NATO is needed and always will be as long as threats to the West exist in the form of Russia and state sponsors of terrorism such as Iran, whose utmost desire is the weakening if not destruction of Western civilization. But support for NATO, just like support for free trade, does not mean that the status quo must be protected and left unchallenged.
Not much in life escapes the need to be questioned, probed, and reformed. Now, if you don’t like the messenger or how he messages, fine, but don’t miss the real issue: Does NATO as it is functioning almost 70 years after its birth require a bit of scrutiny and reform?
The recent NATO summit in Brussels underscored how much the United States’ relationship with European powers is under considerable stress. It is so because the United States elected a businessman, not a traditional politician, much less a traditional diplomat. Each thinks differently, speaks differently, and seeks different outcomes. That above all is causing the turmoil, not simply the president’s blunt messaging.
Business People Want Results, Not Static
Business people like Trump see whatever and whoever is on the other side of the table primarily as means to an end. It is not that they dehumanize them or put no stock in having good relationships. Rather, they don’t see any arrangement as permanent because the bottom line is outcomes, not comity.
Politicians, on the other hand, tend to seek permanence in relationships if they can achieve it because they like stability. True, politics spawns reformers and revolutionaries, but they tend to seek stasis as soon as they get the position they want; ruptures are exceptions and not the rule. As for traditional diplomats, they are at the far end of the spectrum seeking permanence in relationships: comity and quiet are the coin of the realm.
So whether it is trade, foreign policy, Supreme Court appointments, or just plain old political campaigning for votes and legislation, Trump is bound to disrupt every day and in every way until he gets the deal he wants. He believes his approach to Kim Jong Un was successful and so far it is working. He believes his approach to renegotiating trade arrangements is working. The jury is still out on that one, but so far the markets and investors are not shying away from keeping the economy growing.
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