WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s repeated tongue lashings from the NATO allies, and its friendly overtures to the Russian President Vladimir Putin have been stirring questions at home and abroad about Trump’s commitment to an Atlantic alliance that is a pillar of the AMERICAN security policy for more than half a century.
Maybe a new look, or even a reduction of AMERICAN forces in Europe be in the cards? Clues may come when the Trumpet collects Wednesday with NATO leaders in Brussels. The official agenda includes a plan to increase the number of land, sea and air forces capable of rapidly respond to a European crisis, but overshadows the tensions generated by Trump is of the opinion that the Europeans are slackers leaning unfairly in the U.S. army.
To reduce the risk of the floor of the gorge with its traditional allies, the Trumpet will then hold a summit in Finland with president Putin. Upon his departure from Washington on Tuesday, the president noted that he “can’t say right now” if Putin is a friend or enemy, but he predicted that his first summit with the Russian leader “is the easiest” of all of its meetings in Europe.
Such comments have stirred unease, not only in Europe, but in Washington. A bipartisan resolution, set to be approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday pointedly voices support for NATO as it is of strategic importance for the collective security of the trans-Atlantic region.
“Although the Atlantic alliance has weathered many crises about her life, I am now afraid that the alliance will not survive Donald Trump,” said Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, who served as senior director for European affairs on the National Security Council during President Barack Obama’s first term.
“Because he is not arguing with allies about the policy. He poses questions about the fundamental value of NATO to the United States. This antagonistic approach is the generation of an unprecedented debate in Europe and in Canada, or the United States should be treated as friend or enemy,” she said.
The demise of the Soviet Union in 1991 prompted a partial withdrawal of AMERICAN troops from Europe, but every administration since then has concluded that it is keeping an AMERICAN military presence there was important for the broader U.S. security, political and economic interests, and as a sign of solidarity with Europe. NATO is an important component of the long U.S. military engagement in Afghanistan, for example, and it is expected to agree this week a larger training role in Iraq.
Trump, who has also questioned the US military presence in Asia, is a challenge those assumptions. That is the most clear in its hostile approach to Germany, the main host of AMERICAN troops in Europe. He has criticised the Germans are not spending enough on their own defense, and has criticized the country for what he calls a liberal immigration policy. He has also placed Germany in the middle of his complaints about a U.S.-European trade imbalance.
Derek Chollet, executive vice-president of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, a think-tank says that there is a clear link between Trump’s criticism of the German defence expenditure and the reports that the Pentagon has undertaken an evaluation of the cost of keeping troops in Europe.
“You can read this a different way” than looking at whether a U.S. troops reduction”, is a viable option for punishing them for their apparent lack of will,” said Chollet, the Pentagon’s assistant secretary-general for international security affairs during Obama’s second term.
He asks if Trump is fully aware of the global importance of the AMERICAN military presence in Germany, including the hosting of the headquarters of the U.S. Africa Command, which leads U.S. counter-terrorism efforts in North Africa. Stuttgart is also the headquarters of the U. S. European Command. Among the many other facilities, Germany hosts a U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl, the largest American hospital outside the United States.
In addition, NATO has proposed the creation of a new assignment in Germany to improve the way in which the alliance could move troops and equipment in a military crisis. Kay Bailey Hutchison, the U.S. ambassador to NATO, told reporters this plan will be approved during the summit in Brussels.
Contrary to Trump’s grumbles about America takes the defense burden in Europe, his government plans to boost spending to support it.
In the aftermath of the Russian annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine in 2014 and the subsequent military incursion in eastern Ukraine, the Pentagon staged joint exercises in eastern and central Europe and spent billions on what they call the European Deterrence Initiative focused on Russia. After spending $3.4 billion on the initiative of last year, the Trump of directors has proposed the promotion of the $6.5 billion in the year 2019.
Trump’s of the Pentagon chief Jim Mattis is a former NATO commander, and a leading advocate for the preservation of the alliance, although he also is push allies to spend more on defence. Some of Mattis’ predecessors were even stronger in their criticism. Robert Gates, for example, said in Brussels in 2011 that the European penny-pinching and distaste for front-line fighting in Afghanistan was the alliance’s future in danger. Gates said that NATO’s “dim if not dismal future, not in the least because of what he called a decline of the patience in Congress for spending on european defence.
Trump, however, a step further by stating that the Europeans are freeloaders and take advantage of the American generosity.
In a new assessment of NATO’s expenditure and the expenditure share of problems, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, called Trump’s language “unique division” and said that NATO members ‘ contributions should be measured by more than a simple budget numbers. The think tank was referring to the pledge of the NATO 2014 summit that members should “endeavour to move in the direction of” the spending of at least 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense by 2024. By the count, only four of NATO’s 29 countries met the 2% target in 2017. They were the USA, Greece, great Britain and Estonia.
The report said that a wider range of data should be used for the measurement of an ally’s contributions to the collective defense. It cited as an example of Denmark, which has not met the 2% target in the past few years, but has made important contributions in other ways, including with troop deployments to Afghanistan and the sacrifice important trade with Russia by compliance with the sanctions.