Is a com­ing NATO cri­sis in­evitable?

Manteca Bulletin - - Opinion - PAT BUCHANAN

Of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ex­plo­sion at An­gela Merkel’s Ger­many dur­ing the NATO sum­mit, it needs to be said: It is long past time we raised our voices.

Amer­ica pays more for NATO, an al­liance cre­ated 69 years ago to de­fend Europe, than do the Euro­peans. And as Europe free-rides off our de­fense ef­fort, the EU runs trade sur­pluses at our ex­pense that ex­ceed $100 bil­lion a year.

To Trump, and not only to him, we are be­ing used, gouged, by rich na­tions we de­fend, while they skimp on their own de­fense.

At Brus­sels, Trump had a new beef with the Ger­mans, though sim­i­lar prob­lems date back to the Rea­gan era. Now we see the Ger­mans, Trump raged, whom we are pro­tect­ing from Rus­sia, col­lab­o­rat­ing with Rus­sia and deep­en­ing their de­pen­dence on Rus­sian nat­u­ral gas by jointly building the Nord Stream 2 pipe­line un­der the Baltic Sea.

When com­pleted, this pipe­line will leave Ger­many and Europe even more deeply re­liant on Rus­sia for their en­ergy needs.

To Trump, this makes no sense. While we pay the lion’s share of the cost of Ger­many’s de­fense, Ger­many, he said in Brus­sels, is be­com­ing “a cap­tive of Rus­sia.”

Im­politic? Per­haps. But is Trump wrong? While much of what he says en­rages Western elites, does not much of it need say­ing?

Ger­many spends 1.2 per­cent of its gross do­mes­tic prod­uct on de­fense, while the U.S. spends 3.5 per­cent. Why?

Why — nearly three decades af­ter the end of the Cold War, the col­lapse of the War­saw Pact, the crackup of the Soviet Union and the over­throw of the Com­mu­nist dic­ta­tor­ship in Moscow -- are we still de­fend­ing Euro­pean na­tions that col­lec­tively have 10 times the GDP of Vladimir Putin’s Rus­sia?

Be­fore de­part­ing Brus­sels, Trump upped the ante on the al­lies, urg­ing that all NATO na­tions raise the share of their GDPs that they de­vote to de­fense to 4 per­cent.

Brus­sels may dis­miss this as typ­i­cal Trumpian blus­ter, but my sense is that Trump is not bluff­ing. He is vis­i­bly los­ing pa­tience.

Though Amer­i­can lead­ers since John Fos­ter Dulles in the 1950s have called for a greater de­fense ef­fort from our al­lies, if the Euro­peans do not get se­ri­ous this time, it could be the be­gin­ning of the end for NATO.

And not only NATO. South Korea, with an econ­omy 40 times that of North Korea, spends 2.6 per­cent of its GDP on de­fense, while, by one es­ti­mate, North Korea spends 22 per­cent, the high­est share on earth.

Ja­pan, with the world’s third­largest econ­omy, spends an even smaller share of its GDP on de­fense than Ger­many, 0.9 per­cent.

Thus, though Seoul and Tokyo are far more men­aced by a nu­clear-armed North Korea and a ris­ing China, like the Euro­peans, both con­tinue to rely upon us as they con­tinue to run large trade sur­pluses with us.

We get hit both ways. We send troops and pay bil­lions for their

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