June 12, 2018
Ike’s Secretary of State John Foster Dulles spoke of conducting an “agonizing reappraisal” of U.S. commitments to defend NATO allies, if they did not contribute more money and troops.
Dulles died in 1959, and that reappraisal, threatened 60 years ago, never happened. Indeed, when the Cold War ended, out NATO allies cut defense spending again. Yet we are still subsidizing NATO in Europe and have taken on new allies since the Soviet Empire fell.
If Europe refuses to invest the money in defense Trump demands, or accept the tariffs America needs to reduce and erase its trade deficits, what does he do? Is he prepared to shut U.S. bases and pull U.S. troops out of the Baltic republics, Poland and Germany, and let the Europeans face Vladimir Putin and Russia themselves?
This is not an academic question. For the crunch that was inevitable when Trump was elected seems at hand.
He promised to negotiate with Putin and improve relations with Russia. He promised to force our NATO allies to undertake more of their own defense. He pledged to get out and stay out of Mideast wars, and begin to slash the trade deficits that we have run with the world.
And that’s what America voted for.
Now, after 500 days, he faces formidable opposition to these defining goals of his campaign, even within his own party.
Putin remains a pariah on Capitol Hill. Our allies are rejecting the tariffs Trump has imposed and threatening retaliation. Free trade Republicans reject tariffs that might raise the cost of the items U.S. companies makes abroad and then ships back to the United States.
The decisive battles between Trumpian nationalism and globalism remain ahead of us. Trump’s critical tests have yet to come.
And our exasperated president senses this.