August 2, 2016
PLEASE CONTACT THE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE DONALD TRUMP, MEMBERS OF CONGRESS AND THE MEDIA TO INFORM THEM OF THE IMPORTANCE OF NATO TO THE SECURITY OF AMERICA, EUROPE AND THE BALTIC COUNTRIES.
As you may know, in an interview with the New York Times the Republican Presidential Candidate said that he would not necessarily defend NATO allies if they were attacked by a foreign power. This admonition extended, Trump said, to the Baltic countries.
The consequences of his comments are hard to overstate. NATO was founded on the bedrock commitment that an attack on one NATO country is an attack on all and that members states are obliged to come to the aid of a fellow member under attack.
The lack of commitment to uphold NATO’s pledge of collective defense from a U.S. presidential candidate undermines the alliance as a whole.
The NATO alliance is the key deterrent against Russian aggression in Europe. For Donald Trump, United States support hinges on financial considerations, i.e., whether a NATO member’s military budget has reached two percent of its gross domestic product.
The Baltic countries threw off their Russian occupiers just 25 years ago. They started from scratch in forming armed forces, and yet Estonia has already reached the NATO goal of allocating two percent of its GDP to defense spending, while Latvia and Lithuania will reach the goal in a couple of years.
Candidate Trump complains that most members are free riders. However, since Putin’s sneak attack on Ukraine and illegal annexation of Crimea, NATO members have increased , or at least stopped reducing, their military budgets.
There is far more at stake than two percent. The very serious problem with Mr. Trump’s defense policy is that once the ironclad cornerstone of NATO’s existence, that an attack on one is an attack on all, is broken a precedent is set and any member can break the treaty by failing to come to the aid of a fellow NATO member.
When America was hit by the 9/11 attack on Washington and New York, and Article 5 procedures were implemented, NATO members joined the coalition. President Bush did not open the NATO ledger to check who is up to date in their obligations and eligible to join the fight.
The two percent is NOT a donation or a membership fee to NATO. It is how much a member country is expected to spend on its defense.
Winston Churchill noted once: “The one thing that is worse than fighting with allies is fighting without them.”
Candidate Trump claims that the United States spends “billions and billions of dollars on NATO. ” That is not correct. NATO’s budget is $2.3 billion to which the United States contributes $514 million, about 22.1 percent of the total budget.
The U.S. defense budget is $585 billion, meaning that this year’s NATO budget expenditures are 0.09 percent of America’s military budget. So, for every $100 our military spends, nine cents is spent on NATO. And for every $100 in government spending about a penny is spent on NATO.
The common ally defense should not be predicated on the two percent issue. The best NATO defense is the certainty that any adversary would face the unreflecting wrath of 28 nations.
NATO has a formidable level of resources at its disposal: 3 million well-trained troops, almost all volunteers, 2400 military aircraft, 890 ocean -going warships; close to a trillion dollars of combined defense spending. It has conducted combat operations extensively in the Balkans, Iraq. Libya, Afghanistan, and off the coast of East Africa against pirates. Many of the campaigns included troops from the Baltic countries. And most of all, it has 28 loyal members ready to stand up for each other. It is something that Putin can only dream about.
Responding to Candidate Trump’s remarks, NATO Secretary General Jens Solemner declared: “Solidarity among allies is a key value for NATO and that we defend one and another. We have seen this in Afghanistan, where tens of thousands of European and Canadian and partner nation troops have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with U.S. soldiers. Two world wars have shown that peace in Europe is also important for the security of the United States.”
Candidate Trump seems to either not know, or not care, that words are important in international diplomacy and for a country’s security. It is difficult to understate just how dangerous his NATO remarks were. They have signaled to Putin that the United States might not honor the Article 5 ironclad obligations, and thus initiate Russian aggression against the Baltic countries.
A similar situation happened twice in the last century. In 1950 when Secretary of State Dean Acheson, in a speech on America’s defense perimeter in the Pacific, excluded South Korea, six months later North Korea attacked South Korea. The second example occurred on April 25,1990; President Saddam Hussein held a meeting with the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq. It is disputed exactly what was said, but transcripts reveal that the Ambassador stated that the U.S. has no opinion on ” Your Arab-Arab conflicts and that “the Kuwait issue is not associated with America.” Eight days later, on August 2, 1990, Saddam invaded Kuwait.
NATO is still a viable and effective military organization with high morale, pride and spirit. It is ready to carry out its mission as shown by the recent Summit meeting in Warsaw and by the various exercises in Baltic area. NATO presence deters Russian aggression in eastern Europe.
At the Warsaw NATO Summit, NATO leaders made clear their readiness to meet their financial obligations, including their Article 5 obligation.
Russian President Putin has already attacked and invaded two neighbors and has routinely threatened the Baltic countries with occupation. But he is kept in check from realizing his dream by three million NATO soldiers.
As with any organization, NATO has room for improvement. Roles can be shifted, budgets
trimmed, deployments more precisely defined. But the NATO mission is sound, robust, noble and fair. It is far from bankrupt. It deserves our support.
Over the past couple of decades, Baltic and American relations have grown and matured. All three countries have boots on the ground with the U.S. in Afghanistan. The ports of Riga and Klaipeda are key hubs for the U.S. Northern Distribution Network that facilitates the transport of goods and material to coalition troops in Afghanistan – and serves as a retrograde route for material leaving the area. They have participated honorably in every military engagement that America has had including Iraq and Afghanistan. They did not have to join us in Iraq or Afghanistan, but we asked them and they joined willingly, as an ally should do.
A stable, secure and economically viable Europe is in America’s financial interest. NATO membership significantly improves a country’s credibility and the perception to investors as a safe place to invest. Investors are looking for stability, predictability and independent democratic governments with a commitment to the rule of law. These values lead to economic growth. Most NATO governments have these values.
For more than 70 years, the U.S. military presence in Europe has contributed to European stability, which has economically benefited both Europeans and Americans. The economies of the 27 member states along with the United States account for approximately half of the global economy. Mr. Trump’s comments on NATO and his intent to implement them will surely bring uncertainty and confusion to Europe. And that is not good for business and prosperity.
The objective of U.S. forces in Europe is to provide a forward-based military capability that gives U.S. decision makers timely and flexible military options to defend America and promote American interests in the broader European region.
NATO is a significant part of our collective defense. It maximizes the military capability of our allies. Peace and independence have been the exception in Europe, not the norm. NATO has given Europe and the world 70 years of peace.The mini-ethnic wars in the Balkans were contained and stopped by NATO.
With the British departure from the EU, NATO has even greater significance in preserving Europe’s solidarity.
Over and over, Putin has made clear his national security goals. He wants to restore Russia as a great power, gain a sphere of influence in the post-Soviet space, establish a new security architecture in Europe and Eurasia, and divide or destroy NATO. But Moscow cannot successfully pursue its revisionist agenda, so long as the United States and NATO stand together.
THE BOTTOM LINE IS THIS: IF TRUMP IMPLEMENTS HIS POLICY REGARDING NATO, THE BALTIC COUNTRIES AND EASTERN EUROPE COULD BE LEFT TO THE MERCY OF PUTIN. THE BALTIC NATIONS ARE DEMOCRATIC, WESTERN-ORIENTED AND DEFENDABLE.
If you DO NOT want this to happen, I suggest you contact Donald Trump NOW to let him know what you think of his policy. Also let Congress know, let the media know, let the American public know. This is an extraordinary situation, and demands YOUR participation. Do it now.
Candidate Donald Trump’s telephone number is (646) 736-1779, secondary (212) 832-2000.
Address: Trump Campaign Headquarters, Trump Tower, 725 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10022.
Address: Trump Campaign Headquarters, Trump Tower, 725 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10022.
You can find your congressperson and media contact information on the Internet.