EU leaders attending the Munich Security Conference are none too pleased with Donald Trump’s “America First” policy, believing it has led to an American “withdrawal” and has created “an unstable world.”
What they’re really complaining about is that they have to spend more on their own defense.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo challenged the NATO members in attendance when he said that “the West is winning, and we’re winning together.”
“I’m happy to report that the death of the transatlantic alliance is grossly exaggerated,” Pompeo insisted in a speech to the Munich Security Conference. “The West is winning, and we’re winning together.”
His remarks were in response to the forum’s theme of “westlessness” – and complaints by other speakers about President Donald Trump’s “America First” stance, which has led to increasing pressure on NATO allies to ramp up their military spending.
“It’s not about Europe following us — we want to work alongside you,” Pompeo said. “We want to work together.”
NATO is moribund. Except for Britain, and to some extent the Dutch, we got precious little help from the rest of the alliance in Afghanistan — including France and Germany, who fought over which nation should guard the airport in Kabul. The alliance still includes Turkey which is hostile to the West and just purchased anti-aircraft missiles from our potential adversary Russia. Our most loyal NATO friends are in Eastern Europe, whose peoples still remember what it was like under Communism.
French President Emanuel Macron is acting as if France still matters in the alliance.
“There’s an American policy that started several years ago and not just under this administration that includes a certain kind of withdrawal, of a rethink of its relationship with Europe,” Macron said.
“We cannot be the United States’ junior partner,” he added. “I’m impatient for European solutions.”
Oh, c’mon. NATO has been our “junior partner” for 70 years and we heard no complaints as long as we picked up so much of the tab for their national defense.
But Germany, too, apparently thinks that we’ve abandoned the concept of collective security just because we’re asking Europe — great big rich, comfortable, successful countries — to pay more to protect themselves.
In his opening remarks, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned that the United States would put its own interests first at the expense of allies.
“Our closest ally, the United States of America, under the current administration, rejects the very concept of the international community,” he said. ”‘Great again’ but at the expense of neighbors and partners,” Steinmeier added without naming Trump but referring to his “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan.
“Thinking and acting this way hurts us all,” he said.
Does Germany not “put its own interests first”? I am constantly amazed at the disconnect from reality that allows one to complain that the United States pursuing its own interests is somehow inimical to the idea of collective security.
Trump doesn’t reject the idea of an “international community.” He rejects the non-level playing field that America has been playing on since the end of World War II. Part of that has been by choice. But in international venues like NATO and the UN, we allow others to take advantage of us, ostensibly in the name of the “international community.” It’s what the world is used to and any changes make other nations uncomfortable.
Europe’s problem is that their fat, happy citizens don’t want to spend any more on defense and will follow the politicians that promise the least. Even if it means fatally weakening their defenses, they wouldn’t care as long as the politicians came up with more innovative ways to spend their money.
America’s future is the Pacific, not the Atlantic. A true America First policy recognizes this and looks to the East, not the West.