Confronting North Korea by changing the dynamics. By James A. Lyons, Admiral USN (ret).

 

Confronting North Korea by changing the dynamics.

Withdrawing U.S. military dependents from the South would signal seriousness

By James A. Lyons, Admiral USN (ret).

 

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

On July 4, North Korea successfully test-fired the equivalent of an intercontinental ballistic missile with the potential to hit not only our regional allies but Alaska as well. Leading up to the latest test, President Trump, regrettably, has followed the path of the five previous administrations, believing that cozying up to China’s communist government would be helpful in reining in North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. By now, everyone should understand that will never happen. Let’s be clear: There would be no North Korean nuclear weapons program if it were not for China and Russia. Further, North Korea is the off-site laboratory and test site for Iran’s nuclear program.

Relying on China to rein in North Korea’s nuclear program has not only been a dismal failure, but a serious strategic mistake. Mr. Trump needs to stop listening to the Obama holdovers and other “undercover agents” for strategic advice. We should certainly understand by now that China’s strategic objectives include a nuclear-armed North Koreaas a way to lessen U.S. influence not only in South Korea but, ultimately, throughout the Western Pacific. Never forget — China is seeking total hegemony throughout the first island chain, which includes Taiwan and, eventually, the second island chain, which includes Guam, our main support base.

With those clear objectives, China is not about to hand us a victory on the Korean Peninsula without strong actions on our part. The fact that North Korea’s latest missile test was fired from a 16-wheel, road-mobile, transporter-erector-launcher supplied by China should have been particularly galling to Mr. Trump. According to Japanese reports, there are eight China-supplied launchers in North Korea. To rub salt in the wound, both China and Russia issued a joint statement on the day of the North Korean test, proposing to resolve the problem by having North Korea freeze its nuclear and ballistic missile testing (no dismantlement), provided the United States abandons large-scale joint exercises with South Korea.

 

There is simply no equivalence here. These defensive exercises have been a key component of maintaining peace and stability for the past 50 years. Why would we change? Ending these exercises has been a long-term China objective, which Beijing knows is a non-starter. Further, the fact that both China and Russia were able to issue a joint statement on the day of the test indicates that they most likely had advance notification.

On July 6, left-wing, newly elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in, following up on his campaign rhetoric, proposed more dialogue with North Korea and said that he is prepared to meet Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader. He also extended an olive branch by calling for more economic cooperation and a resumption of family reunions. Regrettably, Mr. Moon doesn’t get it: You don’t reward a totalitarian regime for bad behavior. As we have seen many times, such conciliatory gestures are viewed only as a sign of weakness.

According to a July 7 Wall Street Journal article, the Trump administration plans to give diplomacy and economic sanctions more time to resolve the crisis with North Korea. With China, Russia and Iran ignoring the economic sanctions, though, there will be no change in North Korea’s violation of U.N. sanctions. When speaking in Warsaw with Polish President Andrzej Duda, however, Mr. Trump stated that he was considering “some pretty severe things,” which certainly could imply military action. Previously, the president has stated that since China has failed to help solve the problem, we will have to do it ourselves.

As we have seen over the years, successful diplomacy must have strong, recognized military options. It was “peace through strength” that was key to winning the Cold War against the Soviet Union. Under the current circumstances, without a dramatic change in the dynamics controlling the crisis with North Korea, more diplomatic discussions and potential talks with North Korea like the previous Six Party Talks, will also fail.

To put substance into our past declarations that “all options are being considered,” a dramatic, dynamic change must be introduced into the Korean equation. Accordingly, it is proposed that we plan to withdraw all U.S. military dependents from South Korea. This will not only remove a “hostage force” from the South Korean environment, but would also upset both China and North Korea’s calculations on what further actions are we planning to take. Certainly, it would provide us the freedom to plan a range of military options.

During the time it would take to remove all U.S. military dependents from South Korea, we should begin to massively reinforce our forces in the Western Pacific. This should include two or three attack carrier strike groups as well as four Air Force bomber squadrons, and up to 24 fighter squadrons with accompanying support forces. We should also plan to reintroduce tactical nuclear weapons into South Korea as well as on our forward-deployed submarines. A crash program to provide cruise-missile arsenal ships should also be part of the buildup.

 

Coordination with our allies will need to be factored into our overall planning. In that sense, an expanded military equipment package for Taiwan should also be planned. The unambiguous message that we would be sending is that we will not accept a nuclear-armed North Korea. It must dismantle its nuclear program or be destroyed.

  • James A. Lyons, U.S. Navy retired admiral, was commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.

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Trump’s Middle East doctrine by Admiral James A. Lyons, USN (ret.)

 

 

 

Trump’s Middle East doctrine

A key objective is the isolation of Iran

by Admiral James A. Lyons, USN (ret.)

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

President Trump’s historic visit last month to Saudi Arabia, where he met with the heads of more than 50 mostly Sunni heads of state, dramatically marked the end of eight years of Barack Obama’s appeasement of Iran. It signaled to all the Muslim leaders that the United States as the “strong horse” is back. There was no doubt in any of the Muslim leaders’ minds that Mr. Trump is a man of action and a leader who will keep his word.

Mr. Trump’s goal of establishing a coalition of nations that share the objective of defeating terrorist groups and providing for a stable and hopeful future made it clear that the assembled nations cannot be indifferent to the presence of evil. That evil is represented not only by the Islamic State (ISIS), al Qaeda et al., but also by Iran, the recognized world leader of state-sponsored terrorism. In that sense, one of the key objectives of the summit was to isolate Iran, a goal embraced by the coalition, as well as their shared disdain for the Obama administration’s atrocious failed nuclear agreement with Iran.

Mr. Trump also made it clear that this coalition of nations must adopt a policy of “sovereign responsibility,” which means that they cannot wait for American power to defeat the enemy for them. They must be directly involved, with our assistance.

Nonetheless, the Trump doctrine must be driven by our core vital interests, which are:

  • Eliminating ISIS as a functioning entity.
  • Preventing Iran from achieving a nuclear weapon capability.
  • Preventing Iranian hegemony throughout the Middle East.
  • Removing the Iranian theocracy from power.
  • Re-establishing and strengthening our relations with our traditional allies.
  • Ensuring the survival of Israel.
  • Establishing a sovereign Kurdistan.
  • Maintaining freedom of navigation throughout the Persian Gulf and Red Sea, including strategic choke points, e.g., the Suez Canal, the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and the Strait of Hormuz.

The establishment of a Global Terrorism Center for Combating Extremism in Riyadh was a manifestation of the shared objective of defeating terrorist groups and isolating Iran, but its effectiveness will depend on results. The same can be said for the establishment of the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center, co-chaired by the United States and Saudi Arabia, as well as the United States-United Arab Emirates Center to Counter the Online Spread of Hate. It was clear to all the attendees that a peaceful, stable future can only be achieved by defeating the ideology that drives terrorism. Carrying this out will require some very fundamental and painful changes. For example, mosques and imams that preach hate and urge all Muslims to conduct violent jihad should be closed and the imams removed.

Concrete steps must be taken to stop funds from going to radical mosques and front groups that promote terrorism. Targeting funds being sent to various terrorists groups, e.g., ISIS and al Qaeda, must receive immediate priority. The source of these funds, be it from individuals or states like Qatar, must be identified and interdicted.

Qatar has been a particular problem because of its support of the Muslim Brotherhood and its cozy relationship with Iran. This came to a head on June 5, when Saudi Arabia broke diplomatic and some commercial relations with Qatar over its terrorist financing and its links to the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, Hamas and the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Qatar’s relationship with Iran was a decisive factor in causing the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain to quickly join with Saudi Arabia in breaking relations. Most land, sea and air routes to Qatar have been closed. Qatar is an isthmus whose only land route is through Saudi Arabia by which it receives 40 percent of its food. This is a major problem for Qatar, despite Turkey’s offer of food and water delivered by sea.

Another issue that must be addressed is the U.S. Central Command’s forward air base in Qatar, which has been an essential element of our air campaign in the region. As of today, there has been no impact on U.S. air operations, but contingency plans should be made ready for an alternative air base if regional relationships further deteriorate.

An underlying element of the Trump doctrine that cannot be overstated is recognition that 65 percent of the population of the Middle East is under the age of 30, and that those youths must be provided with opportunities for a satisfying life as an attractive option to the lure of terrorist groups. While this is a worthy objective, Muslims don’t commit to jihad because they don’t have jobs. They commit to jihad because they are devout Muslims, many with university degrees. The only way they can be dissuaded from jihad is to see a crushing defeat of jihadis on the battlefield. Once they understand they cannot win, they are obligated by their own doctrine to back off.

Saudi Prince Mohammad bin Salman is taking the lead for economic and cultural reform in Saudi Arabia, and other members of the coalition should follow. Nevertheless, the indispensable principle for achieving the objectives of the Riyadh summit is the isolation of Iran, the prime mover of instability throughout the region. As a start, sanctions on the mullahs’ ballistic missile programs must be imposed. Further, until the unsigned nuclear weapons deal with Iran is formally canceled, real inspections by the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency must be conducted on all the sites in their nuclear weapon infrastructure.

Finally, an aggressive plan must be developed with the objective of removing the regime of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei from power. That is the first principle of any plan to return stability and peace to the Middle East.

  • James A. Lyons, a retired U.S. Navy admiral, was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.

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Nuclear Deal, Iran’s Missiles, & U.S. Sanctions by Raymond Tanter

 

 

 

Raymond Tanter

20 JUNE 2017,

Nuclear Deal, Iran’s Missiles, & U.S. Sanctions

Breaking News

On June 18, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) launched several midrange missiles from western Iran across Iraq and hit sources in Syria of Islamic State (ISIS) attacks on Tehran on June 7. In the context of these strikes, consider revelations about Iran’s missile sites on June 20 by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) office in the United States (The People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran, PMOI aka Mujahedeen-e-Khalq MEK is the largest unit in the NCRI.)

Nuclear negotiations between Iran and the major powers began during 2013 and culminated in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2015. Thereafter, the IRGC intensified its activities to develop and expand Tehran’s missile program based on orders of the regime’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, per the NCRI revelations on June 20.

Evidence:

The NCRI verified locations of over three dozen centers involved in the production, testing, and launching of missiles by the IRGC. A dozen of these sites were exposed for the first time. The NCRI identified 42 IRGC missile centers involved in production, testing, storage, launch, and command. There are 15 that are part of Tehran’s missile manufacturing network.

The centers for building and testing missiles are in Iran’s central regions. Sites for medium-range ballistic missile launches are mostly in Iran’s western mountain regions, and central regions. In the southern provinces, missile launch centers are aimed at the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman. The location of these centers across Iran suggests IRGC missile objectives are oriented toward Iran’s western and southern borders.

The Nuclear Deal and U.S. Sanctions

The nuclear accord imposes few restrictions on Iran regarding ballistic missiles and does not prohibit new sanctions from being levied on Iran. UNSCR 2231, which gave international legal authority to the nuclear deal, “called upon (Iran) not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons,” but Tehran vowed to ignore the Resolution. UNSCR 2231 does not prohibit new sanctions from being imposed on Iran, providing an occasion for President Trump to review the nuclear deal. The President told Secretary Tillerson on Apr. 19 to announce Iran is in compliance with the accord but also said the National Security Council (NSC) had 90 days to finish the review, which is coming up in July.

Meanwhile, on June 15, The Senate voted 98-2 in favor of a bill to impose new U.S. sanctions to target Iran’s ballistic missile program, its support for terrorism, and human rights violations.

The Way Forward

First, one outcome of the NSC review should be that the nuclear deal be modified to include ballistic missile research, development, and testing by Tehran. Trump should order the NSC to consider the testimony during passage of the June sanctions bill to justify pressing Iran to accept new restraints on its missiles. And the President should insist the NSC and State include evidence proffered by the NCRI on June 20 to justify revisions of the accord.

Second, the review should mention the NCRI as having provided valid evidence on prior violations by the Iranian regime regarding nuclear sites, testing of trigger mechanisms for nuclear weapons, and the most recent revelations on June 20 concerning ballistic missiles. The NCRI office on Pennsylvania Ave is a stone’s throw from the White House. If its delegation met with the President in the Oval Office and briefed his NSC staff in the Situation Room, it would indicate the tide is turning even further against Tehran. Such sessions with the main opposition to Tehran would place pressure on Iran to renegotiate the nuclear deal.

Third, if President Trump tweets about the Iran Freedom Rally on July 1 in Paris, he will see policies espoused there don’t require compromising on his policy of putting “America first.”

A bipartisan group of present and former legislators have attended or plan to attend the rally. Even more noteworthy, on Apr. 14, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.), visited Albania to meet with NCRI officials, including its president-elect, Maryam Rajavi.

There is support across the aisle in Congress to back the NCRI. It has received about three decades of bipartisan congressional support. See H.Con.Res.159– introduced in Nov. 2016 by Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and ranking member Elliot Engel (D-N.Y.), as well as Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.).

Although it is standard operating procedure for American Embassy officials to accompany congressional delegations (CODELS), it is remarkable that the Deputy Chief of the U.S. Mission and many of our Embassy staff in Tirana were in the presence of NCRI officials. It is hard to conceive of that situation occurring in the Obama-Kerry era!

Article

Raymond Tanter :

Prof. Raymond Tanter (@AmericanCHR) served as a senior member on the Middle East Desk of the National Security Council staff in the Reagan-Bush administration, Personal Representative of the Secretary of Defense to international security and arms control talks in Europe, and is now Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan. Tanter is on the comprehensive list of conservative writers and columnists who appear in The Wall Street Journal, Townhall.com, National Review, The Weekly Standard, Human Events, The American Spectator, and now in Newsmax.

 

 

 

TWO ALLEGED HEZBOLLAH JIHADISTS ARRESTED IN U.S. by Michael Cutler

Editor’s Note: From our great friend and regular SUA contributor, Michael Cutler, retired Senior Special Agent of the former INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) whose career spanned some 30 years. He has testified before well over a dozen congressional hearings.

He hosts “The Michael Cutler Hour” on USA Talk Radio Fridays at 7 p.m. (EST) and is frequently interviewed by broadcast media on various aspects of immigration issues, especially the nexus to national security.

 

TWO ALLEGED HEZBOLLAH JIHADISTS ARRESTED IN U.S.

Immigration (naturalization) was the key to their terrorist activities.

June 19, 2017

By Michael Cutler

 

On June 8, 2017  the Department of Justice issued a press release, Two Men Arrested for Terrorist Activities on Behalf of Hizballah’s Islamic Jihad Organization.

As you will see, terrorists understand that naturalization enables them to act as “Sleepers” and hide in plain sight in the United States and facilitate their movement around the world where they threaten our allies and other countries.

While it is reassuring that these two terror suspects have been taken into custody, charged with an extensive list of terror-related crimes, the criminal complaints, filed in conjunction with this case note the extremely disturbing fact that these defendants as well as others, both known and unknown, committed overt acts in support of Hezbollah that are enumerated in the complaints concerning Samer el Debek, a/k/a Samer Eldebek and Ali Mohamad Kourani, a/k/a Jacob Lewis, a/k/a Daniel

In other words, while these two are out of action, others are still “out there” and may not all be known to law enforcement.  That chilling prospect is certainly not conducive to getting a good night’s sleep.

The press releasee, important to read in its entirety, also included this excerpt:

Ali Kourani, 32, of the Bronx, New York, and Samer el Debek, 37, of Dearborn, Michigan, aka, “Samer Eldebek,” were arrested on Thursday, June 1, on charges related to their alleged activities on behalf of Hizballah, a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Dana Boente, Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim for the Southern District of New York, Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. of the FBI’s New York Office, and Commissioner James P. O’Neill of the NYPD made the announcement.

Acting U.S. Attorney Kim said: “Today, we announce serious terrorism charges against two men who allegedly trained with and supported the Islamic Jihad Organization, a component of the foreign terrorist organization Hizballah.  Recruited as Hizballah operatives, Samer El Debek and Ali Kourani allegedly received military-style training, including in the use of weapons like rocket-propelled grenade launchers and machine guns for use in support of the group’s terrorist mission.  At the direction of his Hizballah handlers, El Debek allegedly conducted missions in Panama to locate the U.S. and Israeli Embassies and to assess the vulnerabilities of the Panama Canal and ships in the Canal. Kourani allegedly conducted surveillance of potential targets in America, including military and law enforcement facilities in New York City. Thanks to the outstanding work of the FBI and NYPD, the allegedly destructive designs of these two Hizballah operatives have been thwarted, and they will now face justice in a Manhattan federal court.”

It is important to note that, allegedly, they were both given military training overseas, tasked with conducting surveillance at military bases, law enforcement facilities and critical infrastructure in New York City and elsewhere and with establishing contacts who could provide them with weapons.

Recently I wrote about the ENLIST Act: When “Compassion” Endangers National Security.  This ill-conceived legislation would reward illegal aliens with a pathway to lawful immigrant status and put them on the pathway to U.S. citizenship if they serve in the U.S. military.

Aliens who are involved with terrorism could exploit this program to gain access to military bases, military training and military weapons in the United States.

Both of the defendants are naturalized United States citizens and, in point of fact, the New York Times article about this investigation, Bronx Man Accused of Casing J.F.K. Airport for Potential Hezbollah Attack included this paragraph:

The man, Ali Kourani, a 32-year-old naturalized citizen from Lebanon, told the F.B.I. in a series of interviews that he believed he had been recruited to join Hezbollah’s Islamic Jihad Organization as part of an effort to develop “sleepers” who lived ostensibly normal lives but could be “activated and tasked” with conducting operations, the complaint said.

“Sleeper Cells” are an area of concern for our law enforcement agencies and I have addressed this vulnerability in some of my Congressional testimony and in some of  my articles such as, Sleeper Cells: The Immigration Component of the Threat.

Often terrorist sleepers seek to acquire lawful immigration status by submitting fraud-laden applications for immigration benefits such as  falsely claiming political asylum, by acquiring resident alien status and ultimately, attaining U.S. citizenship through the naturalization process, concealing their connections with terrorist organization and their overt and covert actions.

The New York Times article went on to note:

Mr. Kourani said in the interviews that he had been allowed to attend a Hezbollah “boot camp” in Lebanon when he was 16 years old because of his family’s connections to a high-ranking Hezbollah official, according to the complaint.

“Kourani considers his family name to be akin to the ‘bin Ladens of Lebanon,’ and one of his brothers is the ‘face of Hezbollah’ in Yater, Lebanon,” the complaint said.

Mr. Kourani said he had been recruited to join the organization in 2008, in light of his education and because he lived in the United States, the authorities said in the complaint. They said that he had told the authorities that one of his first instructions from his “handler” in Lebanon, a man called Fadi, was to obtain American citizenship as soon as possible, which he did in 2009.

Given the above paragraph, apparently Terrorists Value U.S. Citizenshp More Than Our Politicians Do.

If, in fact, Kourani’s family’s relationship wth Hezbollah was so public, the obvious question is how he could have been naturalized or, going further back, how could he have been lawfully admitted into the United States in the first place?

All applicants for United States citizenship are supposed to undergo a “Good Moral Character Investigation.”  This is supposed to be a far more stringent investigation than simply running fingerprints to search for any criminal history, but has been all but eliminated by a succession of administrations.

As United States citizens these alleged terrorists could use their U.S. passports  to keep a lower profile, gain access to corporate and government office buildings and access to airliners.  They use their may use their U.S. passports to get jobs that may have national security or critical infrastructure implications and to more easily gain entry into countries that might have required that they apply for and receive visas before seeking entry.

Furthermore, having multiple passports makes it easier for terrorists and transnational criminals to cover their tracks by using their passport alternately as they travel around the world.

The complaint filed in the Eastern District of New York concerning defendant El Derek includes this statement by FBI Special Agent Daniel M. Ganci:

“El Debek said he was first recruited by Hizballah in late 2007 or early 2008 and began to receive a salary from Hizballah shortly thereafter.  Although El Debek said he did not know why he was recruited, he said he believed he was recruited because he held a U.S. passport.”

That complaint, in articulating in part, the justification for declaring Hizballah (Hezbollah) a terrorist organization, reported on four individuals who were Lebanese dual-nationals who acquired citizenship in Sweden, France and Canada and had carried out activities in support of Hezbollah’s acts of terrorism, murder and violence in the Middle East and elsewhere as members of IJO (Islamic Jihad Organization).

It is important to note that those three countries are all Visa Waiver countries.

For example, at the time of his arrest in Cyprus in 2015 Bassam Abdallah, a Lebanese-Canadian possessed a fraudulent passport when he was found in possession of 8.2 tons of ammonium nitrate.

There are those who claim that young people turn to terrorism because of a lack of opportunities and hence, poverty, however, the New York Times article also reported:

The complaint said that Mr. Kourani had also obtained a bachelor of science degree in biomedical engineering in 2009, and in 2013, a master of business administration. The complaint did not identify the colleges, but a LinkedIn page for a man with his name who obtained those degrees in those years identifies the schools as City College of New York and DeVry University’s Keller Graduate School of Management.

Kourani’s engineering degree could be described as a case of Educating ‘Engineers of Jihad’ at US Universities and certainly equipped with him with the essential skills to carry out sophisticated terror attacks in the United States.

In point of fact, the ability of terrorists to acquire such high tech training at U.S. universities that would thereby enable them to construct weapons of mass destruction was a concern voiced by Senator Feinstein at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing conducted on February 24, 1998 on the topic, “Foreign terrorists in America : five years after the World Trade Center.”

Nevertheless, today there are college administrators at schools across the United States who have turned their campuses into Sanctuary Campuses that refuse to cooperate with DHS.

After the attacks of September 11, 2001 a veritable parade of politicians strutted up to podiums bristling with microphones to complain bitterly that “No one connected the dots.”

Today we have connected a number of those dots and it is time for our politicians irrespective of political affiliations to act and act swiftly, indeed.  Time is not on our side.

 

Article

 

Supporting Links:

HZB in the U.S.

HZB in the U.S.

 


Welcome to the land of Disney. I wonder what the permit looked like.

I wonder where all our tax dollars went thanks to Obama’s “deal” of the ages.

 


GEDRICH: Coping with NATO Freeloaders

GEDRICH: Coping with NATO Freeloaders

 

 

 

by Fred Gedrich 5 Jun 2017

In a recent gathering of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member country leaders at their Brussels, Belgium Headquarters, U.S. President Donald Trump formally asked those whose governments aren’t fulfilling their treaty defense funding obligations to pay up.

His request for payment is appropriate, although met with scorn and snickers by some European leaders, who seemingly would much rather invest their nations’ valuable resources on matters like climate change than their collective and national defense. The subsequent terrorist attack in London provides another grim reminder of the dangers NATO countries face.

NATO’s purpose is to guarantee the freedom and security of its members through political and military means. The United States, Canada, and several Western European nations created the organization in 1949 to provide collective security against the Soviet Union. It subsequently expanded to 28 member nations and changed its mission after the 1991 Soviet Union collapse.

More than ten years ago all NATO members agreed to spend at least two percent of their gross domestic product (goods and services produced) on defense spending to ensure all of them are at a satisfactory defense readiness level. Currently, only 5 of 28 members are meeting their defense funding commitments. As a result, U.S. taxpayers are shouldering the burden of building up the U.S. military to compensate for other member shortfalls. If NATO is to carry out its mission effectively, each member must invest in its defense at prescribed levels to ensure each can respond to contemporary threats in Europe like Russian aggression and radical Islamic terrorism.

Those threats are very real. In recent years, Putin’s Russia seized parts of the Ukraine and Georgia and is intimidating some other European neighbors as well with its military and hefty nuclear arsenal. And who can forget the recent wanton slaughter of innocent civilians in NATO country urban areas by radical Islamic terrorists such as occurred in Belgium, France, Germany, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States?

How does the NATO funding scheme work? Its most important element is member country readiness, achieved through defense spending of at least 2 percent of each nation’s GDP. The collective GDP for the 28 NATO member nations in 2016 was $38.4 trillion. If all members invested 2 percent of their GDP on defense spending then about $768 billion ($38.4 trillion x 2 percent) would be available for the organization’s common defense.

However, despite repeated attempts by two previous U.S. presidents, Bush and Obama, only a handful of NATO members have met or exceeded their financial defense spending commitments. In fact, as of 2016, only the United States, United Kingdom, Poland, Estonia, and Greece have done so.

The failure of 23 NATO members to meet their defense funding commitments means that those delinquent nations may not be able to meet the minimum manpower, equipment, and support expected of NATO members in the event of a security emergency, which could be devastating for the countries and the alliance. It also means that there is a collective defense funding shortfall of $134 billion among those nations.

Who are the freeloaders?  The 23 include nearly all of the richest Western European nations. Germany – Europe’s wealthiest NATO member with a $4 trillion GDP – is $38.2 billion short on its $80 billion spending bill by only investing 1.18 percent of its GDP on defense. Italy is $23.1 billion short; Spain is $18.8 billion short; Canada is $16.7 billion short; NATO host Belgium is $5.6 billion short; France is $5.5 billion short; and Luxembourg – which has Europe’s greatest average annual income per person at $102,000 – contributed less than .5 percent of its GDP for defense. There may be an excuse for the newest members from Eastern Europe with developing economies for not being able to meet these funding levels, but there is no excuse for the wealthy nations.

How does NATO make up the defense funding shortfall? Like it always does, delinquent member countries rely on the United States to make up the difference. Since the organization’s founding, the United States has served as its chief benefactor. In 2016, the U.S. invested $672 billion in defense spending, $300 billion more than the alliance required, and supplying about 68 percent of NATO’s total resources.

After President Trump’s payment demand, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that “we Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands.”  She might instead consider taking some of the other European leaders for a trip down memory lane to fully appreciate the sacrifices in blood and treasure Americans have made for European nations during the 20th Century. Here are a few things for them to consider:

  • 521, 925 Americans died liberating Europe during World War I and II.
  • 874,848 Americans were wounded in Europe during World War I and II.
  • 104,366 Americans killed during World War I and II never returned home and are buried in European cemeteries.
  • The United States spent about $130 billion current year dollars rebuilding Europe after World War II through the Marshall Plan.

It is largely because of U.S. efforts and American goodwill that Western Europeans survived Germany tyranny during World War I and II and protected Western Europeans, including West Germany, from Soviet Union domination during the Cold War. In addition, it also allowed Chancellor Merkel’s country to eventually overcome its Nazi and communist (East Germany) past and evolve into a free, self-governing unified country that many currently consider Western Europe’s leader.

If Chancellor Merkel and other disenchanted European leaders truly want to take their fate into their own hands, they might want to first consider meeting their NATO defense spending obligations, because it would enhance their own national security as well as the alliance’s – and give Europeans a pathway for their own self-reliance rather than continued U.S. security dependence.  And it would surely please U.S. taxpayers and President Trump if they did.

Fred Gedrich is a foreign policy and national security analyst. He served in the departments of State and Defense.