[Vision2020] Europeans Paying More than their Fair Share

Nicholas Gier ngier006 at gmail.com
Fri Jun 9 10:44:22 PDT 2017

Good Morning Visionaries:

For those who do not get the Daily News, my column from yesterday is
appended below.  The long version will appear in the Idaho State Journal on
Sunday.  It is attached.

It is my understanding that Theresa May has invited this lout for a state
visit.  I do hope that he is now disinvited.

*Europeans Pay More Than Their Fair Share*

            One would expect that in anticipation of meeting with the heads
of NATO’s 29 nations, our so-called president would at least learn some
basic facts about this nearly 70-year-old alliance.

Instead, an ignorant and boorish Trump stunned these leaders with a lie
that most NATO countries are financial dead beats.  He claimed that “many
of these nations owe massive amounts of money from past years.” With regard
to NATO’s actual finances, these countries don’t owe anything.

In 2006, under pressure from the U. S., NATO countries promised that they
would increase their defense budgets to 2 percent of Gross Domestic Product
(GDP). After the end of the Cold War in 1989, many of them had cashed in
the peace dividend and diverted funds to social programs.

The Great Recession of 2008—largely caused by Anglo-American bankers,
politicians, and economists—caused havoc with budgets around the world, and
by 2016 only five NATO nations had met the 2 percent goal. Contrary to
Trump’s claim, it is not U. S. taxpayers who will pay for these extra
weapons; rather, it is the citizens of 24 NATO nations themselves.

After the United Nations outlawed “wars of aggression,” the U. S. War
Department was renamed the Defense Department in 1947. Presumably, the idea
was that the soft power of diplomacy and development aid would replace the
hard power of armed intervention.

            The U. S. spends a paltry .17 percent of its GDP on foreign
aid, and the Trump administration has plans to reduce that amount by
gutting the State Department’s budget. A specific target may be the Officer
of Religion and Global Affairs. There are unfilled positions in programs
tasked with curbing anti-Semitism and preventing radicalization in the
Muslim world.

The 28-member European Union budgets on average .47 percent of GDP to
foreign aid.  Sweden, which is in the EU but not in NATO, allocates 1.4
percent, and Norway is next highest at 1.05 percent.

Sweden has also taken in a record number of refugees. With a population of
9.8 million, the compassionate Swedes accepted 150,273 asylum seekers from
May 2015 to April 2016.  This number is 1.5 percent of Sweden’s population.

            During that same period the U. S. accepted 150,875 asylum
seekers, and we would have to accept 4.7 million to match the Swedes. From
the beginning of the Iraq War in 2003 to 2014, we relocated only 115,000
Iraqi refugees, while Sweden admitted 78,000, 40 percent Assyrian

Under Saddam Hussein Christians were safe and respected (his foreign
minister was a Christian), but now their numbers have dropped from 1.4
million in 2003 to 275,000.

George W’s invasion incited a civil war between Sunnis and Shia, and both
sides were radicalized as a result. Should Sweden send Bush, Cheney, et al.
a bill for giving sanctuary to these good folks?

In absolute numbers Germany has accepted the most refugees: 890,000 in 2015
alone (1 percent of its population). The total number of Syrian refugees in
Germany at the end of 2016 was 567,000.  As with all German refugees, these
Syrians commit crimes at same rate as citizens, and only nine have been
arrested for suspected terrorist activities.

In his speech at NATO headquarters Trump refused to reaffirm our nation’s
commitment to Article 5 of the NATO treaty. This provision requires NATO to
come to the aid of any member country that has been attacked. Presumably,
Trump will not make this commitment until all member nations “pay up.”

This is one of the most brazen and irresponsible examples of Trump’s
“America First” policy. This refusal gives comfort to Vladimir Putin, who
would very much like a weaker NATO, and it instills fear in those living in
the small NATO countries of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania, right on
Russia’s door step.

An editorial in the Kremlin-supported “RT” news outlet says it all: “In
Europe, Donald Trump is Making Russia Great Again.”

Nick Gier taught philosophy at the University of Idaho for 31 years. He can
be reached at ngier006 at gmail.com.

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they
shall never sit in.

-Greek proverb

“Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity.
Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance
from another. This immaturity is self- imposed when its cause lies not in
lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without
guidance from another. Sapere Aude! ‘Have courage to use your own
understand-ing!—that is the motto of enlightenment.

--Immanuel Kant
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