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What Allies are For

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Strangely, when we hear claims that the Obama administration coddles enemies and scorns friends they never refer to concerns like this:

Fresh from signing a strategic nuclear arms deal with Russia, the United States is parrying a push by NATO allies to withdraw its aging stockpile of tactical nuclear weapons from Europe.

At a meeting of foreign ministers of NATO countries here, officials from Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and other countries are prodding the United States to begin negotiations with Russia for steep reductions in nonstrategic nuclear weapons — mostly aerial bombs which, in the case of those belonging to the United States, are stored in underground vaults on air bases in five NATO countries.

For conservatives, the concept of the “Coalition of the Willing” is a doubly useful concept.  When we want to invade a country, we simply assemble what allies can be cheaply purchased.  When we want marshal arguments about the “weakness” of a Democratic administration, we rhetorically collect a group of disgruntled allies to insist that our friends are losing confidence in our resolve. This is because, with perhaps one or two exceptions, the views of allies are never valuable to conservatives in and of themselves.  Rather, those views are only meaningful insofar as they provide symbolic ammunition to be fired either on the domestic or international stage. The fact that most Europeans have no interest in keeping US tactical nuclear warheads on their territory is irrelevant compared to the rhetorical value of the few complaints about American “abandonment.”  In this sense, conservatives genuinely are quite Realist, in the sense that they view allies in purely utilitarian terms.  This is also why conservatives so desperately loathe the State Department, through which the actual views of actual friends are channeled at oft inconvenient times.

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