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Should we be involved with NATO?

Trump's a jackass and should have never suggested that we'd give Putin the green light to be aggressive with non-contributing NATO members. Vintage Douche-Bag by the Donald.

On the other hand, he's correct that we have little business subsidizing NATO when other EU states don't pay their fair share. Recall that NATO exists for one defend Europe against the former Soviet Union, now Russia.

Is it in our interest to keep shoveling money and prolonging a Ukraine engagement that Putin has won? A situation where he will keep the Donbas land he's acquired no matter what. No! It's time to negotiate and end this thing.

Or we can play this like Nixon did in Vietnam and talk peace with honor for 4 years and leave with our tail between our legs. Or like we accomplished peace with honor in Afghanistan. I'm just getting started.

Trump Thinks NATO Is Optional

Biden doesn’t, and that makes the 2024 election more than a clash of personalities.

By William A. Galston, WSJ

Feb. 13, 2024 12:22 pm ET

Judging from recent media chatter, the 2024 presidential election boils down to a contest between creeping dementia and raging psychopathy. But something larger is at stake—the future of the West.

President Biden believes that the security of Europe depends on halting Vladimir Putin’s aggression against Ukraine. Donald Trump is indifferent at best to Ukraine’s fate. Mr. Biden believes that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is the linchpin of American and European security, while Mr. Trump sees it as welfare for wealthy countries that should be able to defend themselves.

Last fall, congressional Republicans insisted on linking continued aid for Ukraine to policy changes, secured by legislation, at the southern border. After laboring for four months, Senate negotiators produced a bill to do this, which earned a thumbs-down from Mr. Trump and was killed in less than four days. The former president wants an issue, not a solution. Although the Senate recently approved aid for Ukraine by a bipartisan 70-29 vote, the bill, which contains no border reforms, faces dim prospects in the House.

Let’s be clear about the consequences of failing to renew aid for Kyiv. Ukrainian troops are running out of vital military supplies. Along the front, Russian forces are now firing artillery shells at five to 10 times the rate the Ukrainians can. Ukrainian forces are so short of ammunition that they are being told to save their fire for large contingents of Russian attackers, allowing smaller groups to advance. Air-defense systems are being depleted, exposing urban civilians to Russian drones and missiles. The Russians are slowly degrading Ukrainian defenses in and around the front-line cities of Avdiivka and Kupyansk.

Michael Kofman, a Russia expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, says that without additional American aid, the Ukrainians could hold out for part of 2024 at most, after which “they will start to lose slowly.”

Writing recently in the Journal, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz declared that a Russian victory in Ukraine would “dramatically change the face of Europe” and “deal a severe blow to the liberal world order” by providing a blueprint for other authoritarian leaders who are contemplating forcible seizures of territory. Mr. Scholz emphasized Europe’s financial and military contributions to Ukraine’s defense but also stressed—rightly—that the commitment to Ukraine must remain firm on both sides of the Atlantic.

Europe can dig deeper, but it can’t fill the military gap that the end of American aid would create. Since the end of the Cold War, European countries have shrunk their armed forces and dismantled their defense-industrial base. European leaders have acknowledged that they won’t meet their target of producing a million 155mm artillery shells for Ukraine by March. Even though the U.S. has allowed its own military production capacities to weaken, the U.S. is still the indispensable nation when it comes to weapons.

This is why Mr. Trump’s recent comments are ringing alarm bells throughout Europe. Speaking of NATO countries that haven’t yet met the target of spending 2% of their gross domestic product on defense, he said, “No, I would not protect you” against the Russians. “I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want.”

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary-general, issued a firm but measured response: “Any suggestion that allies will not defend each other undermines all of our security, including that of the U.S., and puts American and European soldiers at increased risk.” He said he was confident that whoever wins the November election, the U.S. will remain a “strong and committed NATO ally.”

Other European leaders are less confident. Norbert Röttgen, a leading defense voice in Germany’s Parliament, said everyone should watch the video of Mr. Trump’s statement to understand that “Europe may soon have no choice but to defend itself.” Left unstated was the harsh reality that at present Europe can’t do so, and becoming self-sufficient would take time and wrenching reductions in the Continent’s social programs. An abrupt shift in American policy would create crises across Europe.

I assume that after serving as president for four years, Mr. Trump is aware of Article 5 of NATO’s founding charter, which states that an armed attack against a NATO member “shall be considered an attack against them all.” But he doesn’t seem to care. For him, the charter is just a piece of paper. He will defend NATO members against attack only if he deems them worthy and only if he calculates it to be in America’s self-interest.

For Mr. Biden, NATO is a solemn compact based on common interests and shared values. For Mr. Trump, it’s a financial transaction. He doesn’t regard Europe’s defense as a vital American interest. If he is elected to a second term, we will find out whether “America First” means “America Alone.” This is one of many reasons the choice Americans will make in November is much more than a clash of personalities.

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