Essay: Is Donald Trump's NATO policy good for American national interests?
Anybody who has been paying attention to politics should know that President Donald Trump has been demanding that members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) contribute at least 2% of their national gross domestic products (GDPs) to defense spending.
Anybody who is not a left-wing political hack should understand that President Trump has good intentions when it comes to this demand. After all, members of NATO are bound by treaty -- by international law -- to make such contributions. One can also argue that because NATO weaponry is mostly American-made, increased European defense spending will fill the coffers of the arms industry. More demand for American-made weaponry means more job opportunities for factory workers who are in desperate need for employment due to the recent mass outsourcing of factory jobs to the Third World. That would be two of President Trump's key campaign promises kept in one move. America would be well on its way to becoming great again. Right?
The key premise of "Make America Great Again" is to enforce American national interests. Is the NATO policy described in the previous paragraphs good for American national interests? That is highly debatable. Given the current geopolitical reality, there are two serious downsides to this policy: National Globalism and Islamism. This essay will discuss these downsides with the intent to spark debate.
National Globalism: The cause of the next great European war?
When members of NATO purchase weapons from the United States, what do they intend to do with them? They intend to use them in armed conflict. Is it inevitable that these weapons will be used in armed conflict? Yes. There is the War on Terror. However, there is also a second armed conflict that has not yet begun, but may well be inevitable. A major war in Europe itself. The cause of such a war? National Globalism.
Right now, the global political divide is on the lines between nationalism and globalism. However, no reasonable person would predict that this global political divide will last forever. Indeed, the global political divides between anti-Fascism and Fascism, and between Capitalism and Communism are now things of the past. The former ended in 1945, the latter in 1991. The current global political divide will meet the same fate. When and why, I cannot say for certain, but I strongly suspect it will be within the next decade, due to the rise of National Globalism.
National Globalism is on the rise due to the creation of two supranational unions: the European Union (EU) and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). Both unions are designed to use free trade and other globalist ideals to slowly integrate their member states politically, economically, and militarily, until they lose their sovereignty completely, and merge to become a regional super-state. Or if the official ideology of the super-state is nationalism and not globalism (such as called for by European Identitarians and Russian Eurasianists), a super-nation.
In the EU, the charge for National Globalism is being led by Germany. In the EAEU, it is being led by Russia. Both unions have been competing for member states to add and eventually annex. This competition can and has led to armed conflict in smaller European countries.
For example, the Ukraine crisis originated from a political debate over whether Ukraine should forge closer ties (and perhaps eventually join) the EU or the EAEU. This political debate escalated into nationwide violence and eventually the pro-EU opposition overthrowing the pro-EAEU government in a coup. Just 26 days after the coup, Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula following a referendum held in response to the coup. Meanwhile, armed uprisings among the ethnic Russian population in eastern Ukraine plunged the country into what seems like an endless war. A debate continues to this day regarding the legality of both the coup and the referendum. But that is a separate issue.
Regardless of what one thinks of the coup or the referendum, it is perfectly clear that both the EU/Germany and the EAEU/Russia are willing to sponsor violent uprisings, annex territory, and even help start full-scale wars to pave the way for the super-states they want. And yes, I'm well aware that the EAEU did not exist in March 2014. But the EAEU treaty was already well into development and was 8 1/2 months from coming into effect at the time. There cannot be any doubt that EAEU membership for Ukraine was on Russian President Vladimir Putin's mind when he tried unsuccessfully to keep Ukraine in Russia's economic orbit. That being said, the behavior demonstrated by both sides has major repercussions for the course of history. Not only will it encourage powers in other regions of the world to pursue National Globalism as a means for a "21st century imperialism," but it will also provide a justification for existing National Globalist unions to accelerate integration of its member states as a "defense mechanism against outside forces." Today, the latter event is precisely what is happening in Europe.
In response largely to the rise of Donald Trump, the un-elected bureaucrats who run the EU have -- with the blessing of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron -- escalated calls for a more integrated union independent of American influence. This has led to policies including but not limited to the PESCO agreement, the intended progenitor of a common European "defense" force that can and inevitably will be used to keep the EU from splitting apart. Ratified in January 2018, all but three EU members have signed, the exceptions being Denmark, Malta, and the United Kingdom. As relations between President Trump and Europe continue to worsen over trade, Iran, NATO defense spending, Brexit, American hegemony over the continent, and other issues, the push for a more integrated European Union by its bureaucrats will only grow stronger.
What will happen in response to further European integration? Chaos. Further Eurasian integration. Further competition between the EU and the EAEU. More armed conflicts. And perhaps worst of all, the rise of great powers that are more than capable of threatening not just American hegemony outside the Western Hemisphere, but the ability for the United States to keep the Western Hemisphere an American backyard as called for in the Monroe Doctrine. Europe is already hostile to the United States as is. Does President Trump really want Europe's hostility to become something more than just toothless whining? He probably doesn't, but perhaps he may well not care, given his non-interventionism and desire to make peace among allies and adversaries alike.
But he must care. What if peace does not prevail in this situation? What if the United States has to end up going to war to protect its national interests in Europe or Eurasia, namely the ages-old interest in preventing a European or Asian hegemon from becoming powerful enough to threaten the Monroe Doctrine? Is President Trump willing to tell the families of dead soldiers, "your son/daughter died in combat against a country that was supposed to be an American ally, because instead of abandoning the obsolete NATO and cutting our losses abroad while rebuilding at home, I demanded that Europe re-arm and fill our coffers with defense spending even though I knew well what it was turning into?" Is President Trump willing to risk his administration going down in history as a failure for contributing to what would easily be the worst international crisis since World War II, all in the name of profits and jobs for an industry that makes up only a small portion of the American economy but may well be the most powerful American industry?
Is this NATO policy worth it? Or does a better option exist for President Trump to make America great again without having to sacrifice the life of even one American soldier?
Islamism: The rise of Erdoğan's Turkey
If the EU's transition from Globalism to National Globalism doesn't prove to be the mortal threat to President Trump's NATO policy, then the rise of the Erdoğan regime in Turkey will.
While I may be virtually alone in arguing that we may be headed for a military conflict with the EU, I am not alone in arguing the same regarding Turkey. In 2018, Turkey cannot be described as an ally, or even a friend. It can be described as an adversary at best, and an outright enemy at worst. Under the increasingly tyrannical leadership of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey has abandoned the secular and pro-West political culture created by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and replaced it with a political culture that syncretizes Sunni Islamism with Turanism, a radical pan-nationalist ideology that calls for the creation of a Ural-Altaic empire spanning from the Carpathian Mountains to the Siberiaand is often anti-Christian, anti-Germanic, anti-Slavic, and anti-Semitic.
- Turkey is now friendlier to Russia and Iran than it is to the United States. Although historically both countries have been enemies of Turkey (Turkey and Russia/Iran support opposing sides in the Syrian War), Erdoğan considers the United States to be the greatest evil among the other three countries, for both geopolitical and ideological reasons (the United States has been backing Saudi Arabia in what is increasingly resembling a cold war between the Saudis and Turkey over hegemony of the Sunni world). Hence, Erdoğan has been moving closer to Russia while making anti-American, anti-West, and anti-NATO incitement key themes of his more recent speeches.
- The check/balance on the Turkish government that was once guaranteed by the once-secular Turkish military, has been completely destroyed. The old guard has been purged and replaced with corrupt, undisciplined political hacks with known admiration for -- if not direct ties to -- radical imams, far left ideologues, radical nationalists, and gang leaders (both mafioso and street). That alone is bad enough. If Erdoğan himself doesn't decide to start a major war first, one of those corrupt, undisciplined hacks may well do it for him.
- Turkey has become a state sponsor of terrorism. Erdoğan supports and arms both Hamas and al-Qaeda. His son-in-law personally profited off oil illicitly traded by ISIS. Turkey has served as a mobilization base for ISIS.
- Erdoğan has pursued an increasingly aggressive foreign policy. Turkish troops illegally occupy parts of both Syria and Iraq. Turkey has laid claims to parts of Greece and Bulgaria. Border incidents between Turkey and Greece have skyrocketed. Erdoğan and his synchophants have repeatedly threatened Israel with an "Army of Islam."  Erdoğan has threatened to attack American forces in Syria. Turkey and Saudi Arabia came close to war last year over the crisis in Qatar. And let's not forget how Turkey nearly started World War III in 2015 by shooting down a Russian fighter jet over Syria.
It cannot be mistaken that Donald Trump's NATO policy, if successful, will result in a military buildup of a what can only be described as a rogue state that likely will be involved in -- at best -- a cold war with the United States. To make matters even worse, I personally believe it is unlikely Turkey will leave NATO in the coming future even after the United States imposed sanctions over the imprisonment of American pastor Andrew Brunson in Turkey, likely on false pretenses.. Why? Because Turkey cannot win a war against the United States without having one of the other (potential) superpowers as an ally.
China is too weak to project a large military presence outside East Asia, and Russia has too many anti-Turkish allies (such as Syria and Armenia) and too many historical memories to be considered a reliable ally for Turkey. But what about Germany, and the United States of Europe that Merkel and the EU bureaucrats want? Considering that like Turkey, many of the EU's member states are NATO members who are increasingly seeing the United States as an adversary due to President Trump's foreign policy, it is possible that Erdoğan is staying in NATO in hopes of creating a scenario where both the United States and Turkey invoke Article V against each other, and NATO splits along ideological lines on which side to support, causing the United States to be distracted by a major war in Europe and perhaps accelerating European integration to make a United States of Europe that is friendly to Turkey a reality. This may sound like a crack pipe dream, but given Erdoğan's well-documented delusions of grandeur, I will not be at all surprised if that strategy is indeed part of his foreign policy. That makes him all the more dangerous.
Is President Trump willing to tell the families of dead soldiers, "your son/daughter died because my NATO policy resulted in a rogue state that we kept pretending was our ally armed to the teeth and dragged us into a major, unnecessary war?"
Or is he willing to abandon his NATO policy in favor of something more pragmatic, perhaps withdrawing from NATO regardless of how much its members spend on defense and starting a new alliance from scratch with other NATO members who, like him, are disillusioned with the status quo?