This week, the American president joins European allies at the NATO summit in Brussels, and the gathering is expected to be a bruising one. The Europeans are fearing a drubbing from Trump over financial commitments.
Last month at the Group of Seven summit in Canada, the brash US president gave his counterparts a tongue-lashing, telling them that the NATO military alliance was obsolete due to their lack of financial support.
Holding back no punches, Trump followed up with a letter to European leaders warning if they don’t shell out more on NATO then he would consider withdrawing US troops from Europe.
Well, don’t you know, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron have reportedly jumped to it, to sign off on massive increases in their countries’ military budgets, in line with Trump’s demands, just ahead of his arrival in Brussels this week.
Other European states are also cranking up the military budgets out of fear of an ear-bashing from the man in the White House.
Merkel has suddenly begun talking up the importance of NATO as a defender of Europe against alleged Russian aggression.
As Deutsche Welle reported: “In her weekly podcast, the German chancellor has made the case for higher defense spending and the significance of NATO.”
Trump has recently talked about hoping to develop a good relationship with Putin from their forthcoming summit in Helsinki on July 16.
The American president has even mooted the possibility of recognizing Crimea as officially part of the Russian Federation, and, in doing so, dropping the whole tedious Western narrative accusing Moscow of “annexing” the Black Sea peninsula, when the latter territory voted in a referendum in March 2014 to rejoin “Mother Russia”.
Trump has also proposed that Russia be re-admitted to the Group of Seven forum of leading international nations – much to the consternation of European leaders.
Evidently, the American leader does not seem to view Russia or President Putin as a terribly menacing threat to security – despite the hullabaloo among Russophohic ideologues in Washington.
If that’s the case, then it begs the question why Trump is so gung-ho about getting European members of NATO to spend vastly more sums of money on the alliance?
Obviously then, Russia is not actually presenting a threat to Europe, or any one else for that matter. The whole narrative about Russia being “aggressive” and “expansionist” is a risible, baseless charade. One suspects that Trump knows that too. That’s why he has no qualms about meeting Putin next week, straight after his NATO summit.
The question is then: why is Trump obsessively hounding European states to spend more money on NATO, if Russia is not such a menace?
Partly, the American motive is to force European economies to plow more cash into the NATO alliance as a form of subsidizing the US military-industrial complex. Out of 29 NATO members, the US accounts for some 70 per cent of the total military budget. Wouldn’t it be more desirable for the Americans if the other members carried more of the financial burden, and allocated more money to buying US-made fighter planes, tanks, missile systems and warships?
In short, it is not really about defending Europe from Russia. The real issue is finding ways to maintain gargantuan financial subsidies to keep a grotesque military machine rolling and rolling.
Germany and France are reportedly aiming to spend an extra $18 billion each on military budgets over the next few years, largely as a result of Trump bullying them for not pulling their weight.
The bitter irony in all this is that Europe’s security is actually more threatened by the reckless buildup of NATO forces along Russia’s Western borders. This totally unjustified escalation is a provocation to Russia and to international peace. Yet, here we have European leaders falling over each other to commit more valuable resources to create greater instability for Europe on the dubious say-so of Washington.
Former US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was quoted this week as saying European leaders are “scared to death” that Trump may withdraw forces from Europe.
Scared to death? The pro-NATO politicians in Europe are not worthy of the description “leaders”. Most European citizens would be only too glad and relieved to see a general de-escalation of military forces on the continent, and in particular the removal of American troops which have been present for more than seven decades following the Second World War.
A Washington Post editorial remarked that Trump “has kept security officials across Europe sleepless in anticipation of a possible blowup like he initiated at last month’s Group of Seven meeting”.
It’s hardly surprising therefore that there is a popular revolt underway across Europe for alternative political parties. These so-called “populist” parties are usually a lot more sane when it comes to viewing Russia as a natural partner, and wanting a return to normal relations.
The establishment parties and governments in Europe have completely lost the plot with their misunderstanding about what actually constitutes a threat.
Years of slavishly acquiescing to Washington’s criminal wars across the Middle East and North Africa have produced a destabilizing refugee problem which is straining the very institutional seams of the EU.
Again, slavishly following Washington’s hostility towards Russia under Bush and Obama, Trump’s predecessors, has cost Europe painfully with economic sanctions, while the US economy is relatively unscathed. This week, the EU has moved to extend sanctions on Russia into next year. Nearly five years of such measures, largely initiated by Washington over the CIA-backed coup d’état in Ukraine, has cost European workers, farmers and businesses dearly. Yet, the proverbial European turkeys continue to vote for Christmas.
It is Washington under Trump, not Moscow, that is damaging Europe’s economies with punitive tariffs and a trade war.
It is Washington under Trump that is leveraging Europe to spend more on NATO escalation, leading to more tensions with Russia, when in fact the American president seems to be sanguine about establishing friendly relations with Moscow.
The rife contradictions and double-think among European politicians leads to a stark conclusion. They are a bunch of bozos. Hence, Trump is treating them as they deserve.
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