Trump haters love to say that Donald J. Trump is destroying America’s alliances and turning friends into enemies. As 2019 winds down, this looks like another lazy, flimsy charge against the president of the United States.
Consider how the president has handled these foreign relationships:
NATO: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is America’s most important alliance. Through NATO, the United States contained Soviet hegemony in Europe and allowed America’s friends to recover from World War II and enjoy peace, prosperity, and democratic elections. The Berlin Wall collapsed in 1989, and the USSR unraveled soon thereafter.
NATO is now a bulwark against non-communist Russian mischief under international troublemaker Vladimir Putin.
President Trump was in London celebrating NATO’s 70th anniversary earlier this month. In a sudden burst of anti-American un-patriotism, House Democrats decided that December 4 would be the perfect time to distract and embarrass the commander-in-chief. They staged an impeachment hearing precisely as he huddled with his NATO counterparts.
Regardless, NATO is reinvigorated, thanks to what President Trump’s critics call his abuse of U.S. allies. The correct term is tough love — the finest love of all.
“For many years, Allies kept cutting billions from their defense budgets. Now, they are adding billions,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told journalists on November 29, just before NATO’s summit. “The real increase for 2019 is 4.6 percent. By the end of next year, European Allies and Canada will have invested well over 100 billion US dollars more since 2016. In fact, this figure now stands at 130 billion.”
Stoltenberg added: “All Allies are increasing defense spending. More Allies are meeting the guideline of spending 2 percent of GDP on defense. This year, nine Allies will meet the guideline, up from just three Allies a few years ago.”
In short, Stoltenberg said, “This is unprecedented progress, and it is making NATO stronger.”
Stoltenberg gave credit where credit is due for these vital reforms.
“President Trump is right about the importance of European Allies and Canada spending more,” Stoltenberg said. “And he has conveyed that message very clearly to Allies several times.” In January, Stoltenberg told Fox News Sunday: “President Donald Trump is having an impact.”
President Trump’s insistence that NATO members abide by their own promises to invest more in their own defense has fortified this anti-Russian alliance. This strongly suggests that Trump is either a highly ineffective Kremlin puppet or, more likely, he is no Russian agent whatsoever.
Germany: President Trump is correct to prod Chancellor Angela Merkel to boost her country’s financial support for NATO. He also is wise to encourage her not to rely on Russian natural gas, which gives Moscow the ability literally to freeze Germans in the dead of winter, if they angered the Kremlin. Rather than give Putin such enormous leverage over Europe’s largest economy, Trump has encouraged Berlin to purchase U.S. liquified natural gas. Great for America. Great for Germany. Bad for Russia.
France: Presidents Trump and Emanuel Macron differ on the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris pact on so-called “global warming” — from both of which Trump mercifully extracted the U.S. Macron also refuses either to repatriate or liquidate French members of ISIS currently held captive by highly preoccupied Kurdish forces in Syria. Managing such disagreements on major matters is called diplomacy, not “rejecting America’s allies.”
United Kingdom: President Trump and Prime Minister Boris Johnson seem like older and younger brothers. It is amazing how much they look and dress alike. Less superficially, they are both conservatives who are skeptical of big-government solutions and hostile to bossy, know-it-all, busy-body international organizations. Once Johnson and the Tories get Brexit done, he and Trump hope to negotiate an Anglo-American trade agreement, which free-marketeers on both sides of the Atlantic already have drafted. Trump and Johnson look poised to get along at least as swimmingly as Reagan and Thatcher.
Canada and Mexico: President Trump’s trade team negotiated the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement to replace NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. USMCA passed the House on Thursday 385-41. It is expected to pass the Senate after the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body contends with impeachment.
Japan: President Trump appears to have a warm relationship with President Shinzo Abe. The two concluded a new trade deal in October.
South Korea: The U.S. and South Korea also secured a free-trade treaty. Presidents Trump and Moon Jae-in also have collaborated on their respective efforts to engage North Korea and, one hopes, denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. While that remains a work in progress, President Trump’s diplomacy with Pyongyang’s Kim Jong-un has taken this matter further than any American president since Eisenhower.
South America: Nations in that region are working closely with the Trump Administration to isolate Venezuela, Earth’s latest proving ground for the triumph of socialism.
Israel: The US/Israeli relationship has not been this good since Harry Truman recognized the Jewish state in 1948. Among other policy changes, President Trump moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, recognized the Golan Heights as part of Israel, and — just days ago — announced potential legal consequences for universities that foment anti-Semitism and/or back the anti-Israel Boycott, Divest, and Sanction movement. Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have had a cordial personal friendship for years. In contrast, Obama used $350,000 in U.S. taxpayer’s funds, and several of his political operatives, to try to defeat Netanyahu, in a naked act of Democrat election interference.
Saudi Arabia: Under President Trump, America has reinforced its relationship with the often-brutal Middle Eastern kingdom as a bulwark against Iran, arguably Earth’s most dangerous nation. If the ayatollahs build an atomic bomb, Obama’s softer-than-Kleenex “deal” notwithstanding, Iran will become Earth’s most dangerous nation. Working with the odious Saudis to stop this is an unfortunate price America must pay. Odious trumps atomically genocidal.
Kurdistan: In what is arguably President Trump’s most puzzling decision, and possibly his biggest mistake, he withdrew U.S. troops from northern Syria just before Turkish forces rolled in across the border, with the Kurds in their crosshairs. While Trump correctly objects to never-ending wars in the Middle East, bailing on the Kurds left them wide open to their mortal enemies, the Turks. Even worse, this put the fear of Allah into the Kurds, who hold captive thousands of ISIS fighters. Some of these Islamic killers apparently escaped, which is utterly maddening. Too bad President Trump didn’t use diplomacy to arrange for NATO troops to relieve American GIs, so the buffer between the Kurds and the Turks could survive, and the ISIS killers could remain at gunpoint, ideally with their mass execution soon to follow.
Once again, President Trump’s critics loudly level an accusation against him that offers plenty of volume upon delivery and little substance upon inspection.
Deroy Murdock is a New York-based Fox News contributor, a contributing editor with National Review Online, and an emeritus media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.