A not so in­no­cent abroad

Trump gets NATO al­lies to pony up

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Obituaries -

Ac­cord­ing to many in the me­dia hy­per­ven­ti­lat­ing prior to the event, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s sit-down with our NATO al­lies at the NATO sum­mit in Brus­sels could not re­sult in any­thing but dis­as­ter.

Af­ter all, we were told, the pres­i­dent is boor­ish and rude when he meets with other lead­ers.

He will press our al­lies, they said, to pay more for their de­fense as pre­vi­ous pres­i­dents have done — or at least the mea­ger 2 per­cent they have promised to pay (only five were ac­tu­ally pay­ing even that) — but he will not do it right.

He will tell them the U.S. will not carry the ma­jor bur­den of NATO any longer. It will be aw­ful. The al­liance will be dam­aged. It may not even sur­vive.

Well, the pres­i­dent wasn’t rude. At times, he was charm­ing.

But he cer­tainly wasn’t in­tim­i­dated.

He made his case plainly and per­sua­sively.

The pres­i­dent de­liv­ered this zinger, aimed at Ger­many:

“Ger­many, as far as I’m con­cerned, is cap­tive to Rus­sia be­cause it’s get­ting so much of its en­ergy from Rus­sia.” And this even tougher one: “We have to talk about the bil­lions and bil­lions of dol­lars that’s be­ing paid to the coun­try we’re sup­posed to be pro­tect­ing you against.”

The Wash­ing­ton Post, aghast, pro­nounced this to be un­prece­dented and un­nec­es­sary truth telling, and Jens Stoltenberg, sec­re­tary-gen­eral of NATO, and Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel did look like they were au­di­tion­ing for one of those “want to get away” com­mer­cials.

But, guess what? The pres­i­dent got his money. He ex­tracted a prom­ise from our al­lies to pay not only the 2 per­cent but more. And in turn pro­nounced his own com­mit­ment to NATO and its fu­ture, which can re­ally only be two things now: Work­ing to­gether to com­bat ter­ror­ism, and work­ing to­gether to con­tain Vladimir Putin’s ad­ven­tur­ism and dirty tricks out­side Rus­sia.

NATO does have to be rein­vented, and every­one knows it. Mr Trump said it.

It was never ex­plained why pres­i­den­tial blunt­ness would de­stroy or even hurt NATO, but if any­thing, in this case at least, NATO was strength­ened. The pres­i­dent con­grat­u­lated and thanked our ma­jor al­lies, and they re­al­ized that Mr. Trump is no patsy and that the U.S. apol­ogy tour is over.

No, the pres­i­dent is not big on in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions, for their own sake. He is trans­ac­tional, not tra­di­tional and not doc­tri­nal. But if the U.S. can ben­e­fit from any mem­ber­ship or part­ner­ship, the pres­i­dent will en­gage. He will al­ways in­sist, how­ever, on fair and equal treat­ment for the U.S. — that’s doc­trine, and it seems pretty rea­son­able to most Amer­i­cans.

As for Mr. Trump’s blunt­ness and his skep­ti­cism re­gard­ing all in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions, both paid off in Brus­sels, hy­per­ven­ti­la­tion not­with­stand­ing.

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