Trump said that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is “obsolete.” He also charged that only five of the 28 members were paying their “fair share” of NATO’s costs.
He’s half right. NATO, itself, said that only five member-states had met the defense-spending goal of 2% of Gross Domestic Product in the past year.
On the other hand, Trump’s claim that NATO is obsolete is rubbish. It should be clear to anyone with even the slightest grasp of international affairs that NATO is perhaps more important, now, than it has been since the presumptive end of the Cold War.
I say “presumptive” and claim that the Cold War never ended. The fall of the Soviet Union—the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)—was followed by the rape of Russia by the remnants of the Soviet Committee for State Security (better known as the KGB). One of the most notorious KGB thugs is now running Russia with more absolute power than was exercised by any Tsar. Make no mistake: Putin wants to reclaim all the countries that once were part of the USSR, and more. He wants to break up the European Union and break the United States.
Does anyone remember, “United we stand; divided we fall”? Putin knows that, and so does Trump. They seem to be allied in an attempt to break NATO and the European Union, and perhaps the United States.
Does anyone really think Trump is going to bring people together when he has an established record of scorning women, Muslims, Latinx, African-Americans, the disabled, and anyone who dares challenge him?
Getting back to NATO, General James “Mad Dog” Mattis, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, at a confirmation hearing, said that NATO was central to the defense of the United States. Trump says one thing; Mattis says another. Makes one wonder which inmate is running this particular asylum.
(You remember Mattis, don’t you? He’s the one who said, “It’s fun to shoot some people” and “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”)
Perhaps the worst news this week is that Trump promised to “keep” Twitter after he is inaugurated, because, “I can go bing, bing, bing” in response to “dishonest” news.
Dishonest news, and anyone who dares criticize or disagree with him.
Emile Zola is famous for J’Accuse…!, a letter to the editor of L’Aurore in which he accused the French government of anti-Semitism and the unlawful jailing of Alfred Dreyfus. There is a time to criticize. There is a time to speak out. There is a time to accuse. But to use what has become an electronic Bully Pulpit to castigate, to sling ad hominems, to belittle critics, and to lie is a stone cold attack on free speech. Mr. Trump, the Bully Pulpit of the presidency does not give you license to bully.
Zola: start at Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J'accuse) and follow the links at the end of the article.
Bully Pulpit was coined by President Theodore Roosevelt to mean the White House as a place from which he could speak and be heard. Google the term, and follow the links.
Mattis quotations: https://www.conservativereview.com/commentary/2016/12/9-of-the-most-memorable-things-mad-dog-mattis-has-said (and elsewhere)
Registered Curmudgeon, scientist, skeptic, humanist, and writer.