After years of relative dormancy, the significance of NATO is making a comeback.
Montenegro becomes a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on June 5. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and Macedonia are three other nations that are trying to gain membership. Officials in Finland and Sweden are debating on joining the twenty-eight-nation bloc.
It seems like every country wants to become an officially recognized NATO member, right? That’s what the media regularly say – look at how they lambasted President Donald Trump for calling it “obsolete.”
Well, not everyone is NATO crazy. There is a movement within Slovakia to withdraw from the group.
More than 150,000 people have signed a petition to establish a referendum on Slovakia’s withdrawal from NATO. Launched by the People’s Party – Our Slovakia, an anti-NATO and anti-European Union political party, the petition would need to garner 350,000 signatures to initiate the process.
It has only been thirteen years since Slovakia became a member of NATO. The government did not hold a referendum on the matter. Since then, the public’s attitude on NATO has turned negative. In 2016, a Globsec Agency poll found that 47% of Slovaks preferred neutrality to NATO membership, 59% view the U.S. and Europe negatively and 60% believe the U.S. uses NATO to control small countries.
There have been demonstrations across Slovakia over the past year protesting NATO.
This viewpoint isn’t just confined to Slovakia. The anti-NATO trend is unfolding in Turkey and Greece – if Scotland earns its independence then it would automatically withdraw from NATO.
Would such a move happen in the U.S.? It is unlikely, but it should – and soon!
During the 2016 election, the establishment and the media lost their marbles when Trump referred to NATO as “obsolete” and demanded other nations to pay their fair share. (He never once said he wanted to exit from NATO.) They argued that he didn’t understand the importance of NATO and that this was more evidence the president is working for the Russians. Trump has since renewed the nation’s support for NATO.
Since 1949, when U.S. President Harry Truman signed the North Atlantic Treaty, there has been domestic opposition to NATO. Senator Robert Taft (R-OH) never wanted to be in NATO:
I do not believe any policy which has behind it the threat of military force is justified as part of the basic foreign policy of the United States except to defend the liberty of our people.
Taft correctly noted that if any NATO member was attacked then the U.S. would have to go to war. He further said that the U.S. would be outraged if, for example, Russia armed a border nation like Mexico. Taft also referred to the incalculable cost of maintaining NATO membership.
Sixty years later, former Congressman and three-time presidential candidate Ron Paul (R-TX) echoed Taft’s sentiments. During the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, Paul regularly censured NATO and America’s aggressive foreign policy in debates and in television interviews. This irked CNN and Fox News a lot – they’re only response was to label Paul as an isolationist.
In 1997, Paul delivered a powerful speech in Congress, urging NATO to “be disbanded, not expanded”:
NATO expansion only benefits the US military industrial complex, which stands to profit from expanded arms sales to new NATO members. The modernization of former Soviet militaries in Ukraine and Georgia will mean tens of millions in sales to US and European military contractors. The US taxpayer will be left holding the bill, as the US government will subsidize most of the transactions. Providing US military guarantees to Ukraine and Georgia can only further strain our military. This NATO expansion may well involve the US military in conflicts as unrelated to our national interest as the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in Georgia. The idea that American troops might be forced to fight and die to prevent a small section of Georgia from seceding is absurd and disturbing.
Mr. Speaker, NATO should be disbanded, not expanded.
And you know what? He’s right.
Today, the U.S. pays 22.1%, or 3.5% of its gross domestic product (GDP), of NATO’s budget. At a time when the U.S. faces a $20 trillion national debt and has troops stationed in dozens of other nations, can the U.S. continue to afford NATO and its likely consequences?
Moreover, it looks like NATO’s primary objective is to annoy and provoke Russia. The likes of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania sit directly at Russia’s European border, and Poland, Romania and Bulgaria are in close proximity. There are only two countries on Russia’s European border that aren’t members of NATO: Belarus and Ukraine – the West has worked hard to get Ukraine to become a NATO subscriber.
To reiterate Taft’s comments, imagine if China or Russia started to arm Mexico and station their militaries in Tijuana or Taxco. It’s safe to say that U.S. officials wouldn’t be too pleased.
Unless you’re a Democrat or Senator John McCain (R-AZ) (perhaps that’s a redundancy), you understand that the Cold War is over. Former President Barack Obama was right in 2012 when he joked that “the 1980s are calling, they want their foreign policy back.” The U.S. shouldn’t be using smaller states to help slay the General Orlov and Ivan Drago monsters of Russia.
Paul, too, was accurate in July 2016 when he wrote:
NATO is not a friend of peace. We don’t need it. Just as the British decided to leave the EU, so should the U.S. leave NATO.
The media should not fear: President Trump is not withdrawing from NATO. But he should.
Like the EU, NATO can be described as a cult: once you join, you are never allowed to leave.