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President Trump Should Give NATO to the Europeans

The election had barely been called for Donald Trump when he came under pressure to back away from his most important promises. For instance, he had questioned U.S. subsidies for the defense of prosperous, populous Europe and criticized NATO as “obsolete.” But after President Barack Obama met with Trump and assured the Europeans of the president-elect’s “commitment to NATO and the transatlantic alliance.” 

U.S. Military in EuropeNATO is one of Washington’s most expensive yet beloved sacred cows. In fact, there may be no better example of how bureaucracies develop their own interests than NATO. 

The alliance was created in a radically different world. Europe had been ravaged by war, so an American-created and -dominated alliance seemed to offer geopolitical insurance. By providing a multi-national organization through which West Germany could rearm, the transatlantic pact also helped rehabilitate Europe’s most important state. 

However, NATO commander and later President Dwight Eisenhower warned against providing Europe with a permanent garrison. He feared creating helpless dependents, which is precisely what happened. 

Many Europeans saw little danger of a military invasion. And most Europeans believed that the U.S. would do whatever was necessary to protect them. 

This cozy status quo ended with the collapse of Communism. For a brief moment, NATO officials recognized that the transatlantic alliance had lost its raison d’etre and, like all good bureaucrats, worried about preserving their jobs. 

NATO supporters quickly concocted new duties for the alliance, however. Along the way, NATO fought foolish wars for reasons of politics rather than security. 

The Europeans backed Washington—most half-heartedly at best—in a Quixotic nation-building mission in Afghanistan that has entered its 16th year. In contrast, America led the fight in “Europe’s wars,” Serbia and Libya, which threatened no alliance member, effectively treating NATO as the end and war as the means. 

Yet expansion continued to the ever more dubious, with tiny Montenegro the latest country invited to join. However, it was the potential inclusion of Georgia and Ukraine which provoked a crisis with Moscow. Vladimir Putin didn’t have to be an authoritarian paranoid to perceive NATO’s actions as challenging his nation. 

Although his brutal response was unjustified, it didn’t threaten any member of the alliance. Rather, it was meant to discourage NATO from adding more of Russia’s neighbors. Putin has done nothing to suggest he hopes to conquer largely non-Russian populations or trigger war with the West. 

But the Baltics’ demands for bases and garrisons, even while spending little on their own militaries, well capture the alliance’s history. NATO stands for North America and The Others. Europe possesses a population 70 percent larger than America’s, but spends only about 40 percent as much as on the military as the U.S. 

No matter America’s other obligations or Europe’s abundant capabilities. Washington is expected to do the serious work. Observed Jochen Bittner of Die Zeit newspaper, “major investments won’t happen here anytime soon. Europe is just not in the mood for it, neither economically nor politically.” 

According to the alliance, last year continent-wide military outlays finally edged up an infinitesimal amount, causing joyous celebrations at NATO’s new billion-plus dollar headquarters in Brussels. But the Europeans still aren’t serious about bulking up their capabilities. Observed the Financial Times: “As the NATO-led operation over Libya showed, even Europe’s big military powers, France and Britain, cannot conduct a major operation without the U.S. doing the heavy lifting.” 

Candidate Donald Trump recognized the problem. However, nothing will change if the president-elect reassures the Europeans about Washington’s support. 

A Trump administration has a unique opportunity to change this dynamic. So worried are the Europeans that some are talking about doing more militarily. There even is renewed discussion about creating an independent European military. 

However, such proposals all require greater military expenditures, which won’t happen if Washington continues to bail out its elders. Europeans have put far greater effort into shaming the president-elect into maintaining their comfortable status quo. 

But exactly why must Washington, more than seven decades after the conclusion of World War II, treat the continent as a helpless dependent? 

Ultimately, NATO should be turned over to the Europeans, allowing them to handle their defense as they desire. This would not mean cutting relations. There is much upon which the U.S. and Europe should cooperate. But that doesn’t mean Washington should subsidize its wealthier cousins when the latter don’t feel like paying for their own defense. 

Until now no U.S. president has been willing to stop playing this rigged international game. President Donald Trump should say no more. He can make defense mean defense if he chooses to do so.

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It think it's well time that Europe and particularly the European Union needs to put on their"big boy" pants and take the responsibility of providing security for the Continent. We simply cannot afford to support them militarily with a debt of twenty trillion dollars particularly when they don't beef up their own military capabilities. I have enough trust in President- Elect Trump that I am sure this situation is remedied. Europe has had 71 years to grow up and fend for themselves. I can guarantee you that it'll take miracle for them to do it by themselves.