The Talking Dog

January 15, 2017, NATO Schmayto

And we're off. In an interview with the German publication Bild and London's Times, the president-elect suggested that the NATO alliance was "obsolete," that only five members (there are twenty-eight total members) are "paying their fair share," he praised the Brexit vote, called the EU a device for Germany's benefit to impose its will on the rest of Europe, and he threatened to impose import duties on BMW if it locates a plant in Mexico, as it proposes. He also suggested he wants a deal with Russia, to reduce nuclear weapons and to eliminate sanctions. He chided German chancellor Angela Merkel for her refugee policy (there's a surprise), noting he believed it a "catastrophic mistake."

And he's not even going to take office for five more days. Here's the thing: this is actually pretty consistent with what he campaigned on. And there is an interesting national debate that would not be inappropriate, as to the appropriateness of our contribution to NATO (which Mr. Trump unsurprisingly is overstating) and indeed, the appropriateness of our involvement in an alliance with other states that are in a far better position to defend themselves than they were in the aftermath of World War II. The bigger question is whether the United States's overall massive defense footprint and expenditures are actually required for our own security, or whether we should scale back in light of both world geopolitical conditions and our own financial situation. Seriously... why should all aspects of our present policies be taken on sheer faith? Same with the EU-- though that is the EU members' business-- as to whether they believe that trade accord is in their interest. That is, it is not Mr. Trump's business.

And import duties on a non-American company choosing to locate its operations in Mexico presents a host of troubling issues (including whether he has the authority to do it on this basis). But again, maybe "a businessman" (even a terrible one like Mr. Trump) might correctly ask why we don't have a national industrial policy? Maybe he's not answering correctly-- but it is somewhat refreshing to see someone asking this kind of question.

Obviously, if his "policy positions" are being driven by his personal financial ties to the Russian state and Russian oligarchs in particular, rather than by actual personal conviction that this is sound policy (a virtual certainty, as Mr. Trump believes in nothing besides his personal aggrandizement)... then we have some deadly serious issues (of a national security nature) in allowing him to proceed. But I am not saying that, in isolation of Mr. Trump's wholly inappropriate motives (some might call them-- correctly-- treasonous), that the policy direction he seems to be proposing is not worthy of debate, and possibly even implementation.

All this said, none of this means that this man who is entirely unfit to be president is not to be opposed, consistently, and vociferously, at every turn, unless and until he behaves in an appropriate manner. Which means, he will likely need to be opposed consistently and vociferously.