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Trump Endorses American Geopolitical Suicide

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Apparently Donald Trump wants to destroy reorganize the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), sees the European Union (EU) as a competitor, and thinks that Germany is an enemy of the United States:

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump called NATO obsolete, predicted that other European Union members would follow the U.K. in leaving the bloc and threatened BMW with import duties over a planned plant in Mexico, according to an interview with Germany’s Bild newspaper that will raise concerns in Berlin over trans-Atlantic relations.

Quoted in German from a conversation held in English, Trump predicted Britain’s exit from the EU will be a success and portrayed the EU as an instrument of German domination with the purpose of beating the U.S. in international trade. For that reason, Trump said, he’s fairly indifferent whether the EU breaks up or stays together, according to Bild.

Trump’s reported comments leave little doubt that he will stick to campaign positions and may in some cases upend decades of U.S. foreign policy, putting him fundamentally at odds with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on issues from free trade and refugees to security and the EU’s role in the world. On Russia, he suggested he might use economic sanctions imposed for Vladimir Putin’s encroachment on Ukraine as leverage in nuclear-arms reduction talks, while NATO, he said, “has problems.”

“It’s obsolete, first because it was designed many, many years ago,” Trump was quoted as saying about the trans-Atlantic military alliance. “Secondly, countries aren’t paying what they should” and NATO “didn’t deal with terrorism.”

Garry Kasparov sums this up rather succinctly:

 

And, as we all know, there’s never a better time to disrupt long-standing alliances and institutions than while deliberately increasing tensions with your only potential peer competitor.

Just to keep track, Trump has now gone from saying that the US should expand its nuclear arsenal to suggesting that he would use a nuclear arms-control agreement as a pretext for lifting sanctions on Russia economic sanctions on Russia as a ‘lever’ for a nuclear arms-control agreement. Mattis and Tillerson both pledged support for NATO and condemned Russian efforts to attack the liberal order; a few days later our soon-to-be President went back to bashing the alliance and promising to make nice with Russia. Even if you believe that the inertia of alliances, the so-called ‘deep state’, and cooler heads will prevail, this is all extremely dangerous stuff. The incoming Trump administration is sending radically inconsistent signals on the American commitment to defend allies. This creates significant risks of miscalculation and escalation.

And what if the United States does nothing in the face of such a probe?

 

 

Beyond these concerns, what Trump proposes is, per the title, geopolitical suicide: trade conflicts with one of our most important allies, attempting to facilitate the dissolution of the European Union—which Russia views as a competitor for influence and a threatening force for political liberalization—and assaulting a critical American alliance already facing difficult challenges. Make no mistake: you should be very worried right now.

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  • Steve LaBonne

    This man is an agent of a hostile foreign power, which makes him a traitor. The Republicans who enable him are also traitots. It’s past time to start calling treason by its true name.

    • I 100% endorse this stance. Comey and the media idiots that also helped contribute to the election results are also traitors.

      • CP

        Liberal derangement syndrome taken all the way.

        I expect nothing more from the media: they’re court jesters and have been for decades. For supposed national security professionals in Comey’s position, however, it’s unforgivable.

        • Depends on the media idiots, I guess. Cillizza and Halperin and their ilk are walking embodiments of Dunning-Kruger, so I suppose one can argue they’re too stupid to be capable of seeing what Trump really was. The New York Times, by contrast, has no such excuse.

          • ΧΤΠΔ

            On the “stupid vs. evil” axis: Cillizza can probably be considered “amoral” – but only in the sense that a particularly dense chihuahua can be considered “amoral” for shitting on your new clothes – essentially too stupid to grasp any but the broadest moral precepts. Mark Halperin, Fucking Idiot is also rather dense, but you can tell he’s at least somewhat immoral by choice; the only consolation might be his being discredited as a hack by this election. Fuck the Fucking New York Times is an odd mix of stupid and evil: Extraordinarily smarmy, but it at least possesses the capacity for shame – the “reflexes of moral character” to crib from Orwell (and a quote from any of his various writings on leftist intelligentsia will probably work better as a direct comparison).

            POLITICO, of course, is the type of conscious, gleefully nihilistic POS that’d be considered over-the-top on House of Cards, and as such deserves to be shot into the sun.

    • Marek

      Harrumph.

  • ΧΤΠΔ

    A Balloon Juice commenter pointed to this story by Jason Easley, which said that the fallout over the Kremlin connection would at best turn the Human Supremacist into Ford 2.0 – a walking ghost who’s “loyal” but utterly expendable. If worse comes to worst, any Trump taint would be used to boot him out of the office – which (as other BJ commenters well-noted) would give ZEGS the presidency with minimal effort. What’s the likeliness the Repugs realize this and actually go through with it?

    And while we’re at it: What are your overs/unders on both the Putin honeymoon & Donald’s tenure in office?
    Mine is 11 months for both.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      what’s the over/under on when people will stop saying (admitting?) they voted for him?

      • Warren Terra

        This would normally happen – people’s claims (or even beliefs?) about their past votes track popularity – but I think we are not sufficiently recognizing the degree to which today’s Republican voters live in an alternative factual universe. We think they’ll backlash against Republican disaster, but it’s just as likely that they’ll double down because they will be told, and believe, that the disaster isn’t happening, or that it’s the fault of whoever most conveniently can be fitted up for a Two Minute Hate. Or both, of course, Red Queen style.

        I was doing my weekly grocery shop this weekend, and as usual I saw the front cover of The National Enquirer at the checkout. Every week now that rag has at least two political stories on the cover: they’re always ludicrously false, and either highly incendiary or Trump puffery (or both). And that’s the unsubtle track …

        • howard

          as an old-timer, i can tell you that it was extremely hard to find a nixon november ’72 voter in august ’74, but those were different times.

          my own belief is that any time the gop congress wants to impeach trump, they can find a basis for it; as long as he remains a useful idiot, why bother, but if he starts to look like he’s going to taint the party, stable predictable idiot mike pence starts looking more and more attractive.

        • Brad Nailer

          I think the other anecdotal measure is how many people on Facebook consider Obama “the worst president ever.” No reasons, necessarily, other than “liberals suck,” but that’s their POV.

          He said “you can keep your plan,” he stood up for black people in Ferguson, Mo., and he said Trayvon Martin could be his own kid, and I guess that’s all it took. The fact that a lot of us spent eight years waiting in vain for him to cut some people’s balls off doesn’t register with these people.

        • witlesschum

          Trump’s been buddies with the publisher for years (decades?) because of course he is.

      • cpinva

        “what’s the over/under on when people will stop saying (admitting?) they voted for him?”

        they started doing that on Nov. 9th. of course, most of them also didn’t vote for Bush II in 2004 either. funny how that works.

        • Lost Left Coaster

          It’s amazing how hard it is to find an Iraq war supporter these days.

          I tell ya, in 2003-2004 when I was helping to run a weekly peace table at the farmers’ market in a very blue city in a very blue state, they were in my face every week. Where are they now?

          • I believe they are individuals like Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney, Condi Rice, Hillary Clinton, Ram Emanuel, and other political entities which are either retired or would rather have the Iraq blunder forgotten.

          • Ahuitzotl

            Really? In Florida, I keep running into people who insist we were winning til Obama chickened out, AND we should go back in and finish the Iraq War properly.

    • vic rattlehead

      Ugh I’ll take Pence over Ryan if it comes to that. Hopefully the Russia scandal if it got to that point would take down Ryan. I don’t know how but President Ryan is a bigger nightmare to me than President Pence. I could live with President Hatch. In terms of succession he’s preferable to Pence or Ryan.

      • ΧΤΠΔ

        I think the only real advantage ZEGS has over Pence is that Pain Caucus chickenfucking means the so-called liberal media will be a built-in propaganda arm.

      • ZEGS doesn’t obviously hate queer people as much as the Human Supremacist does, so at least he’s got that going for him. Both of them seem pretty nightmarish, though. I’d still take either of them over Tangerine Torquemada. And yes, Hatch is far better than any of them.

        • ΧΤΠΔ

          Thing is, Ryan was mostly worthless at corralling fellow Representatives; how far do you think media tinglies can take him before bumping into his lack of actual charisma/brains?

          • Abbey Bartlet

            how far do you think media tinglies can take him before bumping into his lack of actual charisma/brains?

            Allow me to introduce you to the 43rd president.

            • ΧΤΠΔ

              The backlash over privatizing Social Security, IIRC, the beginning of the end for the press honeymoon, so this would probably indicate that the Repugs would be fucked by 2018 and/or 2020.

            • vic rattlehead

              Actually I think Bush the lesser had charisma. Even Trump has charisma-but it’s a dark charisma-the same way a really good villain is compelling. Ryan is…not. He’s a pipsqueak.

              • cpinva

                “Actually I think Bush the lesser had charisma. Even Trump has charisma-but it’s a dark charisma-the same way a really good villain is compelling.”

                that’s a pretty low bar for charisma you have there, it’s nearly touching the floor.

                • vic rattlehead

                  Let’s not be glib-this is relative to other presidential candidates from their party. Bush did have something that Jeb and his father clearly lacked. I thought he was a douchey frat bro but lots of people ate up his schtick. Compare him to his father, McCain, Romney-there was something there that people went for. The aw shucks crap was stupid but it got him within stealing distance in 2000.

                  There is something oddly compelling about Trump. I find him odious but he has this compelling darkness about him that other evil fuckers like Cruz, McConnell, Ryan et al lack. Those three embody the banality of evil. Trump has this dark charisma that a lot of people who should know better are entranced by.

                  Neither can touch WJC or BHO of course but that’s a different party and largely different set of voters.

                • N__B

                  There is something oddly compelling about Trump.

                  Per the discussion elsewhere someone* should analyze** Trump’s anal glands to see how the scent causes attraction.

                  *Just not me.

                  **Heh.

                • witlesschum

                  Trump behaves like a cartoon in public and he’s been a larger-than-life media figure for decades. The others are just normal-ass politicians. George W. was a normal politician but he had his charms. The whole folksy Texas fella thing was kind of a role he was playing, but he was good at it.

                • Mellano

                  There was a Vox story last year about how Trump’s facial expressions are relatively simple and outsized, in the manner of an operatic actor. That sounded right — he’s trying to stir up big, powerful, emotional responses in people, and he’s pretty good at it.

              • ChrisCampbell

                “It’s astonishing. Frankly astonishing. The man actually has charisn’tma.”
                “Your meaning?”
                “I mean he’s so dreadful he fascinates people.”
                Terry Pratchett – Feet of Clay

                • Rob in CT

                  Goddamn.

    • Nick never Nick

      Trump isn’t expendable — he has the backing of the most violent, most unhinged, Republican voters. The reason he won is that mainstream candidates can no longer hold these assholes into the coalition — and they make up a plurality of the coalition. For the Republicans to impeach Trump would be electoral suicide, with a real risk of it being actual suicide, even if Trump went quietly into his long goodbye . . .

      And we all know how quietly he would go . . .

      Besides, Trump knows this aspect of the deal — he’s going to make sure these guys are implicated too.

      • Murc

        The reason he won is that mainstream candidates can no longer hold these assholes into the coalition

        I don’t believe this. I think nearly all those assholes would have pulled the lever for Cruz or Kasich or anyone else. Just like they pulled the lever for Romney.

        • brewmn

          Disagree totally. I think the margin of Trump’s victory came from those truly hard-core haters that don’t normally trouble themselves to vote. Cruz or Kasich just wouldn’t have tickled their lizard brains quite the same way.

          • Abbey Bartlet

            Yes. I think any of the others end up in Romney territory.

        • witlesschum

          I think Trump brought out some new assholes. He won a bigger margin across the rural areas of Michigan, for instance, and at least some rural areas I know about saw a surge in new voter registrations. I tend to add those things together and extrapolate, though obviously I could be wrong.

      • Manny Kant

        Trump dying is the only real way out for the Republican Party without major, major damage.

        • alexceres

          No. They start a war in 3 years and rally the ignorant around the flag just like W did.

          Or worse, Kristalnacht. It’s all the Muslim, immigrant, gay, librals fault. Just like everything in 1938 was the Jews fault. Hell, trump already campaigned on most of it.

          Odds of 8 years of trump are a lot higher than you imagine

          • I’m honestly not even convinced we’ll have elections in 2020. If we do, they almost certainly will be even less fair than last year’s were.

            • Unless large parts of the country and the world are reduced to smouldering rubble, I believe there almost certainly will be elections in 2020. After all, Russia has elections. Most authoritarian regimes have elections. Elections are a perfect occasion for the citizenry to affirm their support for the regime.

              Whether the elections will be “free and fair” is another matter entirely.

          • timb

            Bull. Trump is an incompetent with a <40% approval PRE-Inaugaration. He won't be able to maintain relations w/Congress, any more than he can w/anyone who doesn't do what he says.

            He's Carter w/o the decency

          • If they want to rally people round the presidency with a war, chances they will have to do it with someone other than Trump unless they are 1) in the mood to play Russian Roulette and 2) Believe that more than a minority of the people are going to be reassured that Trump is a war leader.

            I mean, I don’t want to wax nostalgic about Bush the Younger or anything, but he could at least come up with a fair simulation of “wartime father of the nation” gravitas- or close enough that the gaps could be filled by the propaganda machine.

            And the thing about starting a war to bolster power is that you start one that won’t actually destroy you. Can they seriously count on Trump to exercise such restraint?

    • Manny Kant

      “the Human Supremacist”? ZEGS? What is going on here? I have never heard either of these terms before. You can’t just make up novel nicknames for people and expect everyone to know what the fuck you’re talking about.

      • ΧΤΠΔ

        ZEGS is an abbreviation of Charlie Pierce’s famed epithet “zombie-eyed granny starver.” Halloween Jack called Pence a “human supremacist” on one of the pre-election posts – a nod to a somewhat popular meme about him being a real-life X-Men villain (one which was noticed by X-Men writer Fabian Nicieza, no less).

        • Evidently not famed enough. I like Pierce but this is silly insular obfuscatory insider language.

          • Warren Terra

            If someone likes the term enough to use it, that’s fine, but they should also respect their audience enough to define it.

            • While I agree in most cases, following the link makes it clear who is meant by the term “Human Supremacist”. Ryan being next in line for the presidency also makes it possible to figure out ZEGS from context, although I can understand how people might not make that leap.

          • ΧΤΠΔ

            OK, “famed” might be pushing it, although just “granny starver” has been used a lot on this blog. The Pence reference was probably too obscure.

            • benjoya

              i read pierce regularly, so i knew ZEGS but not “human supremecist.” i agree with warren about the protocol surrounding such things.

          • witlesschum

            I love the Pence is about to order the arrest of the Xmen thing, it’s just so damned true on so many levels. He looks exactly like an actor who’d play that role and he’d presumably hate mutant as much as he hates gays.

            • ΧΤΠΔ

              “Closeted fundamentalist dad” and “gay porn star” are also common digs at Pence.

      • Completely agree.

      • Just_Dropping_By

        I’m glad someone else had the guts to ask this!

    • WTF is ZEGS?

      • wjts

        “Zombie-Eyed Granny Starver”, Charles Pierce’s “clever” epithet for Paul Ryan.

        • Tom in BK

          I don’t think it’s widely known enough to be in “Catfood Commission” territory, but it’s not wrong, and it is pretty accurate.

          • ΧΤΠΔ

            Ironically enough,“Catfood Commission” is a term I wasn’t aware of until just now (though I’m known of its counterpart “pain caucus” since its conception).

          • Hogan

            But no one abbreviates Catfood Commission to CC. Maybe we should avoid ZEGS in favor of the spelled-out version.

            • Tom in BK

              That’s entirely fair.

  • randy khan

    I realize I am not remotely the only person to point out that this is exactly backwards from what the U.S. ought to do – Russia is useless as an ally, and we have really important trading relationships with all of the EU and China, not to mention that blowing off China likely will cause problems in our relationships with a lot of other Asian countries. But, still, the depth of ignorance inherent in these positions is stunning.

    • Davis X. Machina

      Russia will let Trump pretend he’s the other emperor in a Zweikaiserbund, where he and Vlad get to disassemble the whole post-1848 liberal experiment.

      Can China do that for him?

      • Manny Kant

        the thing is, Putin is Napoleon here and Trump is Alexander I. It’s actually a remarkably similar dynamic in terms of personalities, though the geopolitical situation is wildly dissimilar (Napoleon was master of Europe in 1807 and had defeated Alexander twice; Putin couldn’t possibly hope to defeat the United States.

        • so-in-so

          With Trump in charge? Depends on how many smart people he fires.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      creating instability is the goal, I think. They think they’re the smartest guys in the room and they’ll always come out on top

      “go to town, burn it down, turn around
      and get your stroll on, baby
      I’ll get the car you get the match
      and gasoline”

      • randy khan

        Not that I think you disagree, but that’s really stupid, and would be even in a world without nuclear weapons. Stability is good for the U.S.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          no, I don’t disagree. But I feel pretty confident *they* would. Maybe not- maybe it’s all a big bluff, I don’t *know*- but I don’t feel real comfortable about how that bluff gets called

        • CP

          Well. Domestic stability is good for them too. And yet again and again, you see them voting against it. Their weird whims and prejudices and resentments matter more.

      • medrawt

        We’ll be looking sharp I swear
        I want them all to stop and stare
        When we take them down.

      • alexceres

        “Chaos is a ladder”

        These guys are so incredibly stupid they can’t even assess the depths of their stupidity accurately.

        • rachelmap

          Their money has always shielded from the consequences of their bad decisions, so they never had to smarten up.

    • On the other hand, if we look at the map, and disposition to use military muscle, Russia definitely looks like a very useful partner. The Europeans aren’t going anywhere, it’s not like they will join the Church of Scientology, they are fairly wet noodles, so they’ll go along with whatever Trump does with Russia.

      Regarding Brexit, by encouraging it he puts the uk into the USA economic sphere with a heavy chain. So that too makes sense.

      What else did he say, that Merkel’s inmigration policy is nutty? It is. And she is going to change it because otherwise Europe is going to get flooded with unwanted Inmigrants, and that’s going to put Marine Le pen types in charge all over Europe.

      Trump is a wheeler dealer, he’s using typical business negotiation tactics, what I call shake and bake. The call to raise nuclear capability is similar to Reagan’s Star Wars, it put the USSR in a pickle. So Putin gets nervous and says he wants to deal to cut weapons. Which is just great. I used to live in Russia, and I think I know the way their elite thinks, They simply want space and to keep French, German and USA forces as far as possible from Moscow. Obama’s move into the Ukraine was answered forcefully. That’s exactly what I expected. But Obama doesn’t seem to have had much of a foreign policy vision.

      • Rob in CT

        Uh huh.

      • DAS

        Trump is using techniques typical of business folks? And American corporate leaders do such a good job at growing and maintaining their businesses?

        • Trump’s technique may actually get resulta. I like his approach to reduce tensions with Russia, it sure beats Obama’s war drum beating and the USA media playing along with such irresponsible behavior. It sure looks like the USA hasn’t had an adult in charge of foreign policy for 16 years.

          • Hogan

            war drum beating

            Oh FFS.

            • Obama has been moving usa troops ever closer to the Russian border. This is seen as a threat. In a sense it would be as if Russia made a treaty with Mexico and started placing it’s tanks and soldiers just south of Arizona.

      • econoclast

        They will not, in fact, go along with whatever Trump does with Russia. Sweden already raised their military readiness level. Sweden!

        • wjts

          You’re making the mistake of thinking that European nations are things with political goals and agency rather than action figures you can push around the sandbox and make them do whatever you want.

    • Hogan

      we have really important trading relationships with all of the EU and China

      You don’t understand! Trade is what’s hurting us! It must end now!

  • Davis X. Machina

    No, no, Trump is going to save the people of Europe from the thralls of ECB and the EU, and the threat of ISIS.

    Specifically he will deliver the newer Eastern members of NATO from German hyper-capitalist captivity, following the model of Putin rescuing Ukraine….

    (Wait a week. Either Jacobin or The Nation will be running with this…)

  • Linnaeus

    What is NATO’s reason to exist now?

    I don’t say this just to be contrarian or because I agree with Trump (I don’t), but because I can see why the nonspecialist observer might not be convinced as to its purpose now that the enemy against which NATO was formed has not existed for about 25 years or so. I think the alliance has kind of muddled along in part because it’s been assumed to be self-evident that it’s necessary for maintaining the liberal order (another term that I think needs some unpacking) and that inertia has carried it along for a while.

    • I don’t see any credible evidence that Russia is less dangerous now than it was in the late ’80s. Indeed, it is quite possibly significantly more so. In light of that, NATO has every reason to continue existing.

      • djw

        I don’t see any credible evidence that Russia is less dangerous now than it was in the late ’80s.

        Right. It doesn’t have the ideological clarity that it did 30 years ago, but that hardly seems necessary for a security alliance to make sense.

        • AMK

          It doesn’t have the ideological clarity that it did 30 years ago, but that hardly seems necessary for a security alliance to make sense.

          Actually, that kind of ideological clarity is important. As we’ve been seeing, the fact that Putin’s Russia is an authoritarian petro-capitalist oligarchy with powerful christian nationalist overtones instead of an authoritarian communist state makes all the difference for lots of people on the right.

          The GOP is chock-full of people who hate liberal democracy because democracy constrains the freedom of the super-rich, or because it limits the power of the church, or because it limits official discrimination, or combinations thereof. The Russian model is far more attractive to them than, say, Germany (socialism!) and so it follows that friendly relations with Moscow at the EU’s expense make perfect sense.

          • alexceres

            It’s reason is stability of the current world geopolitical order. With so many nukes, stability is highly rated. Also, stability is good for trade relations and maintaining our current standard of living.

            A great deal of capitalism has been selling of infrastructure necessary for resilience. That is by its nature an inefficiency in good times, and someone can choke and die on the bad times. A major non-nuclear war between powers of any significance would destroy wall st, your retirement, global food supplies, and generally vaporize trillions upon trillions of wealth based on today’s leveraging a low risk environment

            • Philip

              A major non-nuclear war between powers of any significance would destroy wall st, your retirement, global food supplies, and generally vaporize trillions upon trillions of wealth based on today’s leveraging a low risk environment

              And it probably goes without saying, but it isn’t really clear whether such thing as a “major non nuclear war between powers of significance”[1] is even possible.

              [1]: Most of whom either are nuclear or, in a few cases, aren’t but likely could become so very quickly if threatened

              • Dilan Esper

                Mutual Assured Destruction, not NATO or any egotistical bullshit about “American leadership”, is what prevents nuclear war.

                NATO significantly increases the risk of nuclear war in its current form (it wouldn’t had it done the right thing and not expanded in the 1990’s).

      • Linnaeus

        I agree that it’s important not to dismiss Russia, but I would also say that it doesn’t have the influence or the capabilities that the old USSR had. What’s more, Putin’s Russia wasn’t Putin’s Russia in 1992.

        Which doesn’t mean that there’s no reason for NATO, it’s just that I don’t think its post-Cold War mission has ever really been made clear.

        • djw

          Isn’t there also a case for permanence in security alliances, all else equal? It seems plausible that there might be tangible security threats at T1, T3, and T5, but not so much at T2 and T4. In such a world, a preference for security alliances that don’t disintigrate the moment the coast appears to be clear seems quite rational.

          • Linnaeus

            I can see that. It’s just that for an alliance so explicitly formed against a long-since defeated enemy, it’s all the more important not to take the need for its permanence for granted.

          • Dilan Esper

            The problem with permanence in security alliances is NATO EXPANDED. And the reason for that expansion was precisely to deprive Russia of its rightful status as a great power.

            And the other thing is NATO changed from defense to offense, starting in the Balkans.

            I wouldn’t have loved a permanent NATO that didn’t expand and stayed on defense, but it would have been reasonable. But there’s nothing “permanent” about what NATO actually did– it seized power in a very imperialistic fashion.

            • Hogan

              rightful status

              hmm

              it seized power in a very imperialistic fashion

              Forcing former Warsaw Pact states to join?

            • Murc

              And the reason for that expansion was precisely to deprive Russia of its rightful status as a great power.

              Nobody has a “rightful status” as a great power, and we’ve “deprived” Russia of jack shit.

              And the other thing is NATO changed from defense to offense, starting in the Balkans.

              This is so wrong I’m comfortable calling it a lie. How, pray, has NATO gone on the “offense?” I don’t recall tanks rolling into Hungary at any point. Well, not OUR tanks.

              Since when do nation states rushing, frantically, to joint a defensive alliance count as that alliance going “on offense?”

              But there’s nothing “permanent” about what NATO actually did– it seized power in a very imperialistic fashion.

              By… forcing nations that really wanted to join it to join it?

              I mean, for fuck’s sake. Countries STAMPEDED to get into NATO. NATO made them jump through a lot of hoops to do so! If Estonia and Latvia hadn’t joined Russia would almost certainly have annexed them by now.

              This is… the opposite of imperialism.

              • so-in-so

                Not that I agree with Dilan, but I think he is referring to the NATO intervention in Kosovo.

                • Murc

                  If that was aggressive imperialism, then sign me the fuck up for some more of that.

                • so-in-so

                  It’s the only thing I can think of “in the Balkans”, and I guess qualifies as “offense” since Serbia hadn’t invaded any NATO countries.

                  I can see a point that maybe Europe should take more of a leadership position in the alliance, including increasing their spending. As others note, a pan-European military alliance keeps the intramural fighting to a minimum, and gives Putin reason to pause.

              • The US also was—until Crimea and the Ukraine intervention—very restrained when it came to positioning its military in eastern NATO states, and especially on former Soviet territory.

                Which is not to say that the US is clean here. The Kosovo intervention, and later recognition, certainly upset Russia—although not enough to interfere with later periods of good relations. The US misled Russia on Libya—Moscow has a legitimate beef here.

                Nuance is fine. There’s a lot of blame to go around. But let’s not let that form a basis for thinking that if Trump is serious, this is very bad news for the United States and democratic allies.

                • *not thinking that….

      • Murc

        I don’t see any credible evidence that Russia is less dangerous now than it was in the late ’80s.

        Russia’s economic, industrial, and technology bases have become considerably more hollowed out than they were during the Cold War.

        Basically, without their nukes? They wouldn’t be any more dangerous than any other regional hegemon. They could exercise a fair bit of power in their immediate hinterlands but they couldn’t roll through the Fulda Gap all the way to the Bay of Biscay anymore; they completely lack the capability to do that.

        The fly in the ointment, of course, is the nukes. Russia retains the ability to end human life on earth (or so we think; we don’t actually know, but we’re unsure enough we have to treat it as a given) at the same time it has lost much of its conventional muscle. That’s… a weird situation.

        • They may not have as much conventional power as they once had, but they clearly have far better espionage abilities than they did in the past. Well… I mean, it’s possible they ratfucked one of our past elections without us finding out, but that seems extremely unlikely. I don’t see the Soviets being capable of pulling off something like what the Russians have done to our electoral system in the past couple of years.

          Not to mention that the perestroika/glasnost-era Soviet Union wasn’t that much of a hostile world power, all things told. I mean, yes, if you want to compare to the Brezhnev era or something then a credible case could be made that Russia was more dangerous then. But I still think it’d be arguable. Putin is very, very dangerous.

          • CP

            They couldn’t have pulled it off because the extreme ideological hostility to them in the West made that impossible – an ideology enforced by politicians of both the mainstream right and left, and despite the many fantasies of right wing novelists and pundits, the left never actually peeled off and became a fifth column.

            They’re doing better now not because their spooks have improved, but because the environment they operate in is far more welcoming.

            • Rob in CT

              The Right as 5th column, proving that once again it’s always projection with those assholes.

              • CP

                Right. It was far-fetched in the fifties, but Richard Condon in “The Manchurian Candidate” was basically correct that the only way for the Soviets (or any other hostile foreign power) to make any headway into the political system in post-Red-Scare America would have been to subvert and channel right wing hysteria.

          • witlesschum

            The Soviets ratfucking an election wouldn’t have been in their interest. They weren’t interested in unpredictability in Washington, as they had a enough trouble understanding the west as it was.

            Putin is interested in stirring the pot for its own sake, partly because the situation is far less serious than it was at any point in the Cold War.

          • SIS1

            There is no evidence whatsoever that their “espionage abilities” have gotten better overall.

            As for the notion that the Russians now are a bigger threat, the reality is that ideologically Russia today is not particularly distinct from many of the right wing movements throughout the world. Russia is not “revolutionary” like the USSR was – Russia is back to being an agent of Counter-revolution, and if it seems to have more success now, its is purely because it can ally itself with counter-revolutionary forces within Europe and the US, not because its capabilities have expanded.

      • SIS1

        So, you actually think the Russians could make it through the Fulda Gap and race down to Paris today? Cause that is something the combined might of the Warsaw Pact could have done in 1988, but is utterly beyond the realm of the possible today.

        The Russia nuclear arsenal is also significantly smaller today than in 1988.

        So by all materially verifiable means of judging the military capabilities of a country, Russia today is nowhere near the physical threat is was prior to the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and Soviet Union.

    • Sly

      I can see why the nonspecialist observer might not be convinced as to its purpose now that the enemy against which NATO was formed has not existed for about 25 years or so.

      The people of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia would probably like a word or two with these nonspecialist observers.

      • Linnaeus

        After the country that annexed them dissolved? Again, the reason isn’t necessarily obvious, even if it is justifiable.

        • brewmn

          It seems obvious to every one but you. Maybe you should outline some of the downsides to the alliance, or just shut up with the jaq’ing off here.

          • Linnaeus

            I’m not jaq-ing off, nor am I arguing against the alliance. It’s just that “Trump is ignorant of the alliance”, while true, isn’t enough. Its reasons for being really do need to be spelled out in the context of today’s security concerns, particularly for American voters wondering why we still need it. If we don’t do that, that’s an advantage for Trump.

            • I think “Russia just hacked our election” is an explanation that should be sufficient for everyone who isn’t a RWNJ.

              • Philip

                Um? Unless you’re proposing a full-scale military retaliation it’s not even clear to me how this is relevant, and I say that as someone firmly in the pro-NATO camp, albeit a bit skeptical about the sheer size of the alliance.

                • brewmn

                  This was a response to repeated questioning as to whether NATO has any relevance today. I don’t know where you’re getting the military side of it. it’s largely about commitment to democratic republican governance.

                • Just_Dropping_By

                  I thought it was about ethics in gaming journalism?

              • NoMoreAltCenter

                Team America World Police

                • brewmn

                  Shut up, troll.

            • Rob in CT

              Your point is a good one. American voters are not generally well-informed, so the case has to be actually made, rather than relying on “you’re seriously undermining NATO? You FOOL!” I mean, it is foolish, but yeah those of us who don’t want everything burnt down have to lay out why. The trouble is that we have to do so in soundbite/bumper-sticker format because otherwise “TL/DR.” Our answer has to be short & punchy.

              So maybe “NATO prevents major wars” is the best approach.

              • Dilan Esper

                Except it doesn’t. It increases the risk of them.

                Without NATO, no Russian border operation will ever create a major war. We’d just ignore it.

                With NATO, Georgia and the Ukraine turned into international crises, and any skirmish with a NATO member threatens a nuclear war.

                • JohnT

                  Even allowing your argument that NATO has no value for the US (which I don’t at all) dismantling it via Twitter is suicidal, because in the interim period it creates massive uncertainty as to who will react how to what. That’s the pre-WW1 set-up.

        • Cheerfull

          The successor to the country that annexed them once and since dissolved is now sitting where it always has been and has demonstrated in recent years a willingness to use its army to obtain its goals, one of which appears to be to reconstruct the country that dissolved.

        • lunaticllama

          The same people (or type of people) that ran the USSR are running Russia today and clearly want to regain territory that the USSR had control over that Russia now doesn’t. Russia has invaded foreign countries and set up what appears to be a permanent occupation of nominally foreign territory to achieve this goal.

        • djw

          After the country that annexed them dissolved?

          You can’t be serious.

          Russian dominance/control/meddling in those countries existed for centuries prior to Soviet Era. After a pause to regroup following a regime change, they’re back at it. It would obviously be an oversimplification to endorse the claim that the USSR was little more than a rebranded Russian empire, but from the perspective of the Baltics, it’s eminently reasonable.

          • Linnaeus

            You can’t be serious.

            I’m being half-serious here.

            I’m putting myself in the position of someone – especially an American voter – who doesn’t know all that and doesn’t see why having the Baltic nations in NATO benefits the US, even if they understand why it benefits the Baltics.

            Let me reiterate some common ground. I think Trump is being dangerously irresponsible. Russia is not our friend and Putin is a dangerous authoritarian. The institutions we’ve relied upon to keep order, as it were, are not as safe as we thought they were. How many people saw Brexit coming? Aside from a few folks, who here really thought that Trump was going to win the presidency? All of that brings the danger to these institutions into sharp relief. I brought up NATO in particular because American military primacy is the lynchpin of the alliance and so American voters are in a position to determine its future and they may be less inclined to support it if they see Trump’s recklessness as common sense. That’s a problem.

            Now, I could be overstating the issue or missing something key here. If so, I’m happy to be corrected on that score.

      • Dilan Esper

        Why should America risk a nuclear war to protect Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia?

        You know, there are things in this world that are none of our fucking business. What goes on at Russia’s border seems to me to be a classic example of one of them.

        • Redwood Rhiadra

          Right, and it’s none of our business what goes on at Germany’s border when they start conquering Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Denmark, Norway, France…

          Oh, wait…

    • Wapiti

      Same as it ever was: to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.

      Without NATO Germany needs its own nukes, since it can’t depend on others for security. It’s seriously in our interest that that not happen.

      • Linnaeus

        That rationale was much clearer in 1949. It’s not necessarily as clear now, so an effort to do so needs to be made to counter Trump’s irresponsibility.

        • lunaticllama

          One rationale is that the U.S. has a strong interest in keeping major economic and manufacturing powers in the U.S.’s trade and economic system through security alliances.

      • CP

        I was reading an article in the National Review about this weeks ago. The comments were full of idiots sniggering “what do we need NATO for anymore?” With some conservanerds responding how useful it was to have European bases to project power into Middle Eastern theaters of combat, armed with a ton of examples from recent history, hypothetical future wars, and deep knowledge of the logistics involved in sustaining these wars. Not a single one thought to point out the incredible value of having one of the world’s leading economic centers attached at the hip with you, and relying on you for defense instead of its members pursuing their own far more aggressive foreign policies or cutting deals with Russia to leave you isolated.

        This is what happens when you think the men with guns are the only part of the state that matters. Tom Clancy novels and Call of Duty games have raised a generation of conservative IR cretins who can tell you in excruciating detail the best weapon for every situation that might arise, but are utterly incapable of telling you when and when not to use the weapons, much less what other tools are at your disposal.

      • Just_Dropping_By

        Without NATO Germany needs its own nukes, since it can’t depend on others for security.

        [CITATION NEEDED] The UK and France would have every reason to agree to cover Germany with their nuclear arsenals even in the absence of NATO as it exists today.

        • Bloix

          The US has 34,000 troops stationed at permanent bases in Germany. The whole point of their presence is that they signal to Russia that the US will use nukes if necessary to prevent them from being killed or captured. In effect they turn Germany into a territory that the US must defend. The UK and France have no such commitment to Germany. (The UK has about 5,000 troops stationed in Germany; the French, none.)

          • CP

            That, and even if it seems to make sense right now to assume that the U.K. and France will back Germany against Russia, there’s no telling what future political trends will do as UKIP and the FN continue to wreak havoc.

    • Chetsky

      I’m utterly unqualified to answer, but I believe a start might be found here

      Excerpt:

      Ever since then, by my count, it is every thirty-seven years that a hostile army crosses the Rhine going one way or the other bringing fire and sword. The original Swiss–the Helvetii. Julius Caesar. All of those who claimed to be Julius Caesar’s adoptive descendants. The Visigoths heading for Andalusia. Louis XIV commanding his armies to make sure that nothing grows in the Rhinish Palatinate so that his armies attacking Holland have a secure right flank. And, last, Remagen bridge in 1945. Every thirty-seven years, with increasing destructiveness as time passes.

      Thirty-seven years after 1945 carries us to 1982. Thirty-seven years after 1982 will carry us to 2019. By 2019 we will have missed two of our appointments with slaughter. We desperately need political union in Europe lest the bad old days from 111 BC to 1945 come again as we once again fall victim to the tragedy of great power politics

    • Captain Oblivious

      The case for NATO and the EU is three millennia of almost endless wars in Europe, the last two of which were especially horrific and dragged the US into them.

    • Nick never Nick

      The reason for this is as fucking obvious as the nose on your face. European countries have, since WWII, largely given up invading each other. Germany is not going to invade Slovakia; France is not going to invade Italy; Sweden is not going to invade Finland.

      Russia has not given up invading other countries. It interferes, actively, violently and clandestinely, in multiple countries around it. It also has a giant arsenal of nuclear weapons.

      NATO is a defense organization against Russia. It is self-evidently necessary for maintaining the liberal order of Europe against the violently illiberal order of Russia. Is that really mysterious?

      • Linnaeus

        When I ask that question, though, I don’t have people like you, me, or other LGM-ers in mind so much as I do most voters, particularly in the US, who might not pay as much attention to these issues as we do here.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          I think you sell NATO with what Chetsky says upthread: pre-NATO Europe was always at war and we got dragged into the last two flareups. Since the formation of NATO, however, things have stayed relatively calm

          maybe that doesnt work- as we talked around in comments to the first Melissa Byrnes post here, in general people no longer seem to understand (or even have interest in) *why* we have the institutions we do or what might happen without them

          • Linnaeus

            It may not work, but it’s better than nothing. I think it’s important not to underestimate Trump’s appeal on an issue like this. Which I may be overstating, but I didn’t think he was going to be president, either.

          • sigaba

            Pepe the Frog: “So if there’s a war in Europe, we don’t have to go fight, there’s no FDR to drag us into it this time.”

            Sane NATO Advocate: “But if Russia won, the entire European continent would be clients…”

            Pepe the Frog: “That’s good! They’re our friends now!”

            Sane Nato advocate: “…let alone the fact that everyone in Europe would despise us and the political imperative of the continent would be to get revenge upon the United States.”

            Pepe: “Russia’s better than faggy old Europe.”

            Sane NATO Advocate: “It’s much more likely though that Russia would lose, or fight to a stalemate…”

            Pepe: “Never!”

            NATO: “…and because we hadn’t intervened we’d have no influence whatsoever over the debellation. Germany would probably end up reorganizing Europe and would do so with the idea that the US were tacit allies of Russia. If we continued to trade with Russia during a conflict they might consider us flatly enemies, and they would almost certainly impose economic sanctions.”

            Pepe: “Well screw them!”

            NATO: “Of course if we retained a trade relationship with Russia during a European war, Germany would almost certainly consider our merchant ships targets.”

            Pepe: “Well if they attack them we’ll go to war with Germany! None of this is going to happen anyways, Trump will just peel the NATO states off one by one.”

            NATO: “But Germany won’t let that happen without a fight, and even if they did, that wouldn’t actually breakdown the underlying collective interests of western European countries, the soft alliance. NATO exists to prevent wars, the charter is a deterrent. Just because it goes away doesn’t mean the states won’t form a coalition in the event of war, and the whole reason wars don’t start is because NATO has military supremacy. If Germany in particular perceives its position deteriorating that only makes war more likely.”

            I’m really trying not to make this look like World War I all over again…

            • sigaba

              On the plus side, it took Wilhelm II about 20 years to finally and royally trash the post-Napoleonic international order, and I’m one of those people that give Trump eight years, tops.

              On the minus side just based on the history of that conflict, I think it’d be wrongheaded to put any faith in the deep state, a lot of those people agree with Trump, or they believe some sort of reckoning is inevitable. And most of the question of war and peace simply hangs on what Trump and people directly responsible to him say. Doesn’t matter what we promise behind closed doors, doesn’t matter who we spend money on or send weapons systems to, if the message isn’t there, it all falls apart.

              • CP

                The whole notion of a “deep state” is wildly exaggerated, methinks. A big chunk of the military and security agencies’ political power comes simply from their de facto alliance with the political right. If the political right cuts the legs out from under them, they don’t have much left to do.

      • SIS1

        It’s ‘funny’, but stating that NATO is explicitly an Anti-Russian alliance is what the Russians say, and why they work so explicitly to undermine it and destroy it (because any state would be stupid to be happy with an alliance against it being around).

        If NATO is purely an anti-Russian thing, then the question of why it should continue is right on the table, when you realize that NATO won’t move to include Georgia or Ukraine, and that in the end, we can’t actually physically defend the Baltic States if the Russians chose to invade them.

    • Tom in BK

      70 years without war on the continent is a pretty good track record, all things considered.

      I’m being glib, but in all honesty, that’s it. That’s NATO, the EU, all of it. Ensuring prosperity and stability for Western and Central Europe (and less so, Eastern Europe) is good enough for me.

      • Just_Dropping_By

        And when did Yugoslavia stop being part of the European continent?

        • Davis X. Machina

          Civil war?

        • Tom in BK

          I mean, I know that saying I was being glib doesn’t shield me from criticism, but I thought it was pretty clear that I was talking about WWI and WWII, no?

          ETA: Never mind. Re-reading it, I obviously wasn’t being clear. (The fundamental point of stability in Europe, though, I stand by.)

    • Matt_L

      For what its worth, NATO became the default setting for military cooperation among the members of the EU. Instead of following through on projects for an independent nuclear deterrent (EUROATOM) and a European Army in the 1950s and 1960s, it made sense to stick with the Atlantic Alliance in the 1990s. With the Americans around nobody had to worry about the Germans having the biggest say in defense matters, like they do now at the ECB and in the European Commission. NATO also means that the Germans don’t have to build a nuclear deterrent.

      NATO is a collective security agreement keeping the Europeans all on the same side. They are committed to diplomacy and multilateral forums to resolve their intra-European squabbles. NATO is just one of those forums that have worked for decades. It does not have to have Russia as an outside boogeyman, but it doesn’t hurt either. That might keep the Poles onside for liberal democracy in the EU, but who knows.

      • Phil Perspective

        That might keep the Poles onside for liberal democracy in the EU, but who knows.

        And Poland just elected a far-right government. And the EU is doing a bang-up job all around.

        • econoclast

          Compared to all of European history since Pax Romana? You bet it is.

          • Hogan

            To Phil, history began when he started watching TV.

  • As we get closer to Trump Day, I find myself thinking more and more about that part in Watchmen where the Comedian cracks under the murderous cynicism of Veidt’s plan. I thought I could laugh at anything, but, holy shit, we are off the map.

    Also, why is there no Canadian flag on that poster? Dare we disrespect our vital allies to the north?

    • Spoiler alert!

      But yes, that’s an excellent analogy.

    • ΧΤΠΔ

      “Cynicism” is perhaps too strong; at least Veidt’s plan was in the surface of preventing WWIII (although the ending is ambiguous as to whether or not it was ultimately successful). And he predicted the rise of dubstep, natch.

      Anyway, the point is that Donald isn’t fit to wipe even Lex or Norman Osborn’s asses, much less Ozymandias’.

      • he predicted the rise of dubstep

        If we’re thinking about the same bit from the comic (Veidt’s interview), he was talking about dub. But I inadvertently gave away my copy of Watchmen years ago, so I might be missing some nuance.

        • ΧΤΠΔ

          He definitely said “dubstep,” and also mentioned listening to Hell (or at least Room 101)’s musical conductor-in-chief Krzysztof Penderecki.*

          *To be clear, absolutely not a knock on his skill.

    • N__B

      Also, why is there no Canadian flag on that poster?

      The US is the tail of the windmill rather than a vane like every other country pictured…perhaps Canada is the water pump.

      • Nick never Nick

        WE’RE THE ROBOTIC SPACE WATER PUMP

        THAT’S THE CANADIAN ROBOTIC SPACE WATER PUMP

        LET NO ONE FORGET, PLEASE

        • Lost Left Coaster

          Oh my god that gave me a good laugh.

          And yes, for those of you who don’t know, the Canadarm is on the $5 bill. Goddamn Canada knows how to build a mean space arm.

      • wjts

        Canada was removed in order to make room for non-NATO countries like Ireland, Sweden, and Austria, possibly as part of an Operation Fortitude-style attempt to deceive the Soviets as to the actual size and scope of the alliance.

        • FMguru

          Canada built the robot arm that’s currently working the water pump.

    • Warren Terra

      Also, why is there no Canadian flag on that poster?

      I think the selection of flags is something about Europe, not NATO. It’s an odd selection of flags: it’s not the EU (it has Switzerland, which is in neither the EU nor the EEA), nor Schengen (the UK isn’t in Schengen), and indeed it has Turkey (in NATO, but otherwise escluded from Europe). It’s not even the Eurovision participants. So it’s probably some artist’s selection of European flags that doesn’t correspond to any existing political entity.

      • Abbey Bartlet

        The caption says it’s something to do with the Marshall Plan.

        • Warren Terra

          I’d had no idea the Marshall Plan included Switzerland. I’m actually a bit annoyed that it did.

        • wjts

          OK, but now I’m puzzled as to why what appears to be the flag of Mesen is in there.

          • Nick never Nick

            I was wondering about that too, thought maybe they meant to include Quebec but got it wrong.

            Not intending to imply I were aware of that was the flag of Mesen — if you knew that beforehand, wjts, then this is your moment.

            • wjts

              Finally, my hundreds of hours of studying the municipal flags of northwest Europe has paid off!

              (I googled “blue flag with fleur de lis”.)

              • tsam

                It’s Asgaard.

          • Linnaeus

            According to Wikipedia, that’s the flag of Trieste with UN colors.

            • N__B

              Trieste

              What about Isolde? Is she hanging out with Chad?

              • rea

                No–Chad hangs out with France.

          • Warren Terra

            But, the symbol is not quite right for a Fleur De Lis. This could be the artist’s failing, of course. I can’t figure what what the flag is.

            • wjts

              Like Linneaus said, it’s the Trieste flag in blue rather than red. The city was under UN control after the war as ownership was disputed between Italy and Yugoslavia.

              • Warren Terra

                Indeed.

                I figured out it wasn’t a fleur de lis, but all my searches and perusal of pages were based on the word or idea of “blue”.

        • keta

          Yep.

          One of a number of posters created to promote the Marshall Plan in Europe. Note the pivotal position of the American flag.

    • jmauro

      Also, why is there no Canadian flag on that poster? Dare we disrespect our vital allies to the north?

      So there are three reasons why the Canadian Flag isn’t there:
      1) The poster isn’t a NATO poster but one for Marshall Plan in 1947. Which didn’t apply to Canada, since it wasn’t a country bombed out by World War 2 in Europe.

      2) Canada wasn’t actually a country until 1949, until then it was part of the United Kingdom. (And even then it wasn’t a real country until 1982, due to a technicality.)

      3) The ubiquitous Maple Leaf Flag wasn’t created until 1964. And while there was a Canadian flag, the Union Jack was often used in it’s place.

      • Tristan

        2) Canada wasn’t actually a country until 1949, until then it was part of the United Kingdom. (And even then it wasn’t a real country until 1982, due to a technicality.)

        Oh, it’s way more confusing than that.

    • Dr. Acula

      For some reason, just a few days ago it occurred to me that the guy who played the Comedian is also Negan on The Walking Dead.

      Watchmen was interesting; some of it was good, some of it I had a lot of problems with, such as, well, the Comedian murdering the pregnant Vietnamese woman.

      • witlesschum

        That’s who the Comedian was. Moore created him to be amoral enough that him being shocked by it sells the enormity at the center of the mystery.

  • LFC

    Roughly twenty-five years ago, when the USSR dissolved and its Eastern European sphere of influence formalized by the Warsaw Pact had ceased to exist, NATO arguably should have declared its mission accomplished, disbanded, and a new sort of alliance should have been put in its place. The Clinton administration, of course, thought otherwise, and instead of disbanding, NATO expanded. Those of us who thought the main purpose of NATO was to furnish collective security against potential Soviet aggression were told that the alliance’s more basic purpose, esp in future, was to underpin ‘the liberal order’, help spread democratic norms, etc. But if someone had said in c.1992 that NATO was obsolete it would have been a very reasonable, if arguable, statement.

    Ironically perhaps, in 2017, with Putin doing what he does, NATO’s original purpose appears once again rather relevant; calling NATO obsolete now is not sensible at all.

    I tend to think that the Mattis line will prevail and that the foreign policy of the admin will not be governed by Trump’s tweets and interviews and statements. What he says will be one thing, what the admin actually does another. Whether that guess is right remains to be seen.

    • Warren Terra

      An alternative take on the same history was that Clinton (and, indeed, a lot of foreign policy community conensus) saw inclusion in NATO less as a bulwark against Russian expansionism (Russia’s ambitions seemed to be in “permanent” decline) but as a way of providing reassurance to economically liberalizing countries and preventing them from armed conflict with each other, the better to provide a peaceful integration into a European (and hence global) economic community.

      I’m not saying they were right – but there exists a narrative that takes the same facts and explains them without imagining it’s all a Western plot to encroach upon Russia.

      • Rob in CT

        I think that is a perfectly reasonable justification for the first bit of NATO expansion. Going right up to Russia’s borders under the Bush the Lesser administration was, IMO, dumb. We’re stuck with that now (or not!).

        • witlesschum

          Yeah, the Russians have not yet and may never accept the idea that they don’t have the right to meddle in the states that were once the Russian Empire and/or the Soviet Union. A combination of legitimate fears about all the invasions the country has suffered and the desire to dominate nearby countries.

          It’s a difficult question for me to answer as too how much the U.S. should get involved in not allowing large countries to dominate smaller just because they can. Ideologically and ideally, I’d like to make sure that Taiwan gets to be part of China or not only as its citizens dictate and the same for Estonia and Ukraine. But practically, is it sensible or fair to sacrifice what we’d have to sacrifice up and past the point of war to make that happen?

          Ideally, the U.N. would function as a worldwide NATO, in which any country seeking to launch a war to dominate its neighbor would back down in fear of the rest of the world ganging up. But practically, when the aggressing country in question is the U.S., China or Russia, or one of the smaller nuclear powers, that’s a hell of a scary idea.

          • Dilan Esper

            And this is why, in the end, great power politics will always matter.

            There’s too many people who think if America just projects its power far enough, we can have a world where nobody does anything bad and justice is always served.

            It doesn’t work that way. First, obviously, America does plenty of bad things itself and refuses any mechanisms for accountability for them. And we ally with states like Saudi Arabia that are awful. But also, there’s no mechanism that can actually stop Russia from meddling on its borders. The truth is NATO is a lie– we are not actually going to start a nuclear war if Russia invades Latvia. We just aren’t. We’re not actually that stupid.

            Great powers are going to do the things they do. It’s not going to be pretty, and there’s not going to be full justice in the world.

            • LFC

              The truth is NATO is a lie– we are not actually going to start a nuclear war if Russia invades Latvia.

              You’re missing something here: it has to do with the phenomenon that the late Thomas Schelling called “the threat that leaves something to chance.” Russia can’t know for certain what will happen if it invades Latvia except that there would very likely be some sort of NATO response under Art.5. And Russia can’t know for certain what the upshot will be. This uncertainty contributes to deterrence, esp. with a calculating leader like Putin, who is canny but not irrational. So NATO does have deterrent value here.

              That’s a separate question from whether NATO should have expanded eastward as far as it did. But that’s done now and one has to deal with the situation that exists.

              Also, it’s not at all clear, at least to a casual observer, that Putin is even that interested in the Baltics. But again, it only creates instability now to have Trump calling NATO obsolete. There are prob. ways to get some of what Trump wants (e.g. a fairer dist. of cost burdens) quietly, but him making public statements of this sort does not help anything.

      • Dilan Esper

        An alternative take on the same history was that Clinton (and, indeed, a lot of foreign policy community conensus) saw inclusion in NATO less as a bulwark against Russian expansionism (Russia’s ambitions seemed to be in “permanent” decline) but as a way of providing reassurance to economically liberalizing countries and preventing them from armed conflict with each other, the better to provide a peaceful integration into a European (and hence global) economic community.

        I think the reality was more banal. NATO makes the military industrial complex a lot of money, and makes American imperialists who love to bomb foreigners very happy. So, we took advantage of Yeltsin (an idiot) and expanded it. By doing so, we greased the skids for Putin. Great job, America.

    • timb

      He IS Zaphod Beeblebrox

      • No. Zaphod was at least fairly intelligent at one point. There is absolutely no evidence that this has ever been the case for Cheez Whiz Ceaușescu.

        • timb

          You should read the books 1-3 again, because Adams makes it clear that the smart move was not trying to find the guy who ran the Universe. The pompous jackass who was doing so is left behind on the planet by our heroes, because of the pompous thing.

          The moral of the books might be that Zaphod was better AFTER he screwed with his brain

    • Rob in CT

      +1.

      In the end, I think it comes down to people all over the West deciding our institutions suck so let’s burn ’em down. Whether it’s NATO, the EU, or bits of the US federal government (hey, let’s put someone who hates public education in charge of education policy!, etc, etc).

      I guess we’re going to have to relearn the answers to what have the Romans Ever Done For Us the hard way. I hope it just involves economic dislocation, rather than rivers of blood.

    • Simple Mind

      main purpose of NATO was to furnish collective security against potential Soviet aggression

      Ask any European and they will tell you NATO is meant to bind traditional hostiles Germany and France together in an alliance overseen by the United States. Releasing Germany is a dangerous step. Poland, the joke’s on you.

      • LFC

        “Releasing Germany is a dangerous step. Poland, the joke’s on you.”

        This particular point I find unpersuasive. It assumes, very dubiously, that Germany is interested in invading Poland and the only thing stopping it is the existence of NATO. There is no evidence I’m aware of that Germany wants to re-do WW2, except perhaps for some elements in right-wing parties who are anyway more focused on immigration than starting a European war.

        ETA: There may be some still-festering territorial issues there but no one afaict is going to re-do WW2 over them.

        • CP

          As with Japan in Asia, I think the problem with Germany is less the idea that they personally want to rebuild the empire and more the fact that much of the rest of the region is still scared of the idea of them being off the American leash. Fairly or unfairly, they’ve got memories, and those memories will inform their decisions. As we cut either of them loose and force them to seriously rearm for their own defense, that freaked-out factor will increase. And if the littler countries can’t depend on the U.S. either, many of them either go on their own rearmament programs or, more likely, cut deals with Russia or China. In either case, leaving the region more unstable and the U.S. with much extremely reduced access compared to what it used to have.

          (This is less of a factor in Europe with Germany than in Asia with Japan, but it’s a factor nonetheless. More so in eastern than western Europe, but with the Euro crisis of the last few years, potentially southern Europe as well).

        • Simple Mind

          I don’t mean the immediate future. As we’ve seen, any country is just one election away from a world of trouble.

    • CP

      I tend to think that the Mattis line will prevail and that the foreign policy of the admin will not be governed by Trump’s tweets and interviews and statements. What he says will be one thing, what the admin actually does another. Whether that guess is right remains to be seen.

      I certainly hope so (it’s one of the reasons I’m rooting for Mattis at DOD). It depends how committed Trump is to his lunatic foreign policy vision. (And there, questions of what his ties to Russia really are become important).

  • Troll

    Troll comment

  • Nick never Nick

    I don’t know if this is actually true or not, since it’s impossible to imagine what kind of nutcase Trump is, or how much he perceives his position to be constrained — but I suspect that on a basic level, Trump imagines that he is going to have some kind of alliance of the White Powers of the world (USA and Russia) against Muslims and the Chinese.

    See the moronic comment above mine, for example. There’s some high-octane racism in the Trump coalition.

    • Steve LaBonne

      The garbage in that interview is clearly being fed to the demented orange traitor by Bannon and Farage, who indeed have precisely that insane racist worldview.

      • Nick never Nick

        I suspect we’ve been taken over by ‘grand sweep of history’ types, the sort of moron who likes to hang out on Red State pontificating about hordes and Spengler.

        • Davis X. Machina

          Roderick Spode died before his time…

          • Warren Terra

            It would be pretty funny to shout “Eulalie! Eulalie!” at Trump.

            Though, it only worked against Spode because for all his would-be monstrosity he was a Woodhousian character, fairly harmless and (importantly) capable of shame, or at least public embarrassment.

          • rachelmap

            ‘What the Voice of the People is saying is: “Look at that frightful ass Spode swanking about in footer bags! Did you ever in your puff see such a perfect perisher?”’

    • CP

      Yes, I think that’s right. Russia is the godfather of every far right movement in the West and credible as such because it’s white, and because it’s the premiere white nationalist power in the world. Certainly Trump’s base sees it that way.

      It occurred to me recently that you can basically take white racial domestic attitudes and overlay them onto foreign policy. The Chinese and Muslims are equivalent to blacks and Mexicans – sinister racial others who are coming to take our jobs, rape our women, and reduce us to slavery. Europeans are equivalent to coastal blue staters – decadent cosmopolitan weak willed race traitors. The average conservative voter fears the former and despises the latter, and if you offer him a chance to throw them all under the bus for a Strong Leader of the proper racial persuasion who will put them back in their proper place, they’ll jump on it.

    • David Allan Poe

      Pretty much. My own personal worst fear is that whether through intention, incompetence, ignorance, or some combination of all three we end up in a shooting war with China and Putin makes whatever territorial acquisitions he desires in Europe. I don’t know what happens after that.

      • CP

        I’ve said this several times since the election: whether or not Putin interfered in the election, you have to admit that things couldn’t be going better if he’d planned them himself. There are only two powers in the world that can match his country. One was just taken over by his biggest groupie, and it’s heading full steam into a conflict with the other one. Leaving him with more of a free hand than Russia has had since… Christ, I don’t even know.

      • Philip

        I don’t think it matters much what happens after that. A shooting war between the two superpowers or the second tier military powers (France, Britain, Russia, etc) ends with a planet that glows in the dark and nobody around to appreciate the pretty light.

      • bender

        Japan rearms.

        • Phil Perspective

          You do know that Obama has been encouraging Japan to rearm, right? MIC, baby!!!

    • MDrew

      I’ve had this thought as well. Though it leaves the question why such hostility to continental Europe. I guess because they allow Muslims in their midst (for now, until he cajoles and threatens them into changing that).

      • CP

        Same as blue staters. They’re faggy intellectual socialist cosmopolitan fancy pants.

  • McAllen

    “Anyone who opposed Trump’s plan is clearly a tool of Western Imperialism!” -Jacobin

    • MAJeff

      needs more “neo-Liberal”

  • medrawt

    I don’t know that this is specifically going on here, but I can’t shake one of the things I found most frightening about Trump during the campaign:

    His stated comments to the effect that he thinks being unpredictable and holding your cards close to your vest is the clever thing to do … in international relations. Which seems like a great way to dance with starting a war by accident, if you ask me.

  • Murc

    I still hold out some hope that the U.K Supreme Court rules that Brexit violates international treaties the U.K is bound to (the Good Friday Accords) and that it cannot abrogate the one without the other. The May government seizes on this fig leaf to quietly shelve Brexit plans.

    Of course, that’s in the GOOD timeline. We live in the darkest timeline, where the May government shrugs and says “I guess we’re abrogating the Good Friday Accords, then” and the Troubles re-start in earnest. This will all happen around the same time France elects their own fascist and also pulls out of the EU.

    • ArlingtonVaGuy2

      Why are you know towing to Eurostars? Britain have good reason to want out of EU.

      • GeoX

        “Know towing.” Now that’s funny.

      • Lost Left Coaster

        Yes but good reason too Britain not leave.

    • Captain Oblivious

      My impression of May is that she’s as stupid as Trump but not quite as insane.

    • Dr. Acula

      We live in the darkest timeline, where the May government shrugs and says “I guess we’re abrogating the Good Friday Accords, then” and the Troubles re-start in earnest.

      Ugh. I remember what it was like in Belfast in the 1970s and 1980s, and I really don’t want that to come back.

      • Murc

        It is hard to see how some sort of tense situation is avoided if they actually pull the trigger on Brexit.

        Among other things, the U.K would either have to re-establish checkpoints along the Republic of Ireland/Northern Ireland border, which will almost certainly lead to violence, OR accept an enormous amount of smuggling, which has its own problems and will lead to its own violence.

        Ironically, this problem will be largely eliminated if the EU does implode, as even the most hardcore Irish Republican would grudgingly have to admit that the U.K does not have the power to guarantee the Northern Irish access to institutions that no longer exist.

        • Dr. Acula

          Yeah. I have some dumb fuck relatives in Northern Ireland who voted yes on “Brexit”, and are now regretting their votes. I’m pretty sure Northern Ireland overall voted against it by a pretty large margin.

          My eligibility for an Irish passport is looking much better now.

        • sibusisodan

          The ability of the “Conservative and Unionist Party” to throw N. Ireland under the bus for tactical Brexit gain is both tragic and scary.

          Plus, it makes John Major look like a colossal statesman by comparison, which is both tragic, scary and weird.

    • JohnT

      I have every reason to wish you were right but living in the UK I see no sign at all that you are. Everything points to May triggering Article 50 when see said she would, or as close to it as possible. Her party requires this of her, and it has become received wisdom that we ‘must’ exit the EU. The only effective mechanism (in my view) to have knocked the thing on the head is to have incorporated a second referendum to accept the actual deal signed into the exit plan. That was very defensible on the grounds that no-one actually knows what Brexit looks like in practice, and would give us a 2019 referendum when a bunch of old nasties would have died, evening the odds. However that crazy idiot m&^%*&^%$*^r Jeremy Corbyn rejects a second referendum because he wants out too, and the Liberal Democrats and the SNP can’t do it on their own. So we’re fucked

  • Troll
    • ΧΤΠΔ

      Are you being sarcastic? ‘Cause there’s a code-bar for that.

      • Warren Terra

        Given this and the comment above, it looks like Arlington VA Guy 2 has been marinating in Breitbart or similar.

      • Davis X. Machina

        Troll — he’s been ban-hammered earlier in this thread.

    • Nick never Nick

      Is the mass rape-wave the reason that Trump is right to favour the dissolution of the EU? I guess that would follow logically.

  • AMK

    It will be morbidly fascinating to see how far the rest of the GOP allows Trump to take his Russia fetish before people other than McCain and Lindsay Graham actually do something. I would guess very far, because as I noted upthread, the modern GOP is a coalition of people and interests who have no real use for liberal democracy and naturally gravitate toward the Putin model that pairs oligarchy with state-sanctioned ethno-religious nationalism.

    Of course, the farther Trump takes it the harder it will be for the mainstream media to ignore, and the more political capital he will have to spend defending himself from (parts of) his own party and getting into public fights with the military and the IC. And the more pressure there will be for investigative committees etc..

    • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

      Then Trump will tweet something and the press will go running after the new shiny object, and no one will pay any attention to Trump’s foreign policy.

  • NoMoreAltCenter

    If Kasparov was an American, he would be a hard right Republican. Can’t stand that guy. Just because he hates Putin doesn’t make him worthy of citation.

    • rea

      He’s certainly a bit of a nut job, but sound on Putin.

    • Just_Dropping_By

      Yes, we must never find points of common agreement with people!

  • veleda_k

    Cool, cool. I always wanted to die in some horrible yet totally avoidable global conflict.

    • NoMoreAltCenter

      I just always assumed China would annex the USA when I was too old to care.

    • David Allan Poe

      Hey, at least it’s likely to be quick.

  • Nick never Nick

    I just want to say that my pessimism, sorrow, disgust, and disappointment of the night of the election have been replaced by fear and real dread. This is the first time in my life that I’ve felt either — both are tied up somewhat with my father, over this same time period, receiving a diagnosis of somewhat aggressive prostate cancer, and having an operation for it, over the last three months. There is a weird symmetry, waiting now to find out how effective that was, and waiting for Trump to assume the office of the President. I have a powerful sense of things breaking up underneath the surface, and I’ve been thinking about how the relative peace of the world that we live in depends on the mutual restraint of many actors. The Republicans have finally decided to dispense with that restraint, and I think they are stupid enough to not understand what this means. It’s a very helpless feeling, trying to parse whether Trump is in control with an insane plan, or presiding over an unstable court of lunatic assholes with many insane plans all vying for his attention, or just (please) a garden-variety Republican grifter here to gut the social net and humiliate people he doesn’t like. The combination of President Trump and my parents hitting the speed bumps of age have now made it possible for me to imagine giving up my US citizenship in the future. Just think about what this past month has been like, and imagine four years of that, with Trump actually wielding power instead of just tweeting shit. I’m deeply, deeply thankful that 8 years ago my wife and I decided to take a flier on Canada instead of just going back to the USA, but even here, I don’t feel that I can look at the world and say what parts of it will do better than others, this is just going to be awful.

    • Sorry about your father; I hope he recovers.

      This is definitely an extremely alarming time in which to live. I suspect my parents must have felt like this during the Cuban Missile Crisis (they both lived in Florida at the time. And still do, for that matter).

      • Nick never Nick

        I think the Cuban Missile Crisis is actually much less dangerous than today — it was an example of events overtaking plans, but the people in charge were serious and motivated by the normal motivations of rulers: survival, defence, and stability. Trump is going to cause crisis after crisis, and his management of them is going to be no different from swinging his dick to see what it knocks over. He won’t be able to accept a face-saving draw, so every crisis is going to build as Trump doubles down again and again.

        Think about WWII — that was created and pushed forward by Hitler. Replace him with another leader, and WWII turns into the Sudetenland Annexation, a continuing source of instability in Germany today, and sour relations with Slovakia. Trump is fundamentally rotten, not with anti-Semitism, but narcissism and an American emptiness. What he creates will reflect this.

        • David Allan Poe

          Also, his election changes the internal political dynamic of every single country in the world. Every leader of every nation who has advocated or relied in any way on the overall stability of the United States is suddenly weakened against right-wing nationalists in their own countries, with their own agendas. What happens if a hardline South Korean nationalist party gets into power? Indian or Pakistani? French? And that’s just on a foreign policy level. Even if they keep their attentions turned inward, the best case scenario is awful. Imagine life in the Philippines under a Duterte with even less fucks to give.

    • Abbey Bartlet

      I said to my mom yesterday that I’m sick of people trying to tell me it’s not that bad. She responded, “It’s not that bad. It’s worse.”

    • Chetsky

      I’m an immigrant. I came here at age 4. Age 4. I’ve never known any other country. This is “our country” to me. I’ve always been proud to be an -American-. Not a hyphenated-American. Always. Until now. Now, I think that perhaps I could get some sort of official credential from my birth-country, “just in case”. I wonder about how to take precautions, for the eventuality of becoming a refugee. I wonder how many acts, how serious acts, of resistance, I will undertake.

      And I look at my (used-to-be) fellow citizens, and wonder how they could have decided to throw away our Republic, for sheer racial resentment.

      I don’t think I’ll ever forgive them.

      Yeah: I’m terrified.

      • The Lorax

        I’m so sorry. Many of my students and their parents are in the same boat, and my heart breaks for them. I suspect there will be barricades in the streets of LA before they start taking people away. But I just have no idea anymore. Not a clue.

      • burritoboy

        I’m in the same general boat – I came here at age 4 too. But I guess I simply never fully bought into the whole American fantasy.

    • Hogan

      Best of luck with your dad. And, you know, the rest of it.

  • NoMoreAltCenter

    I am at least a million times more concerned about Trump destroying our welfare state than about him quitting a defense agreement aimed at a country with the population and GDP of Mexico.

    • …that just got him “elected” as our president.

    • Nick never Nick

      There are a few different reasons you might write this, but all of them depend on your being an impossibly stupid asshole.

      • brewmn

        Why does anyone on the left downplay the threat this guy poses to the world as we know it? Why are assholes like Greenwald, Taibbi, et al., not to mention the thousands of lesser idiots that pop up on Facebook and this blog arguing that we should do anything but unite in opposition to this motherfucker?

        I know the answer. I’m just amazed these people are still going to be nitpicking our outrage and braying “I told you so” when the social safety net is eliminated, the hard-won civil rights gained over the last eight years are taken away, and the country gets bankrupted engaging in misguided conflicts and toxic alliances.

        • Nick never Nick

          It is a mystery to me too — I understand that there are random people on the Internet who combine a need for attention with the belief that they’re the smartest people in the room . . . but those guys you mention are actually smart. Did they just trap themselves with some clever shit during the election, that makes them look like tools now that Trump won?

          • ΧΤΠΔ

            For Taibbi, yes. He gradually got worse during the election, which was accelerated after the primaries, but to my knowledge while he flirted with Berning out he’d never made any explicitly pro- or anti-anti-Trump noises the way Mark Ames had. (Although since then he wrote an atypically squishy piece on Russian interference with the election). Greenwald is a foreign policy PURITY BOI who’s fine with Donald’s election because he isn’t in the direct line of fire; this is more obvious in how he ran the Intercept than his individual columns, FWIW.

          • witlesschum

            I think a lot of people on the general far left see Trump’s election as basically what they’ve been warning the Democrats against for years, that if the party doesn’t embrace economic populism in some general, strong (but usually unspecified way), they were going to go down to total ruin.

            Then, the Democrats’ post election failure to see things exactly the same way and/or go to the far left saying “You were right all along, what should we do now!?!” is probably being seen as an indication that the Dems would rather lose with dread neoliberals than win with socialists.

            That’s my sense, as someone who sympathizes with the far left and its ideas and ideals generally, but doesn’t believe there’s any reason to believe those ideas are a surefire electoral winner.

            • Phil Perspective

              You do realize that weak-tea economic centrism will not beat Trump, right? That’s what lost this time. Who was out there yesterday helping lead the fight? That’s right, some old guy from Brooklyn! Did you see any of the crowds that turned up? On a football Sunday no less!!

              • witlesschum

                I realize that you’d like to believe that, Phil.

                I’d like to believe it, too, but the jury is very much out on the whole idea and the election of a reality TV buffoon who campaigned on racist blathering nonsense doesn’t increase my faith that if we give the electorate a choice between smart equalitarian populism it’ll pick that over stupid racist populism.

                We might, after all, just be screwed and the Democratic Party of Clinton and Obama is the best we can ever hope to do. That might or might not be so, but playing pretend and wishing isn’t much of a way make it not so.

      • NoMoreAltCenter

        Stay classy.

        • Warren Terra

          Russia has, in the last couple of years: killed many thousands of Ukrainian and Syrian civilians; displaced hundreds of thousands more; and interfered clandestinely in the politics of the US, Germany, and France, with the aim of debasing and degrading democracy and empowering Nazis. They are also continuing to promote Russian nationalist and separatist movements verging on insurgencies in several of their neighbors.

          Mexico has, in the same time period, been a respectable global citizen.

          I have no idea why you’d think it’s the GDP and population size that matters. Russia is willing to kill children and humanitarian aid workers by the busload – sometimes literally – in the furtherance of dometic approval ratings and obsolete geopolitical goals unconnected to any actual measurable self-interest. They do this protected by their nuclear arsenal, by Europe’s need for their natural gas, and by a general global unwillingness to make war on “a country with the population of Mexico” that more or less beat Hitler and Napoleon for the sake of a few hundred thousand people in poor countries where we’d rather not get involved.

          But, yeah, pretend they’re just like Mexico. Even though if Mexico were up to one tenth the belligerent nonsense Moscow is, we’d have invaded them or bombed them flat years ago.

          • NoMoreAltCenter

            “by a general global unwillingness to make war on “a country with the population of Mexico” that more or less beat Hitler and Napoleon for the sake of a few hundred thousand people in poor countries where we’d rather not get involved.”

            The Soviet Union was much, much larger and more powerful than modern day Rump Russia.

            “I have no idea why you’d think it’s the GDP and population size that matters.”

            Because those are the most salient measures of hard power in modern times.

            Even though if Mexico were up to one tenth the belligerent nonsense Moscow is, we’d have invaded them or bombed them flat years ago.

            Bloodthirsty is a good look for the Left.

            • Philip

              Me, I think nuclear holocaust is bad. But apparently the real leftist position is either “nuclear science is a lie, Nagasaki and Hiroshima were fire bombed!!” or that the lizard people took away the world’s nuclear launch capabilities.

              • NoMoreAltCenter

                If Russia decides to launch a nuclear war, a thousand NATOs won’t stop them. The end result would be the same for everyone.

          • They do this protected by their nuclear arsenal

            Which is reason enough not to start a war with them.

            I was in SAC during the Cold War. I have seen the projected effects of a nuclear exchange with Russia.

            Even though nuclear arsenals today aren’t what they were in the 1980s, it would still be the end of civilization as we know it.

            Much as I enjoy playing Fallout 4, I have no desire to live there.

            • Domino

              Remember – Fallout takes place 200 years AFTER the nuclear apocalypse.

            • Tristan

              So is that stuff about New Zealand being relatively safe true? Asking for a friend.

    • Gareth

      If they had Mexico’s army and navy, we could relax.

  • brewmn

    Daniel, I have to step in here to say that this post absolutely terrifies me. I oscillate between just hating Trump and all his racist fuck supporters and thinking this is just the next round in the culture wars we’ve been fighting for the last fifty years, and fearing that he will destroy the world order as we know it (which I may have rhetorically supported as a punk in the 1980’s, but which, as a middle-class guy with kids. horrifies me today. And not just for me and mine).

    That’s another way of saying your contributions here are consistently thought-provoking, and I really welcome your addition to the LGM roster.

    Keep scaring the shit out of me, if you think it’s warranted.

    • The Lorax

      I agree. Great post. And let me say: what the fuck is going on??

  • Kasparov is a conspiracy theorist (google “kasparov new chronology”) and has shitty politics otherwise. He is not an expert on Putin or Russia, he just hates Putin and is famous. I don’t understand why people keep on citing him like he’s some sort of insightful thinker.

    • NoMoreAltCenter

      Wow, I agree with you on something.

      • humanoid.panda

        This comic explains his appeal to a T.

        Add to this the appeal of the exiled dissenter and voila! An expert.

      • Unbelievable. People on the left agreeing?

    • Rob in CT

      I had gotten that impression myself. This seems to be a broken clock is right twice a day thing.

      • humanoid.panda

        The best way to adress it is that Kasparov is a demented conspiracy monger, but that the unique politics of Russia make conspiracymongering as good method of analysis as any other. For example: “Putin used a series of bombings of residential buildings conducted by the FSB as false flag operations to consolidate his power at the dawn of his reign” sounds like crazy shit, until you realize that, yeah, the evidence for this contention is strong.

    • random

      IIRC Kasparov was one of the few reasonable people pushing back against the ‘NSA===KGB’ conspiracies back during the heydays of the Snowden Job.

      • Davis X. Machina

        He’s got the right enemies — he has been cuffed and stuffed at least once, during the Pussy Riot protests.

        • Oooh! It’s just occurred to me that this coming weekend’s Women’s March on Washington could be rebranded as The Pink Pussy Riot!! Which would totally clarify things!!!

    • Phil Perspective

      We agree on something!! Kasparov is just pissed because his preferred Davos-loving far-right oligarchs aren’t in control re: Russia.

  • JohnT

    The other thing that Trump doesn’t understand about NATO and the Atlantic system is that to some extent the fact that the rather expensive security blanket covers Europe keeps EU defense expenditures down is a big upside for American global supremacy. If the EU countries, even excluding the UK, felt seriously threatened and deprived of aforesaid blanket, they might well a) stick together more and b) spend a lot more of GDP on their defense.
    But here’s the thing. The population of the EU (ex UK) is about 450m with a GDP that matches or exceed the USA’s, an industrial base second to none, and enough military traditions to form a very solid base to work off. With 10 years of GDP expenditure of say 5%/$1trn (quite doable if they really felt threatened) they could become a credible military competitor to the USA. They’re not now owing to a canny US investment of around – what $50 bn per annum? – which encourages them to be lazy and not bother. Keeping NATO up and the Europeans lazy was a very smart peace of US geostrategy, not an accident. Trump should be careful about breaking what he doesn’t understand.

    • Rob in CT

      True, but this requires Euro unity that seems less and less likely as time passes.

      • JohnT

        The only thing that could do it at this point is being loudly and explicitly threatened by both Russia and the USA simultaneously.

        Hmmm…

        • JohnT

          To elaborate on the above, if Le Pen and Wilders are defeated (which still seem likely) then the France-Germany axis will stay strong. That almost automatically nets you the Benelux and Austria as well, giving the core European alliance of about 180m, including the strongest and most high-tech industrial areas. If Trump follows through on abandoning Eastern Europe then the Scandinavians, Poles, Balts, Czechs, Slovaks and probably Romanians will probably try to strengthen their alliance with French and Germans rather than reconcile with the Russians. The only open question is whether the Iberians and Italians become so disenchanted with the damage done by the euro that they drift off.

          • ΧΤΠΔ

            What of Greece & the Balkans? (sorry, don’t follow this too closely)

            • JohnT

              As I understand it (and my understanding is also limited) Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Serbia and the only European countries with large pro-Russian constituencies, so I don’t think that they would feel obliged to make a positive choice to stick to the ‘programme’ in the same way that the Poles might feel obliged.

          • Rob in CT

            I believe those defeats when I see them.

            • JohnT

              Yes…in that case I may, once Trump is gone, have to swallow my pride and look for work in the cities of verdant Connecticut. Because if they (especially Le Pen) win this year then the EU will fall, and I think war will be on the agenda by the time my sons are old enough to be conscripted.

    • Mellano

      Fillon seems like the presumptive favorite in the French presidential … not much sense of his commitment to the EU, though on domestic matters he sounds like a hellmouth. Still, at this point I hope the Republicains pull off a dominant enough win that they claim the mantle of French conventional FP and don’t feel like they have to co-opt the FP’s euroskepticism.

  • jgittes

    I am ashamed to admit that until about 10 years ago, I read pretty much all of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan novels and CP’s comment at 12:25 above about Clancy’s novels started me thinking. All of Trump’s stated foreign policy comments are directly taken from Jack Ryan’s thoughts. Distrust of the intelligence community (except for those personally known to him); alliance with Russia against China; bombing of Iran; opening an explicit two China policy. Some details are different (Ryan gets Russia into NATO so that the US can send troops into Russia against China) but the overall tone and approach is the same.

    I understand that Trump doesn’t read, and the Clancy novels are lengthy and detailed. But the similarities are rather striking, particularly the ability to assess foreign leader’s intentions by personal interaction, a black and white world view and his certainty of analysis and action.

    This is a rather frightening world view combined with his personal belief that he is the only one strong enough to see it and act.

    • jgittes

      And it is twice ironic that Clancy created the 9/11 scenario by crashing a fully fueled airliner into the US Capitol and that Alec Baldwin was the first actor to portray Jack Ryan in The Hunt for Red October.

      • humanoid.panda

        When I was learning how to read English in junior high, one of the first long books I picked up was Executive Orders, the book where Ryan becomes president, after that Japanese bombing. All of his moves from that point on are “common sense” by the measure of a succesful white guy in one field who thinks he understands everything about the world: he institutes the flat tax because (of course!) its fair, appoints a new Supreme Court that will consist (obviously!) of people who just read what’s in the constitution, ends the drug problem by (it’s so simple!) making drug users do hard labor in public, etc. The whole epistemology underlying the book is that every problem has simple solutions that Washington can’t figure out because of an alliance of corrupt elites and pseudo-sophisticated egg-heads. Trump, being of same age, and more or less same background as Clancy, is basically implementing the same philosophy.

        • Mellano

          One thing that stood out to me on dipping into those books as an adult was Ryan’s insistence on thinking to himself how much he hates war, how awful war is, and how it’s of paramount importance that CIA work to head it off. There’s a whole he-doth-protest-too-much element of it which Trump echoes (nobody hates war more than Trump does, which is presumably why he got a draft deferment physical).

          Some major differences are that Ryan is professionally very competent, a talented investor, shows good strategic judgment/insight (at least in the earlier books), and is personally brave, both physically and morally (in the sense that he defies his superiors when he thinks necessary). But then the books are fiction.

          • David Allan Poe

            The “I-hate-war-but-I-keep-getting-forced-into-it-by-these-foreigners-and-weak-minded-peaceniks” trope is an old chestnut of the authoritarian mind. Related to “She-wanted-it,” “I’m-not-racist-just-observant,” and “We’re-forced-to-move-the-plant-to-Bangladesh.”

            • CP

              The “I-hate-war-but-I-keep-getting-forced-into-it-by-these-foreigners-and-weak-minded-peaceniks” trope is an old chestnut of the authoritarian mind.

              Yep, it’s what they say in public for respectability’s sake.

              I can’t remember the specifics right now, but I remember coming out of “American Sniper” a few years ago and finding it interesting that they’d felt the need to reinvent Chris Kyle as the most common Hollywood archetype of a reluctant warrior who really wishes there were another way but won’t shirk his duty cause his Pa taught him how to be a real man. As opposed to the real life character, who said he “had the time of his life” in Iraq and was repeatedly caught fabricating stories of O. K. Corral type shootouts to bolster his image as a badass.

          • humanoid.panda

            Some major differences are that Ryan is professionally very competent, a talented investor, shows good strategic judgment/insight (at least in the earlier books), and is personally brave, both physically and morally (in the sense that he defies his superiors when he thinks necessary). But then the books are fiction.

            In one book, Clear and Present Danger, Ryan actually stops a dirty war, and then goes to Congress to whistle-blow, and in another, he thinks the Gorbachev character is for real, unlike some conservatives in the CIA. He also helps to broker a peace accord between Israelis and Palestinians based on the 1967 borders and internatilization of Jerusalem, and then stops nuclear retaliation when terrorists blow up the Superbowl, in the Sum of All Fears. It’s pretty clear there is an “early” Clancy who was conservative but not a wingnut, and a later Clancy who was a wingnut. I wonder if 9/11 and/or Clancy’s increasing tax bill had something to do with that.

    • CP

      I have too. Mostly during a teenage phase of military nerd/just discovering politics. As with Call of Duty games, it’s nothing to be ashamed of, as long as it’s not the basis of your entire worldview.

      I actually still consider the Ryanverse an interesting read in that it shows the author’s gradual devolution from a guy who wrote genuinely good books and happened to be conservative, to a professionally conservative cretin who put ideology above everything else (somewhat mirroring the path of his party as a whole). A few months ago, someone else here pointed out that it’s actually jarring to read his early books like “Patriot Games,” which are all about how murky and difficult analytical work is and how there’s just too much data to sift through. And then to switch to “Executive Orders,” where this new president who’s spent years in CIA analysis suddenly decides “welp, I’m going to triple the number of spies, but in order to make it Revenue Neutral, I’m going to make up for that by firing an equivalent number of people in analysis and admin!” In other words, massively increase the amount of information coming in while massively decreasing your ability to make sense of it.

      It makes no goddamn sense, but it checks off the conservative ideological boxes of “we need more Manly Men doing manly field work, not desk-weenies in cubicles!” and “we must balance the budget, even at the expense of efficiency!”

      • witlesschum

        I read a lot of Clancy and his mainly inferior followers like Larry Bond as a teenager and stuck with it through the one that ends with the airliner kamikaze attack.

        Clancy’s silliness started to really emerge in The Sum of All Fears, which featured his pretty-naked Clinton surrogate behaving foolishly in various unserious ways, and “just common sense” solution to Israel-Palestine. He was a creature of the Cold War and I don’t think he really managed to reorient himself after that, though I remember A Clear and Present Danger as being okay.

        At his worst Clancy never got as bad as some real life Republican foreign policy thinkers.

        • CP

          He was a creature of the Cold War and I don’t think he really managed to reorient himself after that

          I think this describes a huge chunk of the Republican foreign policy establishment, and is a big part of why the war on terror quickly turned into such a freaking mess. From the “axis of evil” speech onwards it had the feel of Reagan/Bush I era stars trying to relive their glory days and force the world into a shape they understood, confronting “rogue states” from the Desert Storm and late Cold War era. The problems of transnational terrorism rooted in allied nations like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia that we couldn’t for various reasons just bomb into submission were completely alien to them.

          (Also explains why rejection of Trump, with his pre-Cold-War-ish ideas about foreign policy, was so strong in that lot).

          • witlesschum

            Truth. Though given that the other choice was a probably a Bush foreign policy completely run by the whackier neocons, the old Cold War guys aren’t the worst case scenario.

        • EliHawk

          One thing that’s funny in hindsight is to look back at the film version of Sum of All Fears and realize that the Russian leader in that film is a clear Putin Expy (played by Mance Rayder from Game of Thrones), presented as a good, sensible guy who has nothing to do with gassing the hell out of Chechens.

          (It’s also funny to watch young Ben Affleck trying to do the handsome movie star thing and think he could probably direct a better geopolitical thriller, even if playing the ‘Thinking Man’s Action Hero’ really isn’t his thing.)

          • CP

            Oh, I love that movie. Shallow and silly as it might’ve been. It came out just a couple months after Le Pen (the original) shocked the nation and much of the West by making it to the run-off election. So while everyone else hated the movie for turning the bad guys from radical Palestinians into European neo-fascists, I for one enjoyed the heck out of that. (Especially as the Le Pen expy gets strangled by his co-conspirators early in the movie).

            • EliHawk

              It has its charms, including Liev Schrieber and the ending climax where Cromwell and three great character actors are yelling the overloving shit at each other on Air Force One while pondering Armageddon. That film’s one of the better uses of a supporting cast–everyone outside of Affleck and Freeman was probably pretty cheap, but they all fit perfectly.

              Besides, the original terrorist cabal was its own kind of mess, not just being radical Palestinians but also disaffected East German radicals who wanted to punish the USSR for dumping communism. It really would not have worked to keep it as is if you were using a post-Cold War setting; It’s really a book that could only work from, say, 1988-1991.

              • David Allan Poe

                Don’t forget the prison-radicalized Native American patsy whose vaguely leftist ideals were used for nefarious purposes by those Sophisticated Foreigners!

                • witlesschum

                  That was a great moment in condescending characterization.

              • CP

                Besides, the original terrorist cabal was its own kind of mess, not just being radical Palestinians but also disaffected East German radicals who wanted to punish the USSR for dumping communism. It really would not have worked to keep it as is if you were using a post-Cold War setting; It’s really a book that could only work from, say, 1988-1991.

                Yeah, this kind of went over everyone’s head in the complaints. The “Arabs” in the original book were, as you say, left-wing radicals (the PFLP type) allied with other left-wing radicals, of a type that was basically extinct by the new millennium. People wanted them to be al-Qaeda or Hamas types in the movies, not realizing that would be just as huge a departure from the book as making them neo-Nazis.

        • EliHawk

          Funnily enough, the Clinton surrogate is actually a Dukakis surrogate by Clancy’s own admission. The book actually came out in 1991. It’s pretty hilarious though, that he thought that Michael Dukakis of “I’m not even going to raise an eyebrown when you say my wife was raped and murdered” is Clancy’s idea of someone who goes apeshit under pressure.

          • witlesschum

            Interesting, I always thought he was meant to be Clinton, despite being a New Englander, but I guess duh.

            I thought the big juxtaposition of him as a silly peacenik who never served in the military with the serious Vietnam vet Democrat V.P. who replaces him was meant to be a dig at Clinton.

            • Hogan

              Nah, that’s every Democratic presidential candidate since forever.

              • CP

                I always wondered if it was meant to be a reversal of JFK/Curtis LeMay in the Cuban missile crisis. An alternate universe fantasy in which the liberal president is the one unsuited for a crisis who loses his shit and wants to blow up the world, and his hard-nosed hawk adviser is the one who saves him, instead of the inverse. Being that so much of Tom Clancy is basically an alternate universe written to vindicate his preconceptions…

                • witlesschum

                  That’s how it played, yeah. Squishy Dem president (?) was both insufficiently warlike and serious ahead of time and then freaks out wanting to nuke a whole Iranian city because a piece of faulty intelligence fingers a particular mullah as being behind the nuclear attack on the U.S.

      • sibusisodan

        I think that might have been me. I really enjoy reading Clancy, but the later stuff is so very, very silly.

        Government appears to consist of about 3 people. Congress is irrelevant.

        Good job nobody reads it as a manual for governance!

        • CP

          In case you’re interested, I picked up one of the ghostwritten post-Clancy books at an airport last Thanksgiving. It’s still so very, very silly, but they’ve trimmed back on the interminable political screeds a lot and leaving it at nothing but regular black ops/spy adventure stuff. The result is reasonably entertaining and something like Abrams-Trek/Wars, less good than the original product but better than the crap it had descended into towards the end.

    • CP

      Also, some of it’s accidentally good in a way Clancy didn’t intend. I read most of the Ryanverse in the early Bush years, and the depiction of the Chinese government in “The Bear and the Dragon” is quite unintentionally (the book precedes it by a few years) a pretty spot-on depiction of the Bush administration in Iraq.

  • LosGatosCA

    Trump Endorses American Geopolitical Suicide

    Fitting since the white supremacists endorsed economic suicide when they voted for him.

    ETA – the 1% class warriors voted for him because they benefit from the white supremacist seppuku.

    Just this generation’s validation of Jay Gould’s hiring prediction.

  • Rob in CT

    By the way, another possible way of interpreting this is that this is Trump “negging” our allies. Then he hits them up for concessions (spend more $$ on your militaries) in exchange for re-affirming out commitment to NATO. [This is dangerous, but might be less insane overall]

    Of course, I’m old enough to remember when Obama not doing exactly what one particular ally client state wanted was “selling out our allies!!111!!” according to wingers. I predict that exactly none of them will be bothered by this.

    • humanoid.panda

      According the the Israeli media, he had been nagging Bibi to come to the inauguration, and Bibi refused, both because he is busy being investigated for corruption at home, and because he is too smart to be seen as part of the Trump train. Which just shows that like every good MRA, Trump, deep down inside, knows he is a beta..

  • Todd

    Don’t understand this for either side. Even if we just assume Trump is either ignorant or compromised vis-a-vis Russia, why are so many Repubs going along or staying silent? This sort of Russian outreach and alliance endangerment would be pretty easy to shut down if Republicans presented a united front. Some of them must be okay with this. Bannon? Priebus? Flynn, I guess, and Tillerson. Just not seeing why. Is it just pure racism? But the rest of Europe is also overwhelmingly white.

    And for Russia, what is the long game? Seems this set of circumstances is very likely to come back to bite them. Haven’t the odds increased dramatically that the next president will be formally and aggressively much more anti-Russian and pro-Europe?

    • Davis X. Machina

      But the rest of Europe is also overwhelmingly white.

      White enough for your taste, and perhaps most of us.

      But for Putin? Trump? LePen? Farage? Frauke Petry?

      • Todd

        But aside from walls and no more immigration, what is the end game? Just a bunch of isolationist nation-states with tariffs and lower corporate taxes? Just a conspiracy to get poorer so that Putin can be given effective control over all the former Soviet republics? It’s such an odd narrow and conflicting set of goals.

        • Davis X. Machina

          Just a bunch of isolationist nation-states with tariffs and lower corporate taxes?

          It doesn’t have to make sense, it just has to feel good. If it feels good enough, given the mechanisms of parliamentary democracy, it is good enough.

        • CP

          Just a bunch of isolationist nation-states with tariffs and lower corporate taxes?

          No, a bunch of isolated and quarreling nation-states who are no longer in a position to present a united front against Russia, and that he, thanks to his ties to their far right movements, can easily play off against each other.

        • David Allan Poe

          Having grown up a right winger, and having stayed more or less familiar since then with the various flavors of right wing “thinking,” it’s important to understand that a whole lot of it isn’t really aimed at achieving “goals.” It’s basically reasoning from first principles – white people are Good, America is (or was) Great, America is Freedom, People with Money are Smart, God is on Our Side – and letting those principles play out in the world. Where there are concrete goals, they are usually very short-term in orientation and derive naturally from the first principles – Make a Profit this Quarter, Shut that Uppity Brown Person Up, Convert this Person by Sense or by Sword. When the “goals” are longterm, they are so vague as to be meaningless slogans – Make America Great Again, The South will Rise Again, Drown the Government in a Bathtub – and only serve to increase the numbers of their coalition.

          Ally this sort of mindset to the kind of amoral hypercompetent technocrat that any modern organization needs to function and you have a powerful tool for Making Things Happen. No conspiracy required.

    • Linnaeus

      In regards to your first question. I have two guesses. The first is that the Republicans don’t care enough about Russia and are willing to go along with Trump on that because he is useful enough to them for the purposes of enacting their desired (terrible) domestic policies. The second is that congressional Republicans might be afraid that crossing Trump too openly will generate primary opposition next time around.

      As for your second question, two more guesses: One, maybe Putin hasn’t really gamed this out for the long term very well – he’s just doing foreign policy the only way that he knows how to do. Two, maybe he figures that he can get enough of what he wants in the near term (and enough that Russia will be able to consolidate) that a future US President that is more hostile to him won’t really matter that much. In this scenario, he’d probably try to spin a hostile US into an advantage domestically by using the US as a villain to justify his continued authoritarian rule, much like he does now.

    • CP

      Just not seeing why. Is it just pure racism? But the rest of Europe is also overwhelmingly white.

      See what I posted above: Europeans are viewed as “white” in the same way coastal liberals are viewed as “white,” that is, decadent corrupt cosmopolitan race traitors who weaken us from the inside.

  • Quite Likely

    Who’s still claiming that the EU is a force for political liberalization? Membership certainly hasn’t stopped Hungary from sliding into authoritarianism. The current economic mismanagement of the continent is if anything harmful to the liberalizing project.

    • While the EU isn’t really a force for liberalization, at least anymore, it is a common project shared by numerous countries that in a previous era would be fighting each other. I agree that the EU should be doing more about the situation in Hungary.

      Also, while it is true that the current mismanagement of the EU is harmful to “the liberalizing project”, even saying this raises the question “what liberalizing project?”. If that liberalizing project is the EU, or what the EU could be, then the mismanagement is destructive because it is destructive to the EU- and that means destroying the EU is a bad thing.

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