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It’s Spengler Day. Spengler was the pseudonym of David Goldman who originally wrote for the Asia Times. He has a column now in Pajamas Media. His first essay is; Israel Shows What Alliances Are For.
A residual rancor against America’s $3 billion military aid budget to Israel still can be detected in the corners of the conservative movement. Yes, Israel is the only democracy in the region, and yes, Israel is an American ally, but Israel is out for Israel’s interests just as America is out for America’s interest — so why should American taxpayers subsidize the powerful and prosperous Jewish state?
Never mind that the $3 billion in military aid amounts to a Pentagon subsidy for American arms manufacturers. Never mind also that Israeli military technology and intelligence make an enormous (and largely untold) contribution to American security.
There’s a reason to maintain alliances in the cold light of Realpolitik which conservative isolationists refuse to consider: Allies can do things that we want done at much less risk to us and at far lower cost than if we were to do them directly.
Israel has substantially reduced Iran’s military capacity in Syria, for example, and has done so without provoking a confrontation with Russia. If the United States were to use its own planes to bomb Iranian installations in Syria, that would constitute a direct challenge to Russia’s presence in the country, and lead to a strategic confrontation that we do not want (and the isolationists want least of anyone). But Israel can do so, because Israel is no threat to Russia, and Israeli bombing raids in Syria do not humiliate the Kremlin. Israeli action keeps the matter on the local level, rather than escalating it to a matter of global tension. …
.. the United States gets enormous benefits by locking Israel into American weapons systems. First of all, Israel’s military R&D makes a huge contribution to our security. Its anti-rocket system, Iron Dome, was a minor miracle that the Pentagon did not believe possible at the time. More importantly, it aligns Israel with American interests, and encourages Israel to continue to take risks on our behalf.
All of the above should be obvious to anyone who knows the basic facts. President Donald Trump understands it clearly, and has done more than any American president to foster the Israeli-American alliance since Harry Truman recognized the new Jewish state in 1948. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that isolationists who still grumble about our alliance with Israel are victims of an ugly obsession.
Appearing in Asia Times, he says NATO’s problem is that Europeans won’t fight.
It is refreshing to hear an American president call the Europeans out for the sybarites and deadbeats they are.
President Trump outraged European opinion by denouncing his allies on the far side of the Atlantic for their failure to meet NATO’s spending target of 2% of GDP.
Other alliance members, he added, should spend 4% of their output on defense, just like America does. His dudgeon at the Europeans was more than justified: the Europeans really are deadbeats who don’t pay their fair share of the cost of defending their own countries and leave the burden in the hands of American soldiers and taxpayers.
Trump’s remonstrations will fall on deaf ears. Why should Europeans spend money on arms, when they have no intention of using them?
A recent opinion poll found that small minorities in the core European members of NATO were willing to fight for their country under any circumstances. …
… Something more than Locke’s notion of a mutual protection society is required if we are to justify the state’s monopoly of violence, its right to imprison or kill criminals at home, and to demand of its young people that they shed blood in its defense. The state must be imbued with a sense of the sacred and must stand surety for the continuity of our lives with those of generations that follow. It must preserve a heritage and a culture that allows our words and deeds to speak to future generations just as those of our ancestors speak to us.
Today’s Europe is something of a Lockean dystopia: It is composed of individuals concerned mainly about their own hedonic enjoyments, who want the government to protect them from want and disease, but have no desire whatever to defend their nations, which are on a slow boat to extinction in any event.
It is refreshing to hear an American president call the Europeans out for the sybarites and deadbeats they are, rather than repeat the old cant about the glories of the Atlantic Alliance and the gallantry of America’s allies.
Then he suggests that Trump could be one of our country’s great foreign policy presidents.
Below I repost Uwe Parpart’s Asia Times analysis of the Trump-Kim summit in Singapore. Liberal media is aghast at the president’s rough handling of Canadian boy-band frontman Justin Trudeau, and his confrontational approach overall at the Group of Seven summit. When the dust settles, though, Trump may accomplish what eluded Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama: a stabler and safer world without the need for millions of American boots on the ground. He well may go down in history as one of our great foreign policy presidents. It’s not in the bag, but it is within sight. …
… Of course, Trump can’t please everybody. German Chancellor Angela Merkel complains that Trump is being too nice to Russia by suggesting that it rejoin the Group of Seven. Considering that Germany spends just 1.2% of GDP on defense and can’t get more than four fighters in the air at any given moment, that’s chutzpah. Merkel’s policy is to talk tough about sanctions against Russia while rolling over for Putin when it comes to Germany’s gas supplies, which will be supplied by the just-started Nord Stream II pipeline from Russia. Germany likes to wag a finger at Russia over its depredations in Ukraine, but only 18% of Germans say they will fight to defend their country. Trump’s policy is to rebuild American strength and stand up to Russia, while looking for ways to strike agreements with Russia–on American terms. That’s the difference between speak softly and carry a big stick, and declaim loudly while waving a bratwurst. If the Germans don’t want to spend money on defense, let alone fight, that’s their business, but they shouldn’t lecture us about how to handle the competition. …