Non-NATO Defense Spending

President Donald Trump often decries Europe’s NATO nations for their lack of seriousness about their defense, and he zealously insists that they honor their commitment to spend 2% of their national GDP on defense.  It’s arguable that Trump could ease off (a little bit) and acknowledge the progress he’s made in getting Europe’s NATO members to boost their spending.

But only a little bit because those nations don’t appear to be stepping up in any serious way, as these numbers from a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed demonstrate.

Overall inflation-adjusted military spending by every NATO member excluding America grew 1.8% in 2015, 3.1% in 2016, and 4.8% last year.

Norway Gets It

Norway is asking us to double the number of troops we have stationed there and to move them closer to its border with Russia.  It’s a pittance—700 Marines vs the 330 we have there now—but we need to work with Norway very seriously to figure out how to do this.

Norway said the invitation was about NATO training and improving winter fighting capability.

“Allies get better at training together,” Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen told reporters.

Yewbetcha.  And joint training is especially important in the face of demonstrated Russian aggression and its stationing of nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad.

Gauntlet Thrown Down

The members of the Group of Seven, just met in Canada last week, were invited to form a tariff-free trade zone by President Donald Trump.

no tariffs, no barriers…and no subsidies.

International trade doesn’t get much freer than that.

Will anyone in the G-7 have the courage to take Trump up on his offer—or to call his bluff, if that’s what they think it is?

Anyone?  Beuller?

What Hurts

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas thinks President Donald Trump is “consciously accepting” that things like our withdrawal from Iran’s nuclear weapons deal is hurting our allies in Europe and the Middle East.  Deutsche Welle cited him as saying that

We cannot look away.  He knows that what he is doing is of direct detriment to Europe.

No, what is acting to the direct detriment of Europe (and to our Middle East allies and friends) is Europe’s insistence on preserving a nuclear weapons deal that allows Iran to obtain nuclear weapons.  The extent to which European nations are consciously accepting of this destructive deal is the extent to which we have to act unilaterally.

A Thought on Nationhood

Germany has one, and it centers on immigrants assimilating into German culture rather than holding themselves apart while taking advantage of the German benefits that drew the immigrants in the first place.  It’s articulated by Joachim Gauck, President of Germany from 2012-2017.  He told Bild

“I find it unacceptable that people who have been living in Germany for decades cannot hold a conversation in German, do not attend parent-teacher conferences or keep their children from going to classes or sports.”

Brexit Failure in the Offing?

Great Britain’s Labour Party is about to offer legislation that looks a great deal like it [emphasis added].

It shall be a negotiating objective of Her Majesty’s Government to ensure the United Kingdom has full access to the internal market of the European Union, underpinned by shared institutions and regulations, with no new impediments to trade and common rights, standards and protections as a minimum.

There’s very little difference between this and Remain.  Labour is suggesting Britain’s abject surrender in the Brexit negotiations with the Moghuls of Brussels.

Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Deal

“Senior European officials” are sad because the deal might be in jeopardy.  They even wrote a letter to President Donald Trump, worrying that

their efforts to save the Iranian nuclear accord by maintaining major trade and investment with Tehran are buckling in the face of planned US sanctions.

My heart bleeds.  These worthies shouldn’t be trying to trade with a terrorist-supporting nation bent on getting nuclear weapons.  Especially since Iran will use those weapons to fulfill its long-standing commitment to destroy Israel, and it will sell such weapons to its terrorist clients for them to use…on Europe as well as on us.

Another Facebook Fail

Chinese firms Huawei, Lenovo, Oppo and TCL were among numerous handset makers that were given access to Facebook data in what the US company said was “a controlled operation.”

The social media giant’s vice president of mobile partnerships, Francisco Varela, confirmed a report in The New York Times Tuesday that Facebook had given Chinese device makers deep access to the data of users’ friends without their explicit consent.

A “controlled operation.”  Meaning the accesses were deliberately granted, consents were deliberately not requested in advance.  Which raises the question: were any consents actively withheld and those denials ignored by Facebook?

A New US-RoK Alliance?

That’s what Michael O’Hanlon, of the Brookings Institution wants.  He thinks a continued, but greatly reduced alliance would be a useful tradeoff for northern Korea’s elimination of its nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons development program along with a reduction in its conventional military forces.  Aside from the utter naivete of the suggestion that northern Korea would reduce its conventional capability along with giving up its nuclear capability—or especially in light of that cessation—one comment at the end of his piece really illustrates the naivete of his idea.

The heavy Army brigade now in Korea might be transformed into a light brigade, better suited for peacekeeping missions.

Offensive, Is It?

Recall that President Donald Trump has decided to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum on national security grounds, and that these tariffs impact Canadian (among other nations’) imports to the US.  Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finds it offensive that Trump considers Canada a security threat to the US.

Really, he said that.

No, what’s offensive is Trudeau’s cynical distortion of the purpose of those tariffs.  The national security threat for us is our inability to produce our own steel and aluminum, not the steel and aluminum we might import.  Whether tariffs are the best way to encourage recovery of that ability can be debated, but it’s clearly self-sufficiency that’s our concern, not imports per se.