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Today's NATO Mission Is to Preserve Itself

January 24, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Washington is filled with outrage these days, and most of it
surrounds President Donald Trump. But sometimes it arises for the
wrong reasons. Years ago, Trump chastised our feckless allies for
expecting the United States to protect them as part of NATO. As
president, he continued to criticize the alliance and apparently
privately suggested that America withdraw from it. Which, some of
his critics tell us, proves that he is an agent of Russian
President Vladimir Putin.

Actually, the president’s sentiments illustrate his good sense
on this issue. He frequently irritates even his friends. But that
doesn’t mean he’s incorrect.

Forget foreign policy for a moment. Uncle Sam is broke. The
Republicans opened the Treasury’s doors by simultaneously upping
spending and cutting taxes. The deficit soared past $700 billion,
the highest since 2012, as America dealt with the financial crisis.
This year, the annual deficit will hit $1 trillion. Within a
decade, it will run $1.5 trillion.

The alliance is
scrambling for purpose in a changed world. Trump is right to
consider leaving.

The Congressional Budget Office’s latest report reads like a
horror movie script, forecasting more debt, rising interest rates,
and skyrocketing interest payments. On top of that are rapidly
rising entitlement outlays. At some point, Washington will have to
stem the red tide.

That will mean hiking taxes, a Republican Party no-no, or
cutting spending. Today, roughly 85 percent of the budget is
accounted for by interest payments (repudiate the debt?), Medicaid
(health care for the poor is already pretty awful), Social
Security, and Medicare (good luck convincing those in assisted
living facilities to accept lower benefits). And military outlays,
which today mostly go to protecting prosperous and populous allies
and remaking failed societies, neither of which does much to
advance America’s security.

So how should a president responsible to the American people
address the tsunami of red ink? He could hike exactions on or cut
benefits to Americans. Or he could reduce subsidies for rich
foreign friends. This really isn’t a tough choice.

There’s also the fairness issue. Americans and Europeans have a
long and important shared history. In the aftermath of World War
II, the U.S. sensibly bore the burden of protecting war-torn
Western European nations from Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union. It was
in America’s interest to prevent any country, especially the Soviet
dystopia, from dominating Eurasia. No one else could perform that
service at the time.

However, World War II ended 74 years ago. Joseph Stalin died 66
years ago. The Berlin Wall fell three decades ago. The Soviet Union
dissolved shortly thereafter. Over that period of time, the
Europeans recovered economically—they now possess 10 times
Russia’s GDP—created the …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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