Trump Announces End of NATO ‘Free Milk’ Policy

Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0

By Mark Serrano for RealClearDefense

The mainstream media and political establishment are outraged over Donald Trump’s latest comments about NATO. Instead of all the dramatic pearl-clutching, they should be embracing his position.

Trump recently issued a stern warning to America’s NATO allies, specifically those who are still failing to uphold their commitment to spending at least 2 percent of GDP on defense. Recounting a conversation he had with the leader of a delinquent NATO member who sought reassurance that America would defend their country from Russian attack, Trump declared that he would let Russia do “whatever the hell they want” to NATO countries that refuse to make minimum expenditures toward their own defense.

This isn’t a new concept, and it’s not nearly as “shocking” as the media and political elites want you to think it is.

For the past 70 years, NATO has maintained a baseline defense spending guideline that is understood and formally agreed to by all 31 member states. In 2014, the alliance members agreed to spend at least 2 percent of GDP on defense by 2024. This makes perfect sense. What good is an alliance if one or more parties to the agreement let their military capabilities atrophy to the point where they can’t render meaningful aid in an emergency?

Sadly, only 18 out of 31 NATO members are currently meeting their defense spending obligation. The list of delinquents includes countries that should be among NATO’s leading militaries, such as France, Germany, Canada, Italy, and Turkey. Notably, almost all the countries that face a credible threat from Russia – such as Poland, Hungary, Romania, Estonia, Latvia, and Finland – are already spending at least 2 percent of GDP on defense.

American politicians, primarily on the Republican side, have been pointing out for decades that European nations have been sheltering under the American defense umbrella for free and spending their savings to prop up massive welfare states. The only reason they could afford to do this is because the United States made clear that it would come to their aid without question or reservation if they were ever attacked.

Why buy the cow when you’re getting the milk for free?

Donald Trump holds the same view that has long been mainstream in conservative circles – our NATO allies should spend enough to maintain credible military deterrence, both to lessen the likelihood that they will need US aid, and to make them more effective partners in the event that the US requires thei…