Sunday, June 4, 2017

Depressing Thoughts on the Future of NATO

I share the generalized dismay at seeing Donald Trump in Europe going out of his way to alienate our allies and break up our alliance.

That said, I can't say I am too thrilled with the Europeans, either.

Angela Merkel is supposed to be one of the good guys, but she probably has more to do with the breakup of Europe than anyone else, first by insisting on dealing with the economic crisis by mindless austerity and demanding that Southern Europe bear the entire burden of adjustment, and then by failing to recognize that the refugee crisis was leading to a political crisis as well.  And now she is trashing not only the U.S., but Britain, and all (presumably) to score political points against the perfectly respectable Social Democratic Party, whose commitment to liberal democracy and to Europe is no less than hers.

Likewise, in Britain, people are understandably upset that Theresa May, a mainstream Conservative whose commitment to liberal democracy and to NATO commitments is not in question, is being treated as equivalent to Trump simply because she is carrying out the popular referendum mandating a withdrawal from the EU.

Emmanuel Macron is supposedly another of the good guys.  He started off with a knuckle-buster handshake with Trump and then boasted, "One must show that we won't make little concessions, even symbolic ones."  That doesn't exactly sound like a promising start to his views on international cooperation.  It sounds more like a neocon calling for more war and always more war.  And sure enough, he is urging more war in Syria.  Fun times!

Certainly I am no nationalist.  But just as I am appalled to see Trump seeming to put loyalty to Russia ahead of US interests, I am appalled at the hint that that we on the liberal side should put our commitment to European leaders like Merkel and Macron ahead of commitment to the U.S.   The European Union is coming apart at the seams for a reason, having everything to do with poor leadership.  Many of the people pushing breakup do not have Europe's best interests in mind.  But I refuse to be told that I may not criticize the European Union lest it play in to the hands of Russia.  It there had been more responsible critics earlier on demanding more realistic reforms, Europe might have been spared the illiberal and often Moscow-aligned critics who are challenging it now.

I fully agree with Business Insider's Josh Barro:
Establishment political parties have been playing a dangerous game — contriving situations in which the only acceptable choice happens to be one favored by elites, and hoping that voters will choose it under duress. 
Voters have been revolting against no-choice politics by choosing the unthinkable: Brexit, fringe political parties, rejecting the Italian reform referendum, Trump.
You should be mad at voters for the alarming choices they are making. I certainly am. But you should also be mad at the establishment leaders and political parties who put voters in the position of choosing between the unpalatable and the absurd.
. . . . . . .
Voters have repeatedly insisted that they do, in fact, have a choice in these supposed no-choice matters. They have called the establishment's bluff. 
I think we are about to learn the establishment was not bluffing about how unacceptable some of these options were, especially Trump. Voters may be about to learn a painful lesson. 
But establishment politicians should learn a painful lesson, too: If you want to be sure to beat a terrible option, offer people something they actually like. Don't tell them they have no choice but to do what you want.
It is my firm and settled opinion that our ruling elite is stupid. I have also lost confidence in the common people, all the more so since they elected Donald Trump.  So where does that leave me?  I don't know.  But one place I refuse to go is to applaud Eurocrats like Merkel and Macron, who did so much to get us into this mess, when they trash the U.S. and Britain and resolve to go it on their own. If there are any good guys out there, then I, for one, am not seeing them.

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