The Czar hasn’t been neglecting his mail, but the question below was a pretty tough one from Operative B. Donald Trump, despite all his massive failures as a logician, poses a reasonable question: why not just chuck NATO, or at least force Europe to pay their fair share?
Well, there’s no question that historically, NATO has been a positive driver in the huge eradication of communism from every except China, Vietnam, Cuba, and American college campuses. The United States could have pushed the Soviet Union out of Europe on its own, sure, but having Europe engaged so heavily made it a lot easier. Libertarians who want the United States to be a limited National Guard force consistently fail to realize that between 1812 and today, most of the wars we fought defensively on started over there somewhere, and not in Utica or Reno. Having bases in Europe, with American troops co-trained with Europeans, worked demonstrably well in staving off Soviet incursions not just in Western Europe, but in oceans all over the world. Any reasonable person concludes that NATO, up to 1989, was worth every penny in saving lives.
But what about after 1989? Sure, Putin is a criminal thug, but he’s not really the same thing as global communism, is he? Do we really need to spend billions on NATO submarines, air forces, and ground troops just because Putin is an old-school mobster with nuclear weapons he’d sooner sell than launch? Can’t those forces be better deployed against the War on Terror?
That’s a lot of maybes. Yet the biggest reason people think NATO is a useless mess of red tape is because—under President Obama—that’s precisely what it is. Under other presidents, NATO remained a powerful check against Putin’s expansionist plans. Don’t take it from the Czar; take it from someone who knows both sides of the problem personally:
If it weren't for NATO, the Baltics would have been overrun by Putin long ago. Georgia & Ukraine could have been protected, and should be.
— Garry Kasparov (@Kasparov63) April 22, 2016
That’s a whole lot of rebuttal right, there. Without NATO, Europe would already look a lot different. For crying out loud, even a military moron like the President understands this. He would have shredded NATO years ago and dumped the money into gun control legislation if he could have—instead, he sent a carrier group to the North Atlantic—which is being buzzed by Russian warplanes practicing bombing runs, if you can believe it.
Georgia and the Ukraine are proof enough that Putin is a conquering bastard bad guy, no different than the Soviets before him in Afghanistan, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. And rolling into Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia are not just possibilities to a Russian—they’re necessities. The history of all three countries (and yes, Finland’s too) is replete with invasions from Russia or the Soviets. It’s what they do.
NATO? Absolutely critical in 2016. Unfortunately, it’s been handcuffed by a slow-to-act President. Yes, the Democrats agree Bush is on the hook for doing nothing about Georgia, but Georgia isn’t a NATO member. Neither is the Ukraine—but Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia are, and guess why they were so quick to join?
All right, if the Czar can’t convince you that NATO is a critical component to United States foreign interests, we can at least move on to who pays for it.
Who does pay for NATO? This is a tough question to answer because NATO has been part of American military structure for so long that it’s difficult to really separate. And NATO is funded in different ways, by different rules. And what a country pays to be part of NATO is not always what a country spends on NATO, either. It’s a mess.
But a couple of key points: first, the United States does not pay the “lion’s share” of NATO. In fact, across the different funding mechanisms, the United States pays only about 22% of the organization. Yes, no one pays more than us (Germany pays the second most, Italy third, and so forth). But this is based more on population than anything: typically, dues are assessed as 2% of GDP; this means no matter what, the United States pays more than Canada. Or Britain.
However, other countries can and do pay more than than 2% based on need. Poland and Estonia—both fearful of Russian expansion efforts—authorized themselves to pay over this amount. Surprisingly, so does Greece—but a few countries are also paying less than ever on NATO: Belgium, Bulgaria, Italy… and the United States, which has been slowing down how much it’s been contributing.
So yes—it’s tough to say exactly how much the United States spends on NATO at any given moment, but—follow along, Mr. Trump—we don’t pay substantially more than our fair share. And as long as we want to keep Russia out of Europe, and we do, we need NATO. And when it comes to international organizations, there are few better examples of a decently run organization.
Now, how about we ask a better question: why are Americans paying the same amount to fund the United Nations? And why are we paying more than everyone else to fund its peacekeeping operations?
Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй. The Czar was born in the steppes of Russia in 1267, and was cheated out of total control of all Russia upon the death of Boris Mikhailovich, who replaced Alexander Yaroslav Nevsky in 1263. However, in 1283, our Czar was passed over due to a clerical error and the rule of all Russia went to his second cousin Daniil (Даниил Александрович), whom Czar still resents. As a half-hearted apology, the Czar was awarded control over Muscovy, inconveniently located 5,000 miles away just outside Chicago. He now spends his time seething about this and writing about other stuff that bothers him.