Obama Defends EU, NATO Amid Doubts About Trump’s European Policy


#1

bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-12/obama-defends-eu-nato-amid-doubts-about-trump-s-european-policy

**Obama Defends EU, NATO Amid Doubts About Trump’s European Policy

President Barack Obama delivered a staunch defense of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, amid lingering doubts about the commitment of his successor Donald Trump to maintaining the ties between the U.S. and its closest allies.

“The EU and NATO are extraordinary forces for peace and stability,” Obama said in an interview with Greece’s Kathimerini newspaper before visits next week to Athens and Berlin. “Europe is our largest economic partner and we have a profound economic interest in a Europe that is stable and growing.”

Trump’s victory drew a chilly reaction from some European leaders, after the real-estate mogul in his campaign derided a free trade agreement that Obama’s administration has been negotiating with the EU, and called NATO an “obsolete” alliance for which the U.S. pays “far too much.” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has said NATO allies are “irritated” with the president elect’s NATO comments, while European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker mocked Trump on Friday for having allegedly called Belgium a village.

“We need to do is to teach to the president-elect what Europe consists of, and based on what principles Europe functions,” said Juncker, the head of EU’s executive arm.

Greatest Achievements

In his interview with Kathimerini, Obama hailed European integration as “one of the greatest political and economic achievements of modern times, with benefits for EU members, the United States and the entire world.” His soothing defense may do little to quell concerns in Europe in the absence of more clarity from Trump about his plans for foreign policy and trade.

“After World War II, the U.S has been the guarantor of Europe’s freedom,” said Panagiotis Pikrammenos, former prime minister of Greece. “If this role is being put into question in a potential policy shift from Trump, then Europe will have to renegotiate the whole spectrum of its relations with the U.S,” Pikrammenos said in a phone interview.

EU foreign ministers will meet over dinner on Sunday in Brussels to discuss ties with the U.S. with Trump as president. A joint session of foreign and defense ministers from the bloc is scheduled for Monday, a day before Obama begins his visits to Greece and Germany.**


#2

I am reserving all judgement regarding his presidency until I hear what he intends towards Europe.

It is this dimension of his mandate that personally troubles me more than any other, which won’t surprise folks on this forum I am sure given my signature quote and trenchant Europhilia.

I do not have high expectations based upon his past remarks and so fear the worst but will retain an open-mind until he decides to pontificate some more on this issue.


#3

Personally, I am neutral as to what happens to the EU and NATO. I don’t see why America really needs them and at the same time I don’t really mind if we do decide to stick with them. Maybe that makes me indecisive or something. :smiley:


#4

If the United States wants to offer support to another country in doesn’t need to be through a binding alliance such as NATO. Each situation bears a different set of subjective circumstances. The United States should be able to make these decisions independent of other nations. This would apply to other countries, as well.


#5

Trump’s admin, as far as I can tell will concentrate on the US initially. I suspect he will ask NATO countries to contribute more to the force. However I don’t see that as something the EU would be necessarily against.


#6

If that is all it amounts too, then no - he is liable to find considerable and widespread support on that front now, given the push for greater defence spending in many EU countries.

I am worried, however, that he will go far beyond just that. We shall see.


#7

Like what? I don’t remember him saying anything that would affect the EU.


#8

Trade and security generally.

TTIP for one, looks to be going the way of the DoDo after years of painstaking negotiation, unless Trump takes a huge U-Turn on free trade - which somehow I doubt.

I am concerned that he will insist not just that NATO members contribute more towards the common budget (as the UK already does at the requisite threshold) but say or do something off-the-cuff that will undermine the U.S.A’s traditionally ironclad commitment to abiding by the Article 5 collective security pledge. It’s primary value for vulnerable countries like the Baltics, that have the most to fear from Russian revanchism, is in its ability to act as a “deterrent”.

You can’t have a proper deterrent if the main deterrentor is uncertain if he really wants to uphold it.

I am really scared that Trump, being a notorious live-wire who has continually flattered and traded compliments with Putin, will do something disastrous in this area.


#9

I think the issue is that the majority of NATO countries are not paying the 2% of GDP per the guidelines set 10 or 15 years ago, where as the US pays 3.5% - 4.0% of GDP. The last I looked only 3 or 4 NATO countries actually meet or exceed the guidelines. I think the US accounts for 22 or 23% of the total NATO direct costs.

The reason that is problematic for the US is that the majority of those expenditures is to keep Europe safe. The question then is why the US should pay a disproportionate share of the cost to protect a continent that could not directly return the favor. The US expends more than 2 times more on defense spending than EU countries despite the fact that the EU combined GDP is a couple percentage higher than the US.

Personally I think Trump will push for better cost distributions and for EU countries to increase their own militaries to shift some of the European defense burden off US shoulders. The US forgave many European countries debts after WWII and then spent significant amounts to defend the countries. That has allow those countries to grow over the last 70 years and increase their socialised systems. The non-US NATO countries are going to have to figure out how to shift their domestic spending to pickup a fairer share of their defense. I do wonder if they can foot the defense spending while maintaining the same levels of socialised services.

Long and short is President-elect Trump is a negotiator and is likely trying to setup the negotiations by saying that withdrawl is the worst case, but hey we can be magnanimous and we will do 19% and the EU countries need to take the other 3% out of their higher GDP. I truly think he is looking at cost shifting rather than full withdrawl. The best way to negotiate is to have your opponents start from a fear of loosing everything.


#10

Trade deals that are thought to be negative towards the American worker should not be made, even if major international corporations want them.

Trump is willing to work with Putin, but he is no fool and is quick to be insulted. If Putin tries any shenanigans, expect to see Trump verbally fight back. However the days of the US playing world police at the beck and call of the EU are over.


#11

Full withdrawal is a dangerous concept to even moot as a serious possibility. It is playing with fire in view of the interpretation that our enemies could surmise from such a proposal. Seventy plus years of peace and stability in Europe have been secured under the umbrella of the deterrent potential of American hard power backed by its allies were an expansionist power considering having a go at playing with borders and parcelling off other countries’ sovereign territories.

The stakes are enormous in the current climate and the possibilities for failure incalculable in their grave consequences for not just the integrity of Europe bit the global economy and international order.


#12

China, Iran and Russia are effectively desperate for the U.S. to retreat into isolationist navel-gazing so that they can construct a new multipolar world in which “great powers” can undermine international norms, like territorial divisions of borders in Europe decided in 1945 and 1989-1991, the formation of a Shia Crescent in the Middle East and freedom of navigation through the South China Sea.

If Americans have chosen this path, so be it. No one can force you to stay the world’s superpower. But do consider what transpired when Britain lost its footing as the global hegemon under competition from Germany in the late nineteenth to early twentieth century. You guys might hate the costs of keeping unipolarity but a multipolar playing field does not a stable, safe or prosperous world make.

The alternative might not be in your long-term interests as a nation, even if it is deceptively attractive in the short-term. Yet that is for you to decide, not us over here in Europe. We can only respond accordingly to whatever new arrangements you set forth.


#13

We are not the only free society in the world and there are plenty of free countries that are making plenty of money while we spend money defending them. The concept of a fee ride may well be over. Time to face the cost.


#14

Perhaps. :smiley:

I used to think I was indecisive, but now I’m not so sure.


#15

:thumbsup: Well said.

NATO is good for America, because it is good, perhaps even essential, for world peace and stability. America can prosper only in a relatively peaceful world environment. It’s that simple.

Yes, NATO may cost America some money. The absence, or weakening, of NATO would prove to be much more costly to America. I hope that Trump will understand that.


#16

My point is that many Americans are getting sick of footing the bill for that security and then having European countries look down their noses at us because they have 35 hour work weeks, nearly free universities, free healthcare, et cetera. Perhaps if they had been paying their fair share of that security for the last 70 years Americans might have been better able to take care of her people that were hurt by globalization.

I am not saying NATO is worthless, but I think that Europeans are deriving a greater benefit for lesser investment. Perhaps that was required in the early days, but once the threat on the eastern front was lessened and countries like Germany and France started to prosper they should have been a shifting of the burden from the US. Perhaps we should have countries provide global stabilization that is more geocentric rather than the US always having to be the strongarm that is backed up by 26 other countries.

It’s been 25 years since the Warsaw Pact was dissolved so why is it only now that Russia is reasserting itself that EU countries are going “hmm… been sitting on our rear ends for 25 years letting Uncle Sam protect us. I guess now that the Bear is reawakening we might have to spend our own money”? The major economic powers in Europe have had the capability to shoulder a greater burden for atleast 15 years but simply thought it was too inconvenient or something?

Again I’m not saying we should get out of the boat but I don’t think it is unfair of Uncle Sam to say “yo, Hanz and Piere… Stop sunbathing and put your hands on the oars. Seventy years of rowing and my back is tired so you need to help more.”


#17

“The EU and NATO are extraordinary forces for peace and stability,”

He is crazy if he thinks that, does he know why Britain voted to leave the EU? do you think surrounding Russia with NATO alliances, putting Missiles on their border, are going to foster peace and stability? You back Russia into a corner don’t act surprised if they come out swinging and I wouldn’t blame them.

youtube.com/watch?v=kqD8lIdIMRo

Closing in on Russia the way they are with NATO alliances near their border, is total folly, not to mention so very wrong, and especially hypocritical considering the USA during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

I hope this has helped

God Bless

Thank you for reading
Josh


#18

What if instead of ‘NATO’ we were talking about the ‘Warsaw Pact’? What if Canada or Mexico were considering joining the Warsaw Pact? Would you call the Warsaw Pact an extraordinary force for peace and stability? Especially if you in the USA wished to be independent, free from foreign rule/control?

NATO is only necessary if there is a common threat where it is necessary to defend oneself. There is no common threat that justifies it’s expansion. On the contrary, closing in on Russia with NATO alliances shows that it is not an alliance in self defense anymore, but rather turning into an aggressive alliance and tyrannical rule.

I hope this has helped

God Bless

Thank you for reading
Josh


#19

Trump will honor NATO commitment, Obama says

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#20

Obviously, many former captives of the Warsaw Pact think it’s worthwhile to belong to NATO. That’s why they asked to join.

I don’t think Trump is going to do anything to NATO other than push for other coutnries to bear their pledged costs.

As to the EU, I don’t see where the U.S. has any particular interest in preserving the EU or doing anything to undermine it, either one.


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