During his political extravaganza, the White House’s Republican candidate, Donald Trump, sometimes happens to be right. This is not the first time he has spoken about NATO from the point of view of a corporate leader. In his New York interview yesterday, he did not rise above the level of a buttinsky, but he did manage to twist the knife.
One example that shocked many is his position regarding the present and future of NATO.
While NATO is not a corporation, the current 28 member states, along with soon-to-join Montenegro, have clear financial responsibilities.
Trump: “We have many NATO members that aren't paying their bills. (…) You can’t forget the bills. They have an obligation to make payments. Many NATO nations are not making payments, are not making what they’re supposed to make. That’s a big thing. You can’t say forget that.”
The two experienced journalists—David E. Sanger and Maggie Haberman—leave him no room for argument: “Can the members of NATO, including the new members in the Baltics, count on the United States to come to their military aid if they were attacked by Russia? And count on us fulfilling our obligations?” Trump doesn’t wait for the question to end: “Have they fulfilled their obligations to us? If they fulfill their obligations to us, the answer is yes.”
The buffoon is right. He’s not the only one talking about an equal division of expenditure. Several people have accurately made the same observations before him, including politicians and military experts on both sides of the Atlantic. Member states, upon joining the alliance and afterward, are taking on responsibilities every time military and political realities require them to do so – firstly, to defend their own territory and secondly, to finance their part of their defense capabilities before invoking Article 5. In Romania’s case, this is 60 percent, as the rest of the investment is made by the allies.
Since 2004, when Romania joined NATO, our country hasn’t done much. The criminal indifference of our politicians has disarmed Romania over the last 12 years. A few weeks ago, journalists from Der Spiegel published an internal NATO document showing that Romania didn’t comply with any of the military requirements (we are not the only ones, but this doesn’t provide much comfort).
In the face of the challenges that have risen from the geopolitical quake in the area, our only chance is with Article 5: “All for one.”
However, as was graphically stated by Gen. Constantin Degeratu, former chief of the military staff (1997-2000), “We must quickly forget this illusion of an impersonal NATO, which is a sort of 112* Call Center sending the police, the fire department and the ambulance whenever we need it (…) Article 5 works both ways, it’s not a blank check for a lack of responsibility.” The technical, political and tactical consensus imposed by Article 5 has yet to be built.
We can’t expect that by doing nothing, agreeing to invest barely two percent of our GDP in defense (of which 80 percent is staff expenditures), we will have someone willing to fight and sacrifice for us. Our hospitals would not even be able to patch up wounds.
As Degeratu says, “We have to count on ourselves first of all to defend Romania. Yes, the Americans will defend us too, as well as other allies, but only if we do it ourselves and if they’re convinced we can do the same for them (…) The way things are now, the Romanian Army would not be able to withstand unimaginable military aggression, generated by forces similar to those we see in Russia’s strategic military drills, because first of all it does not have the capacity to reject a massive air strike.”
The Supreme Council of National Defense of Romania isn’t scheduled to meet until early next week (the main point of discussion: the Romanian triumph in Warsaw). Either way, any enemy willing to act will have to wait until at least 2017.
And so, our politicians would be willing to send soldiers to a war in undergarments, just like in Marasesti in 1917.**
*Translator’s Note: 112 is an emergency number in Romania.
**Translator’s Note: The battle of Marasesti (Aug. 6-16, 1917) was the most important military operation of the Romanian Army during World War I.