Trump and the Article Five Shibboleth

Here is Bruce Thornton writing at Front Page Mag about the Article Five Shibboleth:

U.S. president makes another wise move on NATO.

The NeverTrump bitter-enders still can’t resist sniping at the president and his alleged éminence grise, Steve Bannon. Now it’s Trump’s “dangerous” refusal––despite advice from his national security advisors, and allegedly fomented by Bannon––to reassure fellow NATO members of his commitment to Article Five of the NATO treaty during the ceremonies in May celebrating NATO’s new headquarters in Brussels. According to Commentary’s Noah Rothman, for example, Trump’s snubbing of Article Five emboldens Russia, for it “undermines a credible American deterrence” and “invites Putin to test the parameters of Trump’s resolve, which could be disastrous.”

The inflation of Article Five into the West’s premier bulwark against aggression is one of the best examples of the magical thinking that ritualistic affirmations of toothless multinational treaties will keep the peace and deter enemies.

This belief, however, depends more on half-truths and political marketing than on facts. We often hear that NATO “avoided a major state conflict,” as one NeverTrumper wrote, in postwar Europe, and kept the Soviets at bay during the Cold War. But what kept the peace in Europe was the simple fact that the European nations did not have the means or the will to wage a war. They were too demoralized and too busy rebuilding their shattered economies, financed in part by the Marshall Plan’s $190 billion (in today’s money).

As for deterring the Soviets, it was the 300,000 American troops deployed in Germany between 1950 and 1990, and the 25,000 nuclear warheads in the U.S. arsenal threatening Mutually Assured Destruction that checked Soviet aggression, not the “military pygmies,” as NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson put it, of the European nations. NATO and Article Five were then and now a fig-leaf for allowing the European nations to hide the fact that their security was a benefit provided by American military power and funded by the U.S. taxpayer, freeing Europeans to concentrate on rebuilding their economies, and then creating their social-welfare, dolce vitaEUtopia.

Read more: Front Page Mag

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