Trump’s NATO bombast gets us where statesmanship can’t

So we’re all in agreement, right? NATO must reform, with a better deal for the United States, or it will disappear. Which will it be? You know the answer. There is no way NATO will disappear, and it probably won’t reform much either. At a time when the White House and the Kremlin seem to be giving away each other’s secrets faster than they can produce new ones, spending hundreds of billions of dollars on a military alliance against Russia does seem a bit indulgent. But NATO won’t disappear, because it never does.

After the Cold War ended but the American military spending did not, this was one of the issues that separated (or should I say “isolated”) responsible internationalists in both parties from the populist rabble rousers. Even the responsible internationalists would end their pleas for responsibility with what newspaper editors call a “to be sure” paragraph, taking back the entire argument and saying something like, “To be sure, NATO’s expenses should be scrutinized with care, and prudent pruning may be possible.”

People who don’t go to Davos every year to get globalized favor making the Europeans fork out more for what is — have you looked at a map lately? — more for their defense than ours. This may have made sense in the late 1940s, when Europe was prostrate and the Soviet Union was marauding. Does it make sense now?