President Obama will ask Congress for another $1 billion to improve security in Europe against the threat from Putin. I have no problem with this.
What I do have a problem with is how little the Europeans do for themselves. NATO’s members promised in 2006 to spend at least 2% of their GDP on their militaries, but of 28 members, only Britain, Greece, and Estonia, besides of course the U. S., have met that low standard. Everyone talks about the great trains and inexpensive health care in Europe. Well, that’s because they spend next to nothing on defense, relying too much on us, while our infrastructure is falling apart. If they’re so worried about Putin, they need to stop building their houses of straw and sticks, while we get stuck providing the bricks.
I’m especially looking at you, France. While the French can’t be bothered to defend themselves (again), they also won’t cancel their $1.6 billion sale of warships to Putin. So they make our job tougher and more expensive. You know, Mesdames et Messieurs, it’s your damn continent. We just come over now and then (like 70 years ago today, when our soldiers got slaughtered on your Normandy beaches, while you all hung out in cafes in Paris) to save your sorry behinds.
Since under the NATO treaty, an attack on any of the Baltic States (Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia) is considered an attack on the United States, I went back to see how the Senate vote (May 8, 2003) went to admit those countries to NATO.
People, it was 96-0. As if they were naming a post office. No one seems to have thought about if we really want to go to war over the Baltic States.
What troubles me most is that Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia were part of the old Soviet Union, and not simply Warsaw Pact countries like Poland or Bulgaria. I see a distinction between adding former Warsaw Pact nations to NATO and adding former republics of the USSR. The latter strikes me as in-your-face overreach, NATO on the Russian border, designed to infuriate the Russians and perhaps come back to bite us on the tush.
Okay, we “won” the Cold War, but there’s winning smart and winning dumb. The Treaty of Versailles was winning dumb. Expanding NATO as far as we did may have been winning dumb too.