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The Economist Leads Charge for European Rearmament

The partisans of NATO in Europe and elsewhere continue to be hysterical over Donald Trump’s remarks at a campaign event in South Carolina on Feb. 10, fretting that he has challenged the viability of NATO’s Article 5 commitments and so on. The frenzy over Trump’s comments is being used to stampede Europe into an even bigger military buildup—a policy which was firmly established way before Trump’s Feb. 10 remarks.

The Economist, not surprisingly, is leading the way. In a column posted yesterday, the City of London weekly rag worries about Russia’s alleged “hybrid warfare” and Article 5. “Vladimir Putin, Russia’s President, still appears to regard a direct attack on NATO territory as too risky,” it claims. “But if he becomes emboldened by gaining the upper hand in Ukraine, he might be tempted to test where NATO’s threshold for using force lies, for example by blockading the Baltic states, orchestrating a large cyber attack, or attacking the Suwalki Gap, the NATO corridor between Belarus and Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave. Were Mr. Trump to become President again, that temptation would be far stronger.”

After fretting that the American military might no longer be relied upon, The Economist concludes as follows: “In his first term, Mr. Trump was largely constrained by defense secretaries and national security advisers who were committed to NATO. If he won a second he would probably make appointments that would ensure he was no longer hemmed in. Even if he found he could not formally take America out of NATO, Mr. Trump could fatally erode its commitment to treaty obligations by pulling American forces out of Europe, failing to extend American nuclear deterrence to Europe and casting doubt on his commitment to order American troops to fight in Europe’s defense. Under such circumstances, Mr. Putin would have been granted his dearest wish—the shredding of any practical meaning from Article 5 as far as America was concerned.”

The Scotsman, which has been editorially supporting NATO strongly for a long time, demands that the U.K. rearm. “The reason is not because of a renewed threat from some despot but the risk that the U.S., the world’s strongest defender of democratic freedoms, will abandon the field if Donald Trump is re-elected President,” it said in an unsigned editorial. “Relying on an unreliable ally when faced with an enemy such as Putin would be a huge mistake. The U.K.’s Armed Forces are in a parlous state. That needs to be put right, and quickly.”

The English-language version of Spain’s El País quoted a number of European ministers and experts to similar effect.

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