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May 31, 2017

Merkel and Trump are Both Right

Europeans should take their fate into their own hands.

European self-reliance is good for us (the US), good for them, and bad for Putin despite the nattering talking heads opining on how he is enjoying what appears to be a NATO spat. The first result of this need for self-reliance is that Germany will begin to up its contribution to NATO to the required 2%. Merkel had been pushing for that. According to The Economist, her opponent in the upcoming election Martin Schulz is against an increase in German defense expenditure. Trump has helped Merkel’s argument that Germany can’t free-ride on American expenditures. If German and other continental European contributions go up, NATO will be stronger, as it needs to be to confront an increasing Russian threat.

Merkel said: “The times in which we could totally rely on others are to some extent over, as I have experienced in the past two days.” Rebuilding Europe including our former adversaries after WWII was a brilliant stroke of US policy. An alliance with Europe is still crucial, but treating these countries as continuing dependents is no longer useful nor needed. The second benefit to Europe paying their fair share to NATO is that they will feel and act like equal partners.

The USSR used to draw a parallel between its construct of satellite countries and US-financed NATO. The comparison was always far-fetched but it is ironic that NATO remained US-financed as the satellites became independent nations. An alliance of equals will be a strong hedge against resurgent Russian colonialism. Trump and Merkel are helping make that alliance more equal.

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