Europe re­al­izes price of US regime-change wars

The Morning Call - - TOWN SQUARE - Rachel Mars­den

PARIS — If there’s one theme the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has been con­sis­tent about, it’s that Europe has to start pay­ing for its ride-share costs down the Amer­i­can regime-change su­per­high­way.

Ex­cept U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump hasn’t put it in those terms, ex­actly. No one ever does. But the re­al­ity is that what ex­perts call the “Transat­lantic Al­liance” has largely been re­duced to a cul­mi­nat­ing in at­tempted de­fen­es­tra­tions of other heads of state. It hasn’t worked out too well.

NATO is the or­ga­ni­za­tion un­der which Europe and the U.S. at­tempt to dif­fuse any na­tional re­spon­si­bil­ity for failed regime-change ef­forts — from Libya and Afghanista­n to Iraq and Ukraine. The multi­na­tional na­ture of the ef­forts per­mits lead­ers from each of the in­di­vid­ual mem­ber states to largely ab­solve them­selves from ac­count­abil­ity in elec­tions by say­ing that the bun­gled ef­forts weren’t their do­ing but rather were un­der­taken by the “in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity.”

Al­though he cam­paigned on re­duc­ing Amer­i­can mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion­ism, Trump has re­peat­edly called for NATO coun­tries to kick in more cash. Per­haps he hasn’t fully thought this through, be­cause it seems con­trary to Trump’s vows to re­duce Amer­i­can in­volve­ment in in­cit­ing and sus­tain­ing for­eign con­flicts.

What ex­is­ten­tial mil­i­tary threat do Europe and North Amer­ica face that re­quires more money to be thrown at it? The dirty lit­tle se­cret is that there isn’t one. By negat­ing this fact, Trump re­duces him­self to lit­tle more than a preacher try­ing to guilt the faith­ful into cough­ing up more cash for the col­lec­tion plate, be­liev­ing that they’ll pay purely out of habit and ide­ol­ogy.

In­stead of call­ing for greater Euro­pean spend­ing to con­tinue NATO’s global regime-change tour, Trump should be cut­ting Amer­ica’s own com­mit­ments. With­out NATO as a pre­text for fund­ing

folie a deux,

mil­i­tary ad­ven­tures, Europe seems a lot less in­ter­ested in be­ing left hold­ing the bag — and the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion seems less in­clined to have the U.S. fund those ad­ven­tures.

Dur­ing a trip to Poland this week, Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence spouted the usual rhetoric about how Amer­ica will “stand with Ukraine.” But Pence also said that it’s time for Europe to start foot­ing more of the bills, and that Ukraine still has cor­rup­tion prob­lems.

Wasn’t Western-backed regime change sup­posed to fix that? Europe and the U.S. both bought it and broke it, and now it looks as if Amer­ica wants Europe to pay. It’s not the first time. EU fund­ing has re­peat­edly been al­lo­cated to sta­bi­liz­ing Euro­pean ar­eas over­whelmed by regime change — no­tably in South­ern Europe, which mi­grants from Mid­dle East­ern and African “for­ever wars” have flooded in re­cent years. Turkey has been able to lever­age the mas­sive num­bers of these mi­grants flow­ing across its borders, re­peat­edly ex­tort­ing the EU for more cash in ex­change for not let­ting the mi­grants ven­ture into Europe.

Euro­pean na­tions are com­ing to the re­al­iza­tion that ide­ol­ogy can only last so long in the face of over­whelm­ing geopo­lit­i­cal re­al­i­ties. On some level, Trump seems to un­der­stand this. At the re­cent G-7 sum­mit in Biar­ritz, France, he re­sponded to a jour­nal­ist’s ques­tion about po­ten­tially invit­ing Rus­sia to re­join the G-7 by say­ing, “Re­mem­ber, they’re build­ing a big pipe­line in Europe go­ing right up to Ger­many. And I said to An­gela (Merkel) ... ‘You pay Rus­sia bil­lions of dol­lars and then we de­fend you from Rus­sia.’ And I say, ‘How does that work?’ ”

Trump seems to be ac­knowl­edg­ing the lu­nacy of plow­ing cash into NATO to de­fend the al­liance from a key eco­nomic part­ner. Trump’s right: It doesn’t “work” — at least not for the cit­i­zens of Western na­tions, with the ex­cep­tion of those who profit from the mil­i­tary-in­dus­trial com­plex or ben­e­fit from the sanc­tion­ing of ri­vals on the global play­ing field.

Euro­pean na­tions can no longer af­ford to play along with the cha­rade. Per­haps Amer­ica can’t ei­ther.

Tri­bune Con­tent Agency

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