Mr. Trump fired off a shot during the campaign, saying that NATO was obsolete. That created an international stir and unraveled some old guard Republicans. Whether you agree with Trump’s opinion or not, the U.S. needs to trim some fat off the budget. At the very least, taking another look at the cost of NATO is warranted.
To some, NATO seems to exist for a single purpose; to offset a Soviet Union threat. However, the Soviet Union has been defunct for more than 20 years, and the Berlin Wall came down under Pres. Reagan. Russia holds democratic elections, Communism has long given way to Capitalism, and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright even floated the Russians an opportunity to join NATO. That may come as a surprise to American taxpayers who shell out $650 billion a year to defend Europe from the “Evil Empire.” In fact, the EU and Russia are now tremendous international trade partners.
In 1997, Russia and the EU entered into the Partnership of Cooperation Agreement and in 2012, Russia joined the World Trade Organization. These political and economical deals have resulted in Europe being Russia’s main trading partner and primary investor. Basically, Russia exports raw materials to the EU and imports manufactured products from them. It’s a win-win. When you look at these factors, in terms of U.S. defense policy, Trump appears to be on solid ground saying that NATO, as it stands, is obsolete and needs to be renegotiated.
On the other hand, NATO does enforce UN-mandates, like serving in Kosovo and keeping Afghanistan from being a safe haven for terrorists. NATO troops patrol the coasts of Somalia the Mediterranean in the hopes of ending piracy and terrorism. They’ve also provided aid in times of crisis — even here in the U.S., after Hurricane Katrina.
It really comes down to money, as usual. Is NATO worth the expense? If the countries that participate in funding it used those same funds to do what NATO is doing for them, would it be more cost-effective for them — and us? With economics the way they are right now, reviewing how we might put $650 billion a year to better use seems like a no-brainer. What do you think?