Of Course NATO is Obsolete

By TAC Staff

This editorial was published in the March/April issue of The American Conservative.

Should the United States go to war with Russia to protect Montenegro, a nation of 5,332 square miles and some 620,000 people? Where is Montenegro, anyway?

You can answer the second question by consulting any map of the Balkans, where tiny Montenegro is wedged between Serbia, Bosnia, and Albania. You can answer the first question through a cursory consultation with the logic of national interest. The answer is no.

Yet the United States is bound by treaty to protect Montenegro militarily should Russia or any other nation violate its sovereignty. The fate of Montenegro has absolutely nothing to do with U.S. strategic interests. But the diminutive country resides in a region that has been of crucial cultural and geopolitical interest to Russia for centuries.

It’s the NATO treaty, of course, that requires U.S. protection of Montenegro. Donald Trump kicked up a storm as a presidential campaigner by declaring NATO “obsolete.” After Hillary Clinton retorted that it was “the strongest military alliance in the history of the world,” Trump explained he merely wanted the other nations to pay their fair share in alliance costs and also wanted NATO to do more to fight terrorism.

Later Trump allowed as how he didn’t really think the alliance was obsolete after all. He only said that, he explained, because he didn’t know much about it. But now, he said, he knew a lot more—enough to support the admission of Montenegro into NATO last year.

Trump was smarter when he was ignorant. Of course NATO is obsolete. It was founded as a Cold War defensive alliance to thwart any Western invasion by the Soviet Union, which had positioned some 1.3 million Warsaw Pact troops for such an incursion. NATO was indeed one of the greatest military alliances in world history. With America as its leader, it won the Cold War.

But that was 30 years ago. The Soviet Union is long gone, along with those menacing troops and the strategic threat they posed. The rationale for NATO has evaporated.

And yet it remains. Not only that, but it long since has abandoned its defensive posture and embraced an offensive temperament, moving inexorably eastward in a manifest effort to encircle Russia and remove its influence from territories that had been within its sphere of interest for centuries. Instead of an alliance to prevent war, NATO has become an institution generating tensions and hostilities where none need exist.

William S. Smith of the Catholic University of America noted recent meetings pulled together by NATO’s military committee chairman, a Czech army general named Petr Pavel. His sessions with his counterparts from Ukraine and Georgia, crowed Pavel, were “dedicated to Projecting Stability.” Given that those two nations are crucial to Russia’s sense of national security (and have been for centuries), wrote Smith, stability seems the least likely outcome of those meetings.

Now we have tensions rising in the Mideast between the United States and Turkey, which have competing interests in Syria. Turkey is …read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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The U.S. Must Stop Enabling Saudi War Crimes in Yemen

By Daniel Larison

Reuters reports on a typical Saudi-led coalition attack in Yemen:

Medics and a Reuters photographer who saw the wreckage in Saada said an initial air strike destroyed a house in the outlying Sohar district of the city, the main stronghold of the Houthis who control much of northern Yemen.

The medics said two further air strikes hit paramedics who were trying to lift the victims from the rubble.

Like many other coalition attacks, this one targeted civilians, and like so many others it employed the sickening “double tap” tactic to kill the people who came to help the civilians killed and injured in the initial blast. It is a gross violation of international law to target civilians, and it is likewise outrageous and illegal to attack medical personnel. The Saudi-led coalition piles war crimes on top of war crimes. The coalition has illegally treated all of Saada as a military target for almost three years, and coalition forces have been bombing indiscriminately and targeting civilians on purpose there ever since. Providing weapons to these governments does not reduce the number of civilian casualties, as supporters of our indefensible policy would claim, but rather guarantees that there will be many more. This is the bombing campaign that U.S. arms and refueling support, and it is a campaign that the Saudis and their allies would be hard-pressed to continue without U.S. and other Western assistance. It is imperative that Congress vote to end U.S. support for this war.

There will soon be a chance for members of Congress to do just that. Sens. Murphy, Sanders, Lee, and Paul are co-sponsoring a resolution to end U.S. involvement:

A bipartisan effort by four senators is looking to end the US military’s involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen, with the introduction of the first ever War Powers Act vote to come out of the Senate.

Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Chris Murphy (D-CT) are forwarding the bill, which notes that Congress has never authorized the use of military force in Yemen. This should allow Congress to oblige the administration to end US involvement in the war.

I commend the senators for their continued leadership in opposing U.S. support for the war on Yemen, and I hope that their colleagues seize the opportunity to put an end to an indefensible policy.

…read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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Michael Goodwin: Florida school shooting is the result of law enforcement failing us

By Michael Goodwin It is said that in war, truth is the first casualty. Something similar happens on our political battlegrounds as well, where truth, if it survives, is usually a heavy underdog. …read more

Via:: Fox Opines

      

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Manufacturing Trans Reality

By Rod Dreher

Yesterday, The New York Times op-ed page published what is, for the Times, an evergreen column:

Here’s a link to the column, by the transgendered Jennifer Finney Boylan. Excerpt:

Meanwhile, on Feb. 20, Ryan T. Anderson, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, released a book that suggests that transgender people are crazy, and that what we deserve at every turn is scorn, contempt and belittlement. The book (with a particularly insulting title that I’m not going to put in print here) is abundant in junk science; its most frequently quoted source is one Dr. Paul McHugh, the right-wing doctor who succeeded in shutting down Johns Hopkins’s gender-research clinic almost 40 years ago.

Anderson was rightly offended by this slanderous mischaracterization (a “reckless hit piece,” he called it), writing in part:

Anti-trans bigotry exists. It’s wrong, and we should all condemn it. I condemn it in my new book “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment.”

But we lose the ability to effectively call out bigotry when all disagreement is condemned as bigoted—and when lies are told in the process.

That’s what happened earlier this week in a New York Times op-ed. Jennifer Finney Boylan, a contributing opinion writer for the Times, and a professor of English at Barnard College of Columbia University, told several bald-faced lies about my work. I’m surprised her editors published it.

For the record, Boylan never contacted me regarding my research or my book. Nor did the Times contact me to verify any of the claims made about me in her column.

Boylan claims I wrote “a book that suggests that transgender people are crazy, and that what we [people who identify as transgender] deserve at every turn is scorn, contempt, and belittlement.”

Good luck finding a single line from my book to back up either claim. I wrote nothing of the sort. On the contrary, at several points in the book I admonish my fellow social conservatives not to treat people who identify as transgender with “scorn, contempt and belittlement.”

Indeed, the introduction to the book notes that:

Chapter 3 presents the stories of several people who found that transitioning didn’t bring the peace and wholeness they sought, but only new problems. The stories of detransitioners complicate the sunny picture frequently presented in the media. Many of these people recall a feeling of being pushed into transitioning, as if there were no other options, and they wish that medical professionals had made an effort to help them understand the deeper psychological issues that alienated them from their own bodies. Many regret the permanent damage done to their bodies, and some who transitioned as teenagers believe they were not mature enough to make such consequential decisions. Some feel that their dysphoria resulted from social hostility to people who don’t conform to gender norms or who have same-sex attractions.

The very next sentence reads: “In this light, social conservatives (including myself) should take care to be respectful and compassionate toward people we may disagree with.”

I repeat the point in Chapter …read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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Stop discriminating against military veterans with service dogs

By Robin Ganzert No one asked them to be patriots. No one asked them to enlist in the War on Terror. No one asked them to sacrifice their bodies, their health and sometimes even their lives to keep us safe. …read more

Via:: Fox Opines

      

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Congress Finally Dials Down Its Defense Slush Fund—But the Chicanery Isn’t Over

By Ross Marchand

The Pentagon is a massive black hole of dubious spending, and its annual final budget never tells the entire story. Case in point: the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) fund is just one of the ways the military spends our money above and beyond their annual outlays.

Supposedly, the OCO will be reduced significantly over the course of the next two years. But before you think the government is reining in spending, think again.

In addition to the FY 2019 Department of Defense (DoD) budget of $617 billion, lawmakers agreed on February 9 to devote $69 billion to the OCO, which on the books is supposed to go to the fight against ISIS and the war in Afghanistan, but watchdogs know has become a yearly “slush fund” to pay for non-war related items, avoiding the caps placed on the Pentagon during sequestration.

As a part of its long-term budget plan, the Trump administration is proposing to shift around 70 percent of OCO expenses back into the base budget, whittling down the fund from $69 billion to $20 billion by 2020. This will increase transparency, if it is all done above-board. The risk, of course, is that the military will use it as a sort of shell game, finding a way to label temporary war expenditures as “enduring costs” and sending them to the regular budget where they will likely grow and stick around forever. Such an ostensibly helpful change would bilk taxpayers for billions while making America weaker.

The OCO budget has had little oversight since its post-9/11 debut, allowing appropriators and defense hawks to sneak in non-war funding. Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments fellow Todd Harrison found, for instance, that for FY 2014, “the increase in Army and Air Force O&M costs could mean that the Services are categorizing roughly $20 billion of peacetime training activities as pre-deployment training in the OCO request.”

These funding items continually see increases regardless of America’s war footing. In 2017, the Government Accountability Office found that “the amount of OCO appropriations DoD considers as non-war increased from about four percent in fiscal year 2010 to 12 percent in fiscal year 2015,” as outdated guidelines from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) were effectively ignored. OCO items such as the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI, formerly “European Reassurance Initiative”) are unrelated to any specific operation, and face little pressure to make future projections of any kind.

This fiscal dysfunction has led some to demand that the government rein in the OCO. Unaccountable programs like the EDI would need to submit future estimates of costs, including assumptions about cost-sharing between America and Eastern European host nations. But bringing those line items out of the shadows also means setting the stage for normalcy and permanency. By their nature, overseas operations are intended to be temporary responses to defined threats beyond U.S. borders, and incorporating them into the routine budgeting process creates a troubling new normal.

The U.S., for instance, pledged …read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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The Oscars ignore great performances by political actors. That’s why there’s the ‘Stosscars’

By John Stossel Sunday, Hollywood sycophants give out Oscars. But Politicians deceive and manipulate people just as much as actors do. Some of their performances deserve recognition. …read more

Via:: Stossel

      

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The Oscars ignore great performances by political actors. That’s why there’s the ‘Stosscars’

By John Stossel Sunday, Hollywood sycophants give out Oscars. But Politicians deceive and manipulate people just as much as actors do. Some of their performances deserve recognition. …read more

Via:: Fox Opines

      

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Journalists target Second Amendment and NRA, and other examples of outrageous media bias

By Dan Gainor The Parkland, Florida high school shooting that left 17 people dead is a textbook example of how supposedly neutral journalists promote a left-wing agenda – in this case, by showing overwhelming support for gun control. …read more

Via:: Fox Opines

      

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