The most successful military alliance to have ever existed is under threat, not by a Warsaw Pact 2.0, but by the very people it has protected for more than half a century. The trend of romanticizing isolationism, amplified by Donald Trump’s rhetoric, has gained momentum.
In Trump’s words, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has become “obsolete” due to its ineffectiveness at fighting terrorism as well as other member states not paying enough money to the organization.
His hostile approach is based on both his short-sightedness and plain ignorance.
NATO covers 28 countries, several of which are former Soviet Bloc members. Significant portions of the populations in eastern NATO countries like Estonia and Albania live in relative poverty in comparison to their wealthier western European counterparts.
Demanding that the poorer member states “pay up” is detrimental to the alliance and empowers NATO’s historical nemesis: Russia. Said countries are the closest to the Russian border and are therefore crucial in NATO’s mission of containing Russia’s aggression in the former Soviet Bloc. They are at the frontline should Russia commit any further acts of aggression as seen in Crimea in 2014.
Trump’s consideration of abandoning NATO not only puts several countries at risk, but also undermines the efforts of countless U.S. presidents to guide eastern European nations into the path of self determination.
The claim that NATO has been ineffective at fighting terrorism is subjective at best and detrimental to the alliance and the security of the world at worst. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. invoked Article 5 of NATO, which states that an attack on one is an attack on all. The alliance went to war alongside us in Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban government harboring Osama Bin Laden.
Although it took more than 10 years to locate Bin Laden, the U.S. sent a powerful message to all who took part in terrorism: they will not be allowed to hold and control land without serious repercussions. It’s impossible for the U.S. and NATO to prevent every terrorist organization from acquiring land at some point such as ISIL in Iraq in 2014. However, said occupation has been under constant attack by several NATO allies and a U.S.-led coalition of Arab nations.
Terrorists aim to create fear and resentment in order to discourage intervention, and Trump is giving them exactly what they want.
Don’t be fooled by Trump’s rhetoric. We are winning. The moment we abandon our allies and concede to terrorists’ demands is the moment that we lose.
It’s important for us to have allies if we wish to create a more free and democratic world. The U.S. military is not a private military contractor, and fighting an asymmetrical war is not an easy, quick task. Trump’s ignorance and shortsightedness is a danger to everyone who is trying to build a more stable and peaceful world.