danes, Swiss, and Norwegians all voted to not join the European Union. Now the Greek people, although many of them profess that they still want to be part of the EU, have effectively blown up any chance they can continue using the euro, the linchpin of the EU’s monetary policy.

Beware of Greeks Casting Blame

It strikes me that Europe just contains too many different ethos, ethics, and desires for one overall government to contain them, unless of course, it is so powerless to be meaningless. That is not what the EU looks like to me. It looks like an unelected élite that wants to institutionalize the worst of everyone into a government that will not satisfy anyone at all.

The Greek situation has no real solution, that will be acceptable to both the Greeks and the anybody else. That’s because Margaret Thatcher, diagnosed the problem long ago. Yes, it applies to all of Europe (and the United States as well).

The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money

Margaret Thatcher’s Ghost Stalks The Halls Of the European Union

ThatcherWell, it sounds as if the EU has found some method of stealing more productive people’s money to keep Greece going a bit longer. I didn’t pay all that much attention to the details, honestly. It’s all a sham and show anyway, nearly all of Europe, not even excluding Germany itself soon will be in the same boat.

My friend, Jack Curtis, explained it pretty well yesterday. Here’s part of what he said.

If the E.U. elects to advance funds, Greek debt that cannot be repaid already will be increased by the advance. The E.U. will be throwing good money after bad. Weaning an alcoholic as it were, by buying him drinks. But the facade of business as usual can proceed; the Greek banks can open in the morning.

If the E.U. simply says: Pay what you owe: The Greek banks and government will be forced into what amounts to bankruptcy and collapse. The shock may well collapse the stock markets and thereby the banks elsewhere as the overinflated market values deflate, collapsing still more banks by diminishing the worth of their holdings. And reducing the wealth of everyone else too.

Margaret Thatcher’s Ghost Stalks Halls The Halls Of The Euro … | jcurtisblog.

As he explains it’s a bad omen in a worsening situation. All of Europe, including the UK, will end up in this boat, unless the Tory ‘austerity measures’ are a lot tougher than I think, and besides since they keep stalling on leaving the EU, the rest will drag them along anyway. It won’t necessarily stop there either, we here in the US have decided in the last fifteen (or fifty, perhaps) years that this leaky boat is the way forward.

It amounts to a run on the bank, not the Podunk State Bank but the big ones, the ones billed as too big to fail, which really means that when they fail they will likely take their governments with them leading to who knows what. It’s not hard to see why the politicians want to paper over the mess they’ve made, it could be really catastrophic and when that happens it often turns into a hanging party for all hands.

Sadly, all thinking people have known for basically forever that this is how it ends. What ends? The Greek government at best, the EU and it’s constituent governments, maybe, in the worst case, western civilization. You pays your money and you takes your choice.

Kipling said it over a hundred years ago.

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew,
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four—
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man—
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began —
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire—

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

But maybe that is too complex for those that think themselves fit to rule us. A few years ago Maggie Thatcher put it more succinctly.

“In the end, more than freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all – security, comfort, and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again.”
Margaret Thatcher

She also wisely noted, as Jack reminded us:

“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

 

 

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