Donald Trump is an idiot who doesn’t know anything about NATO. This isn’t surprising at this point, but the man’s devotion to the bit is certainly impressive; he has reduced the entire premise of the historic treaty to some sort of strange business deal in which the United States is getting ripped off because we are paying too much money and other nations aren’t paying enough money and that’s not how any of this works but not a single staffer has, at any point, been able to explain anything about NATO to his shouting dullard other than Me Like Money. You Pay Money. Dramatic Burp.
The United States is spending far more on NATO than any other Country. This is not fair, nor is it acceptable. While these countries have been increasing their contributions since I took office, they must do much more. Germany is at 1%, the U.S. is at 4%, and NATO benefits…….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2018
…Europe far more than it does the U.S. By some accounts, the U.S. is paying for 90% of NATO, with many countries nowhere close to their 2% commitment. On top of this the European Union has a Trade Surplus of $151 Million with the U.S., with big Trade Barriers on U.S. goods. NO!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2018
Again, what Trump is obsessing over like a man trying to fish a nickel out of a deep and muddy storm drain is that back in 2014 NATO members issued a nonbonding call for each country to bump up defense spending to about 2 percent of its national GDP. This was a simple and un-nuanced way to suggest each nation pull its own weight; in practice, it’s been difficult for small countries to ramp up military spending so dramatically because they have little infrastructure to spend it on (see: Iceland) and because few countries are willing to burn enormous heaps of money via the United States-preferred cash-furnaces of nuclear aircraft carriers and the world’s most expensive fighter jets.
While slow going, the call to boost spending has been effective; most nations have indeed been increasing their military budgets—and a large reason for that is Russian military aggression. The NATO alliance was formed in the first place as a counter to Soviet military aggressions in Europe; Putin’s unsubtle ambitions to retake old Soviet-held territory in the name of a new greater Russia, and especially the Russian military invasion and occupation of Crimea, have instilled a new sense of urgency in European nations now facing a new and substantive military threat from the Russian kleptocracy.
That’s right: NATO is urging members to spend more money in large part to combat Russian aggression. If you explained to Donald Trump that the primary reason NATO members have been seeking to dramatically increase defense spending is to protect themselves from Putin’s Russia, however, he would likely look at you in a stupor. The man knows that NATO should be spending more money to build up their military—but he doesn’t have the foggiest idea why. The man is, we repeat, a f–king idiot. He is a screen door without the screen; he is a scooped-out pumpkin rotting on a porch long after Halloween has passed.
Indeed, while Trump burps out his One Remembered Talking Point on NATO, that everybody should be spending more money (he still appears to believe NATO members owe this money to the United States, which is not even close to being true unless one presumes that Trump expects every nation to purchase new F-35 military jets from America in order to make up the difference, which he might), the biggest news in the lead-up to the NATO summit has been Trump’s threats to pull the United States out of NATO entirely—an effort to unravel the alliance that just happens to coincide with one of the Russian government’s own most long-sought ambitions.
Which is it? Do NATO members need to spend vastly more money in order to counter new military aggressions from Putin’s government, or are those and other world aggressions so inconsequential that NATO is no longer needed at all? Don’t ask tantrum-boy, he doesn’t have the slightest idea what he’s even arguing for. At no point has Trump been able to coherently explain what NATO is or why the United States belongs to it in the first place; as usual, he continues to treat the presidency as one of his cheap private business endeavors, imagining it can only count as successful if Donald Trump is personally screwing every other entity he comes into contact with for whatever pocket change they can toss his direction.
If there’s good news here, it’s that even United States allies have so little respect for Trump that they for the most part are still mostly ignoring his outbursts, waiting until the windowsill-licking idiot dies, resigns, or is voted out of office in the hope that the United States then regains some basic sense of sanity. Nobody takes him seriously. Even European responses to Trump’s new trade wars have been custom-tailored to punish Trump’s base specifically, rather than our nation as a whole, confirming that they indeed see the current Republican-led administration as being a separate beast from the United States proper. Most of our allies will welcome the United States back into the world fold with open arms, once this transcendentally stupid moron skips town.
Presuming, of course, Republicans don’t follow up with an even worse, even dumber jackass. Which is a more likely possibility than either we or those other nations are calculating, given the shit-for-brains voices still being peddled by the ascendent Fox News wing of the party even now, as this dimwit malcontent fouls up every law, treaty, international partnership, and basic ethical norm he fumbles across each day.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.