NATO members excluding the United States account for 21% of world GDP with a per capita income of $31,000. It is a wealthy collection of democracies that is very much a creation of the post war US grand strategy.
As such, NATO (x USA) is more than able financially to look after themselves in terms of security if they want to – at least since the 1970s when NATO members UK and France both fielded their own nuclear deterrent.
A century of dependence on the United States to come to the aid of Europe, beginning with World War I and II, and then post-war, have however created a dependent, parent-child relationship where NATO members continued to look to the United States to provide their security and solve all their problems.
NATO have become a spoiled child that is very much a product of the US nuclear umbrella mixed with the dominant social-democracy ideology of Europe.
Like NATO citizens looking to their social-democratic governments to solve their problems, NATO allies look to the United States and American taxpayers and expect Uncle Sam to provide.
Successive US Administrations have to deal with several NATO allies (e.g Canada, Germany, etc.) that behave like petulant 2 year old children, stamping their feet, shedding crocodile tears, or raising their voices when asked by the US to abide by their NATO commitments made to the Obama Administration most recently in 2014.
To be clear, not all of the NATO allies act in this manner — there are those who take their Article III commitments seriously, but the problem is that NATO as the Article V club does not.
Everyone cut back defense spending after the cold war was won, and in the aftermath of the 2008 economic crash, but a decade later, when the crisis is past and urgent new security challenges loom, there is no excuse but to raising defense spending back to at least normal historical levels.
Instead of doing so, several NATO leaders greeted President Trump with a temper tatum on his first visit to NATO headquarters.
President Trump presided over the dedication of the new NATO Headquarters and the 9/11 memorial. NATO leaders decided to make the centerpiece of the visit the fact that the United States was the sole and only member to invoke Article 5 after 9/11.
While this fact is true, the repeated nagging of the United States on this point reeks of a Leni Riefenstahl production more appropriate a century past. Or the kind of guilt trip that Israelis lay on Germans, or Beijing China heaps on Japan.
Seventy years after WWII, this is getting old.
President Trump showed extreme restraint and diplomatic tact to not, in his speech, publically placed this fact (US invocation of Article 5) in the context of all the times that the US came to the aid of Europe before and after NATO without waiting for Article 5 being invoked.
Should President Trump have mentioned the Greek Civil War, Berlin Airlift, Hungarian Revolution, Cuban Missile Crisis, Invasion of Czechoslovakia, to name a few? Or enumerate the cost of each intervention?
In each and every one of these cases, the United States mobilized troops, put Americans, and CONUS civilian populations at risk to defend NATO and Europe without the formalities of Article 5 being invoked by a fellow NATO member.
What about the present and immediate future?
Presently, the United States is fully shouldering the burden of defense against Iranian & DPRK ballistic missiles in Europe and North America with only token participation from European partners and nil from Canada.
With the explosively growing nuclear ballistic missile threat from Iran via their collaboration with North Korea, might NATO allies have woken up from their willful blind eye and slumber and realized that a new, (non-Russian) existential threat is nearly upon them?
Do they need to wait for the equivalent of 1940 to rearm?
Will NATO “allies” like Germany (Defense: 1.2% GDP) or Canada (1% GDP before it is Sajjaned) honestly expect Uncle Sam to pay for the full bill of providing a Ballistic Missile Defense for them for free?
Indeed, the nuclear threat and its growing complexity in the Second Nuclear Age is a core element of what Article V really is all about, and Britain and France already possess nuclear weapons because they wanted to include nuclear weapons within Article III and not hope for the US to do an Article V commitment.
What about reciprocity?
What capacity do NATO allies except the US have to provide for “collective defense” obligations to Canada?
What aid can NATO provide the United States in the event of a North Korean or Iranian ballistic missile attack on North American cities?
Conversely, what capacity do Canada have to aid European NATO allies in the event of an Iranian ballistic missile attack — which was amply demonstrated during the past week by the North Korean proxy missile test.
NATO’s ceremony laid bare the fatal flaw of the organization: It is too much of a one way relationship. NATO Europe is not even taking care of problems in their own backyard (e.g. Russia, Middle East, Southern Flank, or Missile Defense against Iran) let alone pretend to offer all but a token expeditionary capability to aid the US, Canada, or non-NATO allies in a crunch.
Europeans and Canadians (who couldn’t care less about defending themselves adequately) argue that Russia’s territorial annexations / incursions are the top priority.
And with Brexit and the general crisis in Europe deepening, the future of European defense does not revolve around President Trump but devolves to the key European states to enhance their own defense capabilities as could be understood within an Article III context.
If it is so important for NATO allies to beat back Russia in the Ukraine “on principle”, please explain why the identical principle do not apply to the PRC’s “sea grab” of the South China Sea — unilaterally violating a signed and ratified treaty (UNCLOS) by Beijing China and grabbing a territory about the size of Europe from the Channel to Eastern Poland.
This is all the more puzzling as NATO member Canada seem to have no objection to Beijing China’s claims, or care enough to protest, let alone participate in FONOPS, even though all NATO allies, including Canada is dependent on freedom of navigation of SCS for trade.
President Trump could have affirmed his support for Article 5 and then publically invoked Article 3 in front of his NATO peers and pointed out that their failure to provide for their own self-defense is a necessary pre-condition for seeking aid under Article 5.
That would have sent a clear message that the mythical 2% GDP defense spending target is necessary, but not sufficient.
What good is 2% GDP spending that do not result in bona fide, credible, deployable, usable capabilities held at high levels of readiness for military contingencies and as deterrent?
The assembled NATO dignitaries did not take a hint when President Trump took note of the headquarters and pointed said he did not once ask about cost.
Or the inevitable compare with costs of similar facilities in the US.
And the tradeoff between lavish HQs staffed with REMFs and useable NATO defense capabilities.
America’s NATO “allies” like Germany, rather than address this point, resorted to farcical arguments that spending on foreign aid, development, and others should be counted in NATO “defense” spending.
While such arguments might have merit if ALL NATO members are given the same opportunity to apply the same rules once the rules are changed by consensus, which was not the intent of Canada or Germany: Effectively unilaterally implementing “new math” rules that only apply to them.
Brazenly defrauding allies with lies is in turn operationalized by the Trudeau regime’s tactics against the Trump Administration: organizing multilateral coalitions, intense lobbying of American interests, exploiting legally and politically dubious relationships with Administration officials, threats, persistently and routinely reneging on government-to-government commitments, withdrawing from signed and ratified treaty, etc.
By making public Canada’s stratagem ostensibly to help NATO allies and Mexico reign in the Trump Administration, Canada opened the door for the same game being played by Russia, Beijing-China, Iran, North Korea, Jihadists, etc.: A consequence that may not have been anticipated by the Trudeau regime.
Ultimately, the US Administration and Congress will have to respond by blocking these moves that constitutes interference by foreign agents in domestic US politics.
President Trump could have addressed this issue of persistent dishonesty by unilaterally initiating the preparation of a semiannual annual report by US-DoD on every NATO member that rates their performance on meeting Article 3 obligations.
A report that would publically identify the threats facing each NATO member, and assess what they have done and actual readiness and preparedness to mitigate the threat. These facts, independently compiled by DoD, can be considered as a factor like progress toward 2% GDP spending in any consideration of Article 5 obligations beyond the requirement for “consultations”.
A semiannual Article 3 Report on every NATO member would be a much better gauge now that members have taken the lead in using Arthur-Anderson accounting. If exhortations to do the right thing have no effect, perhaps public shaming semi-annually to their electorate can do better.
At some future point, the Article 3 reports might delve into the capacity, readiness and willingness of NATO members to come to the aid of the United States, e.g., in the Pacific theater.
Wouldn’t it be a revelation and revolutionary for NATO obligations to be truly mutual?
NATO leaders began the meeting with barely disguised contempt for President Trump, whom they regarded as “someone with a short attention span and mood who has no knowledge of NATO, no interest in in-depth policy issues”.
The indisputable fact is that NATO xUSA, rather than President Trump, revealed themselves to be so described: An organization that is incapable of paying attention to the imminent threat from Iranian nuclear ballistic missiles (sent via proxy DPRK) days before. (Short attention span.) Unable to recognizing the importance of upholding UNCLOS / Freedom of Navigation in the South China Sea. (No interest in in-depth policy issues.) Willfully blind to the imminent existential threats from DPRK to NATO allies USA and Canada. (No knowledge of NATO, esp. Article 3).
Should we even mention the dangers of jihadists or Syria obtaining nuclear weapons / missiles from DPRK?
The unabashed expression of European elite arrogance at the NATO summit toward the American leader of the untermensch could have been resulted in a less restrained and diplomatic President Trump walking out.
Instead, the statesman President Trump, rather than feed this self-serving elite’s demand for continued welfare payments from the American taxpayer, diplomatically told them to get on with investing in their own defense.
Or should the United States look for more credible bilateral relationships within Europe rather than having a running argument with those European states that are self-satisfied and preoccupied with their own economic development and social welfare rather than their own defense and use NATO as a club to protect themselves from the Russians with a low cost insurance loan?