You may recall from the 2016 campaign trail that many of our media mavens lectured then candidate Donald Trump about his plans to bully our NATO allies into paying their fair share of defense costs. This was widely viewed in liberal circles as an unreasonable attitude, with some even suggesting that it could discount America’s place as a global leader. It turns out that, yet again, President Trump decided to make good on his promise when he sent his new Secretary of Defense across the pond to deliver precisely that message. (Washington Post)
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis issued an ultimatum Wednesday to allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, warning that if they do not boost their defense spending to goals set by the alliance, the United States may alter its relationship with them.
“I owe it to you all to give you clarity on the political reality in the United States and to state the fair demand from my country’s people in concrete terms,” Mattis said. “America will meet its responsibilities, but if your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to the alliance, each of your capitals needs to show its support for our common defense.”
If the predictions were true this should have resulted in Europe’s wealthier nations pushing back hard. But then a funny thing happened on the way to Brussels. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, given a bit of time to reflect on the situation, decided that maybe this wasn’t such a crazy idea after all. (Daily Caller News Foundation)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday her country needs to meet its NATO obligation to spend 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense.
The Trump administration is actively pushing NATO allies to increase their spending. Germany currently spends about 1.2 percent of GDP on defense, which Merkel vows to change if she is elected for a fourth term in office this September.
“Obligations have to be fulfilled,” Merkel said at a campaign rally Saturday. “And, others in the world will demand that of us. And, I think they’re right that Germany must uphold its obligations.”
What we’re seeing demonstrated here would appear to be the benefits of a policy of low expectations among Trump’s critics. We’ve seen similar attitudes being taken when it comes to trade policy and job creation. No sooner had Trump been elected than manufacturers began making changes in their long-term plans when it comes to the outsourcing of jobs and moving facilities out of the country. This happened at Carrier, Ford and a few others. Most of the cable news talking heads were quick to point out that some of these plans had been on the drawing board and under consideration before Trump was elected, clearly making an effort to stifle any talk of a so-called Trump Effect. But the fact is, large corporations always have multiple plans on the table at any given time. Each of those companies could have still elected to continue outsourcing and other such activities but they conveniently “chose” not to after the American people spoke up.
There is little reason to suspect that the same sort of effect isn’t taking place on the foreign policy front. Both Merkel herself and the press are studiously omitting any reference to Donald Trump’s policy on this matter. The general attitude seems to be one of European leaders suddenly realizing, “oh, that’s right. We were supposed to be spending 2%.” I suppose that looks better in the local press than suggesting that they might want to do what Trump was asking if they wish to remain in the same favorable position they’ve enjoyed for so long.
So, is this “winning?” And if so, are you tired of it yet? (/snark)
Original article corrected to change “Secretary of State” to “Secretary of Defense”