‘The United States Must Be the World's Policeman.’ Really?

The editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal had an op-ed piece that gave me pause, even coming from that newspaper. It was "The United States Must Be the World's Policeman' by one Anders Fogh Rasmussen. (Note the operative word 'must.')  

Rasmussen is no impartial observer on such matters. He is a former prime minister of Denmark and for five years Secretary General of NATO. He is part of the European elite. In his WSJ piece, this Dane goes through the usual litany of why the world needs shelter under the wing of the America eagle. Interestingly, he does this without even a mention of the cost to the U.S. for playing such a role. But let's allow that slight go for now.

Although he writes in global terms, Rasmussen real concern is for Europe which he believes needs the U.S. to defend it from Russia as the European Union countries are, as he puts it, too weak, divided, and leaderless to do it for themselves. 

But does this square with reality, that Russia is an ominous threat to Europe and that Europe cannot defend itself? Let's see.

The population of the European Union countries is 510 million while Russia's is but 143 million. The gross domestic product of the EU combined is around $18 trillion while Russia's is only $1.13 trillion, slightly above Mexico's GDP.

The elephant in the room which Rasmussen completely ignores is not why can't Europe defend itself but why Europe won't defend itself?

The short answer to that question is because Europe has grown accustomed to two things. First is the fact that since the end of WWII -- over 70 years ago -- America has carried the main burden for Europe's defense without serious complaint. This has caused a frightening degree of infantilism to take root in the minds of the European political class. Europe now believe that it is the natural order of things for Europe to do the 'thinking' and for the U.S. to do the 'fighting'. After all, in their minds, we're a bunch of cowboys anyway who like nothing better than to roll around in the mud and shoot guns. Yee-ha!

Second and more significantly, this multi-generational vacation from paying for its own defense has enabled Europe to build a vast welfare state. This has become so entrenched in the politics and culture of present day Europe that it would take nothing short of an act of God to diminish it.

The European welfare state is a costly enterprise that is already straining the budgets of nearly every country on the continent. If the added expense for an adequate defense were to be imposed on Europe, their welfare system would have to be drastically trimmed. It could even collapse. This might literally rip some European countries apart. It is thus far easier for Europe's leaders to use their sliver tongues to try and convince America to continue to soldier on -- all for our own benefit, of course.

Without a doubt, maintaining the status quo is in Europe’s benefit. But is it in ours?

With our own $20 trillion debt, why should America be going deeper into debt for a Europe that steadfastly refuses to defend itself? And why be put in a position where one day, an American president might have to say, as Slim Pickins did in the film Dr. Strangelove, "Well boys, I reckon this is it. Nuclear combat, toe-to-toe with the Ruskies."

And you better believe that if that horrible nuclear nightmare ever came to be, European leaders would be conniving in every which way possible for the missiles to sail over Europe as they go to and from America.

True, nuclear war with Russia is quite improbable. But a conventional one is not so much so, especially if NATO continues to push up against the Russian border. And here, who can reasonably expect soft Europe to carry its share of the burden for defending itself?

Before you discount this thought, consider the demographics of Europe. For decades now, the birth rates of European countries have been dismal. The accepted birth rate to maintain a population is 2.1 children per woman. Europe's birthrate is a mere 1.6. This means that many European families consist of one child for a set of parents and and two sets of grandparents. In such a situation, that sole child is more precious than children in a large, traditional family. That in turn makes European families extremely averse to risking their posterity on the battlefield. So here again in the case of conventional warfare, American men and women would be expected to do the bulk of the fighting and dying --- all for Europe.

This brings us to our presidential race. Without question, Hillary Clinton is the candidate of the status quo. This is why some hawkish Republicans are abandoning their party to support her. One can expect Mrs. Clinton to support NATO in a manner and degree that will delight Rasmussen and the rest of the European elite. She is their candidate.

Donald Trump is another matter with his 'Make America Great Again' theme.

Trump's critics exaggerate in saying that he is reckless and will destroy NATO. To see how Trump's campaign theme rankles the feathers of the European elite, Denmark’s Rasmussen has the chutzpah to say, "His [Trump's] slogan is out of touch with what is actually the role of the United States."  I don't know about you, but I find it highly insulting to have my country's role defined by a self-serving foreigner.

The complaints about Trump relative to NATO do not hold water. The Donald's aim is to introduce needed reforms into NATO, painful reforms that the political establishments both here and in Europe are loath to take.

The unvarnished truth is that the inordinate amount of support America gives to NATO is not so much to defend Europe from Putin as it to defend Europe's bloated cradle-to-grave welfare states. Enough is enough.

The editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal had an op-ed piece that gave me pause, even coming from that newspaper. It was "The United States Must Be the World's Policeman' by one Anders Fogh Rasmussen. (Note the operative word 'must.')  

Rasmussen is no impartial observer on such matters. He is a former prime minister of Denmark and for five years Secretary General of NATO. He is part of the European elite. In his WSJ piece, this Dane goes through the usual litany of why the world needs shelter under the wing of the America eagle. Interestingly, he does this without even a mention of the cost to the U.S. for playing such a role. But let's allow that slight go for now.

Although he writes in global terms, Rasmussen real concern is for Europe which he believes needs the U.S. to defend it from Russia as the European Union countries are, as he puts it, too weak, divided, and leaderless to do it for themselves. 

But does this square with reality, that Russia is an ominous threat to Europe and that Europe cannot defend itself? Let's see.

The population of the European Union countries is 510 million while Russia's is but 143 million. The gross domestic product of the EU combined is around $18 trillion while Russia's is only $1.13 trillion, slightly above Mexico's GDP.

The elephant in the room which Rasmussen completely ignores is not why can't Europe defend itself but why Europe won't defend itself?

The short answer to that question is because Europe has grown accustomed to two things. First is the fact that since the end of WWII -- over 70 years ago -- America has carried the main burden for Europe's defense without serious complaint. This has caused a frightening degree of infantilism to take root in the minds of the European political class. Europe now believe that it is the natural order of things for Europe to do the 'thinking' and for the U.S. to do the 'fighting'. After all, in their minds, we're a bunch of cowboys anyway who like nothing better than to roll around in the mud and shoot guns. Yee-ha!

Second and more significantly, this multi-generational vacation from paying for its own defense has enabled Europe to build a vast welfare state. This has become so entrenched in the politics and culture of present day Europe that it would take nothing short of an act of God to diminish it.

The European welfare state is a costly enterprise that is already straining the budgets of nearly every country on the continent. If the added expense for an adequate defense were to be imposed on Europe, their welfare system would have to be drastically trimmed. It could even collapse. This might literally rip some European countries apart. It is thus far easier for Europe's leaders to use their sliver tongues to try and convince America to continue to soldier on -- all for our own benefit, of course.

Without a doubt, maintaining the status quo is in Europe’s benefit. But is it in ours?

With our own $20 trillion debt, why should America be going deeper into debt for a Europe that steadfastly refuses to defend itself? And why be put in a position where one day, an American president might have to say, as Slim Pickins did in the film Dr. Strangelove, "Well boys, I reckon this is it. Nuclear combat, toe-to-toe with the Ruskies."

And you better believe that if that horrible nuclear nightmare ever came to be, European leaders would be conniving in every which way possible for the missiles to sail over Europe as they go to and from America.

True, nuclear war with Russia is quite improbable. But a conventional one is not so much so, especially if NATO continues to push up against the Russian border. And here, who can reasonably expect soft Europe to carry its share of the burden for defending itself?

Before you discount this thought, consider the demographics of Europe. For decades now, the birth rates of European countries have been dismal. The accepted birth rate to maintain a population is 2.1 children per woman. Europe's birthrate is a mere 1.6. This means that many European families consist of one child for a set of parents and and two sets of grandparents. In such a situation, that sole child is more precious than children in a large, traditional family. That in turn makes European families extremely averse to risking their posterity on the battlefield. So here again in the case of conventional warfare, American men and women would be expected to do the bulk of the fighting and dying --- all for Europe.

This brings us to our presidential race. Without question, Hillary Clinton is the candidate of the status quo. This is why some hawkish Republicans are abandoning their party to support her. One can expect Mrs. Clinton to support NATO in a manner and degree that will delight Rasmussen and the rest of the European elite. She is their candidate.

Donald Trump is another matter with his 'Make America Great Again' theme.

Trump's critics exaggerate in saying that he is reckless and will destroy NATO. To see how Trump's campaign theme rankles the feathers of the European elite, Denmark’s Rasmussen has the chutzpah to say, "His [Trump's] slogan is out of touch with what is actually the role of the United States."  I don't know about you, but I find it highly insulting to have my country's role defined by a self-serving foreigner.

The complaints about Trump relative to NATO do not hold water. The Donald's aim is to introduce needed reforms into NATO, painful reforms that the political establishments both here and in Europe are loath to take.

The unvarnished truth is that the inordinate amount of support America gives to NATO is not so much to defend Europe from Putin as it to defend Europe's bloated cradle-to-grave welfare states. Enough is enough.