Trump and NATO? Same old story

Kate Hudson writes:

Did anyone really think that a Trump electoral victory would spell the end of NATO? Well he did describe it as ‘obsolete’ during his presidential campaign. But he’s certainly changed his tune faster than you can say ‘New Cold War’. And I can’t say I’m surprised.

This week Trump met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House. As well as the usual platitudes about being a bulwark of international peace and security, devoted to human dignity and freedom, there were three key elements.

Firstly, a quick burst of expansion. Since foundation in 1949, NATO has expanded from 12 states to 28, many joining after the end of the Cold War and the demise of its rival, the Warsaw Pact. Trump has now signed the protocol to admit Montenegro, one of the successor states to the former Yugoslavia. In 1999, it was part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, bombed illegally by NATO. Other former Yugoslav republics are next on the list for membership.

Secondly, the money. Trump has been after member states to cough up 2% of GDP on so-called ‘defence’, agreed in 2006 and reiterated in 2014. According to the Economist, the US last year spent 3.6% GDP on defence, whereas west European states generally have been on a downwards spending trajectory since 1991. Most east European states have increased their spending recently, but are still largely below the 2% target. As Trump puts it, NATO members must ‘pay what they owe’.

And thirdly, the fight against terrorism. This is the area that Trump has been most critical of, and the basis on which he called NATO obsolete, demanding more action against terrorism. But apparently there has been some miraculous improvement. As he said at the press conference with Stoltenberg: ‘I complained about that a long time ago and they made a change, and now they do fight terrorism. I said it was obsolete; it’s no longer obsolete’. Sounds a bit like a face-saving device to cover a shift in rhetoric.

As we have seen from the attacks launched in the last few days – including use of the massive MOAB bomb – he is stepping up US involvement in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and the strong message is that he wants NATO engagement with that.

Of course, Stoltenberg responded agreeing with everything Trump said and provided further assurances that he was right there with the US. This seems rather like business as usual then. NATO has always been the nuclear-armed military alliance at the service of US foreign policy – and paying for the privilege. Time to step up our anti-NATO campaigning.

Next stop Brussels: the NATO summit where Trump is due to appear. Join us on 24th/25th May for anti-NATO activities organised by the international No to War – No to NATO network.

For more details of the events click here

This article was first published on the CND website


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