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What Part of “Obsolete” Does Trump Not Understand?


An online dictionary defines “obsolete” as “out of date” and lists such synonyms as outdated, outmoded, and old-fashioned.

All right then. What part of “obsolete” does President Trump not understand?

Throughout his campaign for president, he told audiences that NATO was “obsolete.” That’s the word he used. Indeed, at least once since he was elected president, he again referred to this old Cold War-era apparatus as “obsolete.”

Yet, speaking for the national-security branch of the federal government, which is the most powerful branch of the federal government, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps. Gen. Joe Dunford, told an audience this week that the United States remains firmly committed to NATO.

Dunford also made it clear that the United States remained unconditionally bound to automatically go to war to defend any and all members of NATO from an attack, presumably without the necessity of a congressional declaration of war, as the U.S. Constitution requires.

Reinforcing Dunford’s view was Mike Pence, who, as Trump’s vice-president, is a member of the executive branch of the federal government. He said in Brussels this week that the Trump administration’s support for NATO is “unwavering.”

Last week Defense Secretary Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis, another military general, confirmed his allegiance to NATO, calling it “a fundamental bedrock for the US and all the transatlantic community.”

For his part, Trump has been saying that NATO members need to pony up their required contributions to NATO.

Doesn’t all that seem a bit illogical? After all, why force taxpayers, both American and European, to continue contributing their hard-earned money to an entity that is obsolete, outdated, outmoded, and old-fashioned?”

Let’s not forget why NATO was brought into existence.

At the end of World War II, U.S. officials told the American people that, alas, their travails were not over, notwithstanding the fact that they had won the war. American now faced, they were told, an arguably more powerful enemy than Nazi Germany, one that was supposedly hell-bent to take over the world.

This new enemy consisted of communism and the Soviet Union, which, ironically, had been America’s close partner and ally during World War II. U.S. officials told Americans that there was a worldwide communist conspiracy based in Moscow that posed a grave threat to the freedom of the American people.

That’s why the federal government was converted into a national-security state after the war, without even the semblance of a constitutional amendment. U.S. officials said that it was necessary for America to adopt this type of totalitarian-like government structure to fight fire with fire. Once this Cold War was won, Americans were told, they would be permitted to have their limited-government republic back.

It’s also why NATO was called into existence — to protect Western Europe from the Soviet Union, which was supposedly was aching to invade that part of the world on its way to taking over South America, Central America, North America, and the rest of the world.

Why were U.S. officials convinced that the Soviets wanted to take over Western Europe? Because at the end of the war, the Soviets retained control over Eastern Europe, which they had invaded on their way to defeating Germany. Never mind, of course, that U.S. officials, led by President Franklin Roosevelt, had intentionally and knowingly delivered those countries into the clutches of their communist partner and ally during the war. That’s what the Yalta Conference was all about.

Never mind, also, that at the end of World War II, the Soviet Union was totally devastated, had no industrial base, had suffered millions of casualties, had a socialist economic system, and was faced with the United States, which had nuclear weapons and an enormously strong economic and industrial foundation. Despite all that, U.S. officials told Americans that the needed a garrison state and NATO to protect America and Europe from a Soviet invasion that supposedly could come at any time.

In fact, the socialist aspect of the Soviet Union always posed an interesting quandary for American conservatives, most of whom loved the fact that America was being converted into a military state. On the one hand, conservatives were saying that the Soviet Union would ultimately implode because socialism was an inherently defective system. On the other hand, conservatives were saying that the Soviet Union was an all-powerful nation that threatened to conquer the United States and the world. That basic inconsistency never seemed to bother conservatives.

Of course, it was all bunk. There was never any reason for America to be converted into a national-security state. There was never any reason for a Cold War. The United States and Europe could have lived in peaceful coexistence with communist regimes, much as they do today with China, Vietnam, Cuba, and Venezuela.

That, of course, was the message that President Kennedy was delivering to the American people up until the day he was killed, after having waged three years of political and bureaucratic warfare against the Cold War-era national-security establishment. (See JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated by Douglas Horne.)

In 1989, the Cold War ended. The Soviet Union dismantled, as did the Warsaw Pact. Germany was united. No more Berlin Wall and no more Berlin crises. Soviet troops exited Eastern Europe.

All that necessarily meant, of course, that the justification for NATO and, for that matter, the entire U.S. national-security establishment, was no more.

But as we have seen with bureaucracies, once you bring them into existence they sometimes become like a permanent cancer on the body politic. While the Warsaw Pact was willing to go away since the Cold War was now over, not so with NATO. Since it had “won,” this old Cold War dinosaur decided that it had earned the right to remain in existence forever.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of it. Rather than just existing and letting NATO officials collect their tax-funded salaries, NATO instead decided to provoke trouble with their old Soviet enemy, now reconstituted as Russia, which had been the core nation of the Soviet Union. Absorbing the old Warsaw Pact nations, NATO forces inexorably moved east — toward Russia.

When NATO finally got close to absorbing Ukraine, after the CIA’s regime-change operation there, that meant that U.S. forces and missiles would be based along Russia’s border, not to mention a complete U.S. military takeover of Russia’s longtime military base in Crimea.

That’s when Russia decided to respond, in much the same way that the United States would have responded if, say, Russia did the same thing in, say, Cuba.

All the while, U.S. officials, along with their mainstream media assets, played the innocent. “We’ve done nothing wrong,” they cried. “The crisis is all Putin’s fault.”

Trump had it right — NATO is obsolete. This old Cold War dangerous dinosaur should never have come into existence but at the very least, by the terms of its original mission, it should have gone out of existence in 1989.

President Trump should forget about forcing European and American taxpayers to continue funding this old Cold War dinosaur. There is only one good thing to do with an obsolete bureaucracy, especially one that is dangerous and destructive: Dismantle it.



This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.