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Donald Trump continues to HAMMER away at NATO’s necessity

With the passing of the Soviet Union, NATO is an alliance without a purpose, and the US president is not afraid to say so

Seraphim Hanisch

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Donald Trump continued his round of criticism for the aging North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as he prepared for an upcoming trip to Europe that will culminate in a July 16th summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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The New York Times noted that this critique was not met with the most appreciation:

Mr. Trump’s comments touched off a round of trans-Atlantic sniping with Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, that was sure to start the NATO meeting on a tense note.

“The U.S. is spending many times more than any other country in order to protect them,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter of the other members of the Atlantic alliance, hours before Air Force One left for Belgium. “Not fair to the U.S. taxpayer.”

He complained anew about trade deficits with the European Union, and seemed to threaten to cut American military spending in a bid to compel other NATO members to increase theirs.

The complaints reflected the degree to which Mr. Trump is coming into the summit meeting focused on his anger with NATO and his conviction that the alliance exploits American largess to the detriment of the United States. That is a stark departure from previous American presidents of both parties, who have tended to regard the alliance as an invaluable force for collective defense that reflects shared values among its members.

Mr. Trump’s remarks exacerbated concerns that he may torpedo the meeting that begins on Wednesday, and with it, the alliance’s efforts to show unity and solidarity in the face of global threats, including from Russia.

READ MORE: ‘Russia not to be isolated over Crimea’ – NATO head

However, this article notes that the point of view held by many in the mostly European alliance is still that Russia represents some sort of threat to the security of Europe. This is strongly disputed by both the Russian Federation leadership itself, and even by other powers in the world. The United States’ leadership largely holds to the same view, but a look at most of the rhetoric about this casts Russia and President Putin as threats akin to the Soviet era, and have largely ignored the reality of the changes that have come to the country since the fall of Communism in 1991.

A Fox News opinion piece by Harry J Kazianis puts forth an argument that in the following excerpts follows the thought that President Trump appears to believe as well:

The U.S. president understands one of the great cardinal rules of geopolitics that others seem to have forgotten: no alliance lasts forever. After almost 70 years, America and its NATO partners in Europe may be heading for a new relationship, while still remaining friends.

In an early morning tweet Tuesday, President Trump wrote: “Getting ready to leave for Europe. First meeting – NATO. The U.S. is spending many times more than any other country in order to protect them. Not fair to the U.S. taxpayer. On top of that we lose $151 Billion on Trade with the European Union. Charge us big Tariffs (& Barriers)!”

Tusk responded with a tweet of his own: “Dear @realDonaldTrump. US doesn’t have and won’t have a better ally than EU. We spend on defense much more than Russia and as much as China. I hope you have no doubt this is an investment in our security, which cannot be said with confidence about Russian & Chinese spending.”

History teaches us obvious reasons for the breakup of alliances. Circumstances and threats change. One country’s mortal enemy one day could be the nation’s best friend the next. Just look back at World War II – our enemies Germany, Japan and Italy are our allies today. Our ally Russia (part of the Soviet Union back then) is our adversary.

There is only one constant when it comes to smart foreign policy. A nation seeks allies and partnership where it has common interests. Sometimes those alliances lose their value or importance over time and break up.  

NATO was formed to defend against the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies. But the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact died in 1991 – and NATO’s original mission died then as well. Soviet tanks are no longer primed to head into Europe to conquer our NATO partners. NATO is now a world-class military alliance looking for a mission.

But today’s Russia is not the superpower threat that the Soviet Union was. Over the long-term, demographic issues, economic stagnation and questions of who succeeds Russian President Vladimir Putin clearly ensure Moscow is not the boogeyman it once was.

Much of the rest of the piece admittedly follows the narrative that the world is full of “threats” from China primarily, followed by North Korea and Russia as a tertiary threat, suggesting the rather mainstream view that the whole world is out to get America. This narrative is certainly the one being defended in Europe regarding the preservation of NATO itself. However, Mr. Kazianis has been forced to acknowledge that things do change:

All this means that America’s available diplomatic and military bandwidth that it can devote to Europe must change. We must face up to the fact that NATO, in its present form, is obsolete. The alliance must evolve into an organization led and mostly resourced by Europeans.

So, is America going to quit NATO and go back across the Atlantic or abandon its allies in Europe? Never. Does that mean a wave of isolationism has infected Washington and we won’t honor our treaty commitments or push back against Moscow in another crisis? Not at all.

But it does mean a fundamental shift in burden that a Europe blessed with wealth and riches can easily maintain. However, if Europe is unwilling or unable to field a credible armed force to take on challenges from Russia or elsewhere, we must question the utility of an alliance that is a shell of what it used to be.

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Adrenglouis robertBob SchmitzJames JohnsonDaisy Adler Recent comment authors
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Adreng
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Adreng

Even now, the European NATO members spend on their militaries far more than is necessary (except if there are plans to go on destabilizing countries with regime change wars). Even without counting the US, European NATO countries spend significantly more on their militaries than Russia. Such calculations are somewhat inaccurate because of different cost levels, so that absolute cost levels make the Russian military appear smaller than it actually is. But still, even just comparing the numbers of tanks, airplanes etc. European NATO members and Russia are on a similar level with European NATO members generally having more military equipment… Read more »

louis robert
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louis robert

So evidently simple!

In simple terms:

1. The literally bankrupt Empire cannot afford being an Empire any longer.

2. The Empire’s Trump is, in actual fact, permanently in a begging position.

3. Begging all over the world is what the Empire is now left doing.

4. That presupposes imperial decline, decadence, collapse and terminal fall.

5. “Interesting times” ahead!

Bob Schmitz
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Bob Schmitz

Trump goes into the NATO with his usual bluster. Basically a mafia protection racket: ´we´ll protect you when you pay up´ But the Europoodles don´t negotiate, but ask instead: what must we do to keep NATO? Why is it in our interest to be ´protected´ (= occupied) by the US??? The only rational negotiation position would be: No thanks mr Trump, but please get your stuff disassembled and shipped back to your country. The Euro members have a military budget 4.5 times that of Russia! OK, the US 12 x, but why not half the EU budget and become efficient… Read more »

James Johnson
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James Johnson

The US wants to convince every one that Russia must be out to conquer the world..
I don’t think the European Leaders really don’t take it very seriously. Why should they?

Daisy Adler
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Daisy Adler

Trump: “the U.S. is spending many times more than any other country in order to protect them.”

NATO annual budget: its civil budget for 2018 is €245.8 million, while its military budget for 2018 is €1.325 billion – a total of less than $2 billion a year, the US is paying 22% of it – or $440 million per year. When one knows that US spends some $2 billion per DAY, $440 million – or 20% of the US spending in ONE day – look like peanuts.

Daisy Adler
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Daisy Adler

Donald Hypocrite Trump: “What good is NATO if Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for gas and energy?”

What good is NATO if the United States are paying Russia billions of dollars for hundreds of thousands tons of Titanium, used by the American aircraft industry for their jets and commercial carriers, for RD-180 and RD-181 rocket engines used by American Atlas launchers, and pay Russia $81 million per seat to transport American astronauts to and from the International Space Station?

Daisy Adler
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Daisy Adler

“Trump said talk with Putin will be easier than with NATO allies”

Trump will never be able bùll$hitting president Putin as he did to the “allies”.

Gio Con
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Gio Con

Any extra money the Europeans put into a NATO can only come from one of two places: the people or the oligarchs. Both have their downsides.The oligarchs don’t want to give up a cent of their profits; but increasing the burden on the average working person could well provoke unrest throughout Europe. Europe has seen its share of rebellions and revolutions — and the rich have learned their history lesson. No oligarch in Europe would dare say “Let them eat cake” again. The rich also know that money spent on NATO to “protect” Europe from Russia is just wasted money… Read more »

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Macron cuts ski holiday short, vowing crack down on Yellow Vests (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 109.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the 18th consecutive week of Yellow Vests protests in Paris. Following last weeks lower participation, Saturday’s Yellow Vests in Paris gathered larger crowds, with various outbreaks of violence and rioting that has been blamed on extreme elements, who French authorities claim have infiltrated the movement.

“Act XVIII” of the protests has shown that the Yellow Vests have not given up. France’s Champs-Élysées boulevard was where most of the violence occurred, with the street being left in a pile of broken glass and flames.

One day after Paris was set ablaze, French President Emmanuel Macron cut his ski holiday short, returning to Paris and vowing to take “strong decisions” to prevent more violence.

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Via Zerohedge


Paris awoke on Sunday to smouldering fires, broken windows and looted stores following the 18th consecutive Saturday of Yellow Vest protests.

Around 200 people were arrested according to BFM TV, while about 80 shops near the iconic Champs Elysees had been damaged and/or looted according to AFP, citing Champs Elysees committee president Jean-Noel Reinhardt.

The 373-year-old Saint Sulpice Roman Catholic church was set on fire while people were inside, however nobody was injured. The cause of the fire remains unknown.

The riots were so severe that French President Emmanuel Macron cut short a vacation at the La Mongie ski resort in the Hautes-Pyrénées following a three-day tour of East Africa which took him to Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Macron skied on Friday, telling La Depeche du Midi “I’m going to spend two-three days here to relax, to find landscapes and friendly faces,” adding “I’m happy to see the Pyrenees like that, radiant, although I know it was more difficult at Christmas” referring to the lack of snow in December.

In response to Saturday’s violence, Macron said over Twitter that “strong decisions” were coming to prevent more violence.

Macron said some individuals — dubbed “black blocs” by French police forces — were taking advantage of the protests by the Yellow Vest grassroots movement to “damage the Republic, to break, to destroy.” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Twitter that those who excused or encouraged such violence were complicit in it. –Bloomberg

The French President has family ties in the Hautes-Pyrénées, including Bagnères de Bigorre where his grandmother lived. He is a regular visitor to the region.

Emmanuel Macron (2ndL), head of the political movement In Marche! (Onwards!) And candidate for the 2017 presidential election, and his wife Brigitte Trogneux (L) have lunch April 12, 2017 (Reuters)

 

 

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Vesti calls out Pompeo on lying about Russia invading Ukraine [Video]

Secretary Pompeo displayed either stunning ignorance or a mass-attack of propaganda about what must be the most invisible war in history.

Seraphim Hanisch

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After the 2014 Maidan revolution and the subsequent secessions of Lugansk and Donetsk in Ukraine, and after the rejoining of Crimea with its original nation of Russia, the Western media went on a campaign to prove the Russia is (/ was / was about to / had already / might / was thinking about / was planning to … etc.) invade Ukraine. For the next year or so, about every two weeks, internet news sources like Yahoo! News showed viewers pictures of tanks, box trucks and convoys to “prove” that the invasion was underway (or any of the other statuses confirming the possibilities above stated.) This information was doubtless provided to US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.

Apparently, Secretary Pompeo believed this ruse, or is being paid to believe this ruse because in a speech recently, he talked about it as fact:

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Russia’s annexation of Crimea and aggression in eastern Ukraine an attempt to gain access to Ukraine’s oil and gas reserves.

He stated this at IHS Markit’s CERAWeek conference in Houston, the USA, Reuters reports.

Pompeo urged the oil industry to work with the Trump administration to promote U.S. foreign policy interests, especially in Asia and in Europe, and to punish what he called “bad actors” on the world stage.

The United States has imposed harsh sanctions in the past several months on two major world oil producers, Venezuela and Iran.

Pompeo said the U.S. oil-and-gas export boom had given the United States the ability to meet energy demand once satisfied by its geopolitical rivals.

“We don’t want our European allies hooked on Russian gas through the Nord Stream 2 project, any more than we ourselves want to be dependent on Venezuelan oil supplies,” Pompeo said, referring to a natural gas pipeline expansion from Russia to Central Europe.

Pompeo called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine an attempt to gain access to the country’s oil and gas reserves.

Although the state-run news agency Vesti News often comes under criticism for rather reckless, or at least, extremely sarcastic propaganda at times, here they rightly nailed Mr. Pompeo’s lies to the wall and billboarded it on their program:

The news anchors even made a wisecrack about one of the political figures, Konstantin Zatulin saying as a joke that Russia plans to invade the United States to get its oil. They further noted that Secretary Pompeo is uneducated about the region and situation, but they offered him the chance to come to Russia and learn the correct information about what is going on.

To wit, Russia has not invaded Ukraine at all. There is no evidence to support such a claim, while there IS evidence to show that the West is actively interfering with Russia through the use of Ukraine as a proxyWhile this runs counter to the American narrative, it is simply the truth. Ukraine appears to be the victim of its own ambitions at this point, for while the US tantalizes the leadership of the country and even interferes with the Orthodox Church in the region, the country lurches towards a presidential election with three very poor candidates, most notably the one who is president there now, Petro Poroshenko.

However, the oil and gas side of the anti-Russian propaganda operation by the US is significant. The US wishes for Europe to buy gas from American suppliers, even though this is woefully inconvenient and expensive when Russia is literally at Europe’s doorstep with easy supplies. However, the Cold War Party in the United States, which still has a significant hold on US policy making categorizes the sale of Russia gas to powers like NATO ally Germany as a “threat” to European security.

It is interesting that Angela Merkel herself does not hold this line of thinking. It is also interesting and worthy of note, that this is not the only NATO member that is dealing more and more with Russia in terms of business. It underscores the loss of purpose that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization suffers now since there is no Soviet Union to fight.

However, the US remains undaunted. If there is no enemy to fight, the Americans feel that they must create one, and Russia has been the main scapegoat for American power ambitions. More than ever now, this tactic appears to be the one in use for determining the US stance towards other powers in the world.

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Ariel Cohen explains Washington’s latest foreign policy strategy [Video]

Excellent interview Ariel Cohen and Vladimir Solovyov reveals the forces at work in and behind American foreign policy.

Seraphim Hanisch

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While the American people and press are pretty much complicit in reassuring the masses that America is the only “right” superpower on earth, and that Russia and China represent “enemy threats” for doing nothing more than existing and being successfully competitive in world markets, Russia Channel One got a stunner of a video interview with Ariel Cohen.

Who is Ariel Cohen? Wikipedia offers this information about him:

Ariel Cohen (born April 3, 1959 in Crimea in YaltaUSSR) is a political scientist focusing on political risk, international security and energy policy, and the rule of law.[1] Cohen currently serves as the Director of The Center for Energy, Natural Resources and Geopolitics (CENRG) at the Institute for Analysis of Global Security (IAGS). CENRG focuses on the nexus between energy, geopolitics and security, and natural resources and growth. He is also a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, within the Global Energy Center and the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center.[2] Until July 2014, Dr. Cohen was a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. He specializes in Russia/Eurasia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East.

Cohen has testified before committees of the U.S. Congress, including the Senate and House Foreign Relations Committees, the House Armed Services Committee, the House Judiciary Committee and the Helsinki Commission.[4] He also served as a Policy Adviser with the National Institute for Public Policy’s Center for Deterrence Analysis.[5] In addition, Cohen has consulted for USAID, the World Bank and the Pentagon.[6][7]

Cohen is a frequent writer and commentator in the American and international media. He has appeared on CNN, NBC, CBS, FOX, C-SPAN, BBC-TV and Al Jazeera English, as well as Russian and Ukrainian national TV networks. He was a commentator on a Voice of America weekly radio and TV show for eight years. Currently, he is a Contributing Editor to the National Interest and a blogger for Voice of America. He has written guest columns for the New York TimesInternational Herald TribuneChristian Science Monitor, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times, EurasiaNet, Valdai Discussion Club,[8] and National Review Online. In Europe, Cohen’s analyses have appeared in Kommersant, Izvestiya, Hurriyet, the popular Russian website Ezhenedelny Zhurnal, and many others.[9][10]

Mr. Cohen came on Russian TV for a lengthy interview running about 17 minutes. This interview, shown in full below, is extremely instructive in illustrating the nature of the American foreign policy directives such as they are at this time.

We have seen evidence of this in recent statements by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo regarding Russia’s “invasion” of Ukraine, and an honestly unabashed bit of fear mongering about China’s company Huawei and its forthcoming 5G networks, which we will investigate in more detail in another piece. Both bits of rhetoric reflect a re-polished narrative that, paraphrased, says to the other world powers,

Either you do as we tell you, or you are our enemy. You are not even permitted to out-compete with us in business, let alone foreign relations. The world is ours and if you try to step out of place, you will be dealt with as an enemy power.

This is probably justified paranoia, because it is losing its place. Where the United Stated used to stand for opposition against tyranny in the world, it now acts as the tyrant, and even as a bully. Russia and China’s reaction might be seen as ignoring the bully and his bluster and just going about doing their own thing. It isn’t a fight, but it is treating the bully with contempt, as bullies indeed deserve.

Ariel Cohen rightly points out that there is a great deal of political inertia in the matter of allowing Russia and China to just do their own thing. The US appears to be acting paranoid about losing its place. His explanations appear very sound and very reasonable and factual. Far from some of the snark Vesti is often infamous for, this interview is so clear it is tragic that most Americans will never see it.

The tragedy for the US leadership that buys this strategy is that they appear to be blinded so much by their own passion that they cannot break free of it to save themselves.

This is not the first time that such events have happened to an empire. It happened in Rome; it happened for England; and it happened for the shorter-lived empires of Nazi Germany and ISIS. It happens every time that someone in power becomes afraid to lose it, and when the forces that propelled that rise to power no longer are present. The US is a superpower without a reason to be a superpower.

That can be very dangerous.

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