I genuinely wish that President Obama, using his typically low affect delivery, would have said some of the things that President Trump is saying to our alleged NATO allies. Alas, that was not to be. It wouldn’t have made them like the message any more but at least it wouldn’t have drawn the ire that Trump’s remarks are.
To understand where things stand now, spending is a pretty good first order approximation of military readiness. Now draw a graph for Germany or France or the UK or any other NATO country with two lines on it, one for 2% of GDP, the other for actual military spending as a percentage of GDP since 1991. The difference between those two lines is what they have to spend to catch up. It’s patently obvious they’re not going to do it but they can’t make up for their past deficits any other way.
Of course our purported allies like the status quo. We take the risks and they reap the benefits. We draw the fire while they sit in the bunker. We neither can nor should continue along our present path.
There are two radically different views of the position of the U. S. in the world. You might call them the Snow White view and the John Marshall view. In the first we are overwhelmingly strong and stand head shoulders above any other country. That has been our historical position and it hasn’t worked and, worse, is unsustainable. It assumes that the U. S. has not only the preeminent military in the world but the preeminent economy and events strongly suggest that won’t be the case. We can’t afford the one without the other. The other approach is more a primus inter pares approach. The Chief Justice’s vote counts for no more than those of the associate justices. Strong allies and a strong alliance. I doubt we can any longer get there from here.