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Monday, March 20, 2017

A Promise Kept, A Message Delivered: President Trump delivers a much-needed reality check on Germany and Chancellor Angela Merkel re their longstanding failure to honor their NATO pledge. Trump bluntly says what Americans have wanted to hear: It's time for Germany to pay what they owe and live up to their promise. No more excuses!; Anne Applebaum continues to disappoint me

Screenshot of The Drudge Report of March 18, 2017: U Owe Us

Last Friday during her visit to the White House, German Chancellor Angela Merkel received a strong dose of unfiltered President Donald J. Trump, who delivered the reality check he promised to deliver to NATO allies during the 2016 election campaign regarding their longstanding failure to live up to their own past pledges to spend at least 2% of their GDP on their own defense spending. 

Instead of doing what the U.S. foreign policy elites in Washington wanted him to do, which was to allow this unproductive behavior of Germany -and so many other NATO members- to continue, or, if brought up at all, to talk about it away from the prying eyes of cameras of the U.S. news media and the American people, President Trump delivered on yet another important campaign promise, and did so in an honest away that neither Presidents Obama, Bush or Clinton ever did, that left no room for any misunderstanding.
We are talking about you, Germany.


FEBRUARY 21, 2017
Germany’s Self-Imposed Obstacles to Increasing Defense Spending

Washington is threatening consequences if NATO member states don't increase their defense spending. Germany is the primary focus of the demand. But the Defense Ministry in Berlin is already having trouble spending the money it currently has at its disposal.

By Konstantin von Hammerstein and Peter Müller

Message to Brussels: People on the Left in the U.S. and Europe who think that Germany is right on this issue, and that a government foolishly spending money on #ClimateChange but NOT honoring its pledge to its own allies regarding the amount of money it will spend on its own self-defense, are dreaming if they think Americans will support defending any nation that consciously chooses NOT to defend itself.
They won't. Period!

Both before and after I lived and worked in the Washington, D.C. area and was very much involved with then-current passing developments and perspectives from people involved with foreign policy and defense policy in DC, whether at the myriad Think Tanks and non-profits, Left and Right, or at the House Foreign Affairs Committee or the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I was an admirer of Anne Applebaum, @anneapplebaum, and a longtime reader of her outstanding foreign policy/defense columns in the Washington Post.

More times than I can count, Applebaum's column was the best thing in the entire newspaper that day, combining genuine insight, forthright candor and an original POV, relative to the stuffy/fussy and self-reverential nature of much of what passes for insight in 99% of the American Foreign Policy establishment, whose journals I subscribed to for years, with walls of past issues that lined my Arlington County garage in banker boxes.

For many years I was, in the abstract, Anne Applebaum's ideal reader: someone who not only devoured her Washington Post columns and shared them with friends around who were very involved in a direct way with foreign policy, but also someone who actually purchased multiple copies of her books with my own money as gifts for friends and colleagues, as opposed to people who bought them on a corporate account.
I even bought copies of the decidedly non-holiday-friendly books, Between East and West: Across the Borderlands of Europe and Gulag: a History.

(As many of you longtime readers of this blog know, I have a longtime interest in Eastern European history and politics, especially Poland. My maternal ancestors fled Prussian-controlled Silesia and arrived in Texas right before Christmas of 1854, after a three-month boat trip from Bremen, eventually setting in the beautiful Hill Country of Texas and becoming Bandera County Pioneers.)

So, it's with all of that history in mind that I tell you now that it's been VERY disappointing to me the past few years that despite lots of opportunities for her to use her very important and very visible perch at the Washington Post to push for more honest and resolute critical thinking and reporting about the issue of NATO members finally delivering on their promises to pay 2% of their respective GDP for their own defense, she's punted.
Specifically, she's been far too quiet and NOT been publicly critical about Germany's failure.
Not that Gemany is alone, because only 5 of the 18 NATO members hit their marks.

Even worse in my mind, if possible, Applebaum has held her tongue about Germany's incredibly feeble response to the rise of ISIS (ISIL, IS) which I have talked to many of the people reading this blog post about over the years, as well as tweeted about when German-friendly individuals and groups seemed to be trying to give them a pass nd make excuses for them.

Instead of Applebaum being a leader for actively confronting manageable issues that a clear majority of Americans are quite justified in wanting to see FINALLY resolved, she has continued to champion the POV of the Foreign Policy elites in the U.S. and Europe, who are owners of so many broken Conventional Wisdom crystal balls that have not worked properly in many years. 
As Brexit proved to a fare thee well, as I predicted months before last year's June vote in the UK.

She's exactly the sort of person who ought to be championing Trump on this issue because he happens to be right on the facts and right on the public's perceptions of it being an issue where supposed allies have failed to deliver.

Plus, Applebaum's too smart to think that Trump and his supporters will simply allow the issue to evaporate. Trust me, Trump supporters like me will tell him that if Germany does not change course in tangible ways in the near-future that Americans can see with their own eyes, he will need to do something publicly to show his displeasure in a way that will leave no room for misunderstanding.

Is that really what the folks at the German Embassy up on Reservoir Road NW, a place where I spent so much time in the late 1980's and the '90's, and the place that now continues to do such a consistently piss-poor job of public outreach to the U.S. public at large and Congress in particular, wants?
Because the truth is, that day where Trump is pushed into doing something is much closer than they think.
Every day Germany continues status quo brings it closer...

I continue to be surprised at the large number of usually well-informed people who do NOT know that Germany's response to ISIS has been to dispatch, after more than a year's worth of debate in the Bundestag, 100 UNARMED men in non-combat positions located far from the fighting. 
That's the response of Europe's largest and most economically powerful country?
To place one-hundred unarmed men far from where the fighting against ISIS is? 

For many well-informed Americans who care about U.S. foreign policy and defense issues, regardless of their party preference, Germany's efforts of late, esp. vs. ISIS, seem incredibly underwhelming and not cause for thinking that cooler heads in Berlin are prevailing.
Just the opposite. :-(

In its own way, this Le Nouvel Observateur article makes the point.

To which I replied with cool hard facts:

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