President, article get it wrong on NATO

Published Jul 17, 2018 at 4:00pm

A recent article mis-stated many aspects of NATO, but the most egregious was that President Donald Trump “can be undiplomatically blunt, even rude, but that doesn’t mean he is wrong.”  But he is wrong, on many levels, and is doing damage that may take years to repair. 

The premise of NATO is an attack on one is an attack on all (which your article got right) but the concept that many countries are not paying their fare share is not.  NATO, collectively, has established the objective that all members fund their own defense at 2 percent of their GDP by 2024.  The U.S. spends close to 4 percent of its GDP on defense, but when have you ever heard we would spend less if other NATO  countries spent more?  How would we feel if another member nation criticized our spending, either too much or too little?

Germany is criticized by Trump for planning to buy natural gas from Russia, even though Germany leads Europe in getting their energy from renewable sources and the pipeline will only provide about 9 percent of their energy needs.  Besides, when was trade with an international competitor considered bad?  Nations are less likely to go to war with trading partners.

Trump’s statement that “Frankly, many countries owe us a tremendous amount of money for many years, back where they’re delinquent, as far as I’m concerned, because the United States has had to pay for them” is patently false, and which your article admitted is technically incorrect.  But what is really bad is that Trump has questioned whether the US would respond to an attack on the Baltics, and whether the US should opt for a “French option” where De Gaulle removed France from the military command structure for 30 years.

Putin would like nothing more than to fracture NATO and the European Union.  Trump, for whatever reason, appears to be pursuing the same objectives.  That is really, really bad.

— Mike Corbett, Rome, N.Y.

NOTE: The opinion article referenced above appeared on the Editorial Page on Saturday, July 14, in the ‘Elsewhere’ section.