Tucker: “Why should my son die for Montenegro?”
Trump: “I understand and I feel the same way”
— Jonathan Cristol (@jonathancristol) July 18, 2018
What’s wrong with the question? I mean, look, I think Trump’s performance in Helsinki was awful too — here’s George F. Will, breathing straight fire — but I can’t see why it is so obviously wrong for Tucker Carlson to ask that question.
He’s referring to the tiny Balkan nation’s joining NATO a year ago. Russia was furious over it, seeing the move as encroaching on its sphere of influence. Of course Russia’s ally Serbia, which is adjacent to Montenegro, opposed the move too. The NATO treaty requires the US to go to war to defend Montenegro against aggressors.
Here, via Google Maps, is a map of the region:
What, exactly, is so important about Montenegro that it’s worth committing the United States to wage war on countries that threaten it? It’s a great deal for Montenegro, for sure, but for the US? Trump said in his exchange with Carlson that if Montenegro gets aggressive with someone (presumably its neighbor Serbia, a Russian ally), “Congratulations, you’re in World War III.”
Why is Trump wrong about this? Is this not the kind of thing that sparked World War I?
Our foreign policy establishment decided that it was a good idea for American sons to die for Iraq and Afghanistan. They’re still in Afghanistan, dying (two have been killed in the past week). Why?
Take a look at No. 4 on this series of maps. It shows NATO countries versus Warsaw Pact countries, compared to NATO countries today. Since the Cold War, NATO has expanded to the very borders of Russia. I certainly understand why nations that were occupied and brutalized by the Soviet Union wanted to be part of NATO. That said, look at things from Russia’s point of view.
Are Americans prepared to go to war with Russia over countries they can’t even find on a map? The question is preposterous to foreign policy and political elites, but whose sons would be going to fight these wars?
In a City Journal piece today, the geopolitics analyst Miguel Monjardino, who is a supporter of the Euro-American alliance, writes:
The difficulty is that European progressives and nationalists alike see Trump only as a political comet charting an angry and erratic course over the transatlantic skies. We remain stubbornly fixated on him. Trump is much more than a comet, though. He is an eclipse—one that prevents us from understanding and acting upon what is really going on in a world changing at great speed. As I see it from the Azores, in the heart of the Atlantic, the great Euro-American alliance as we have known it is sinking.
The fact that Tucker Carlson’s question is so shocking and appalling to elites is a good example of this. If you cannot answer his question in a way that the Americans who will be fighting and dying in this putative war to defend Montenegro can understand, then you’ve got a big problem. After the disaster of Iraq, why should Americans trust the judgment of their foreign policy and political elites? It’s not a rhetorical question.
Yes, Vladimir Putin is playing Trump like a fiddle. But that doesn’t make Trump, however crude he may be, entirely wrong. Trump also seems to understand that Russia is not going to be America’s greatest adversary this century; China is.
Somebody please explain to me why my sons should die for Montenegro. I’m not trolling you. I’m listening.
UPDATE: A perfectly fair ancillary point:
When talking to the president who supported Montenegro accession to NATO, it might be useful to ask him why he supported it if he thinks it is such a terrible idea
— Daniel Larison (@DanielLarison) July 18, 2018
UPDATE.2: People, I’m not at all saying that we should refuse to defend Montenegro. Like it or not, Montenegro is now a member of NATO, and we have treaty obligations. My point is that we are being reckless in extending NATO guarantees beyond reason. We are still at war in Afghanistan after 16 years, with no end in sight. Why are American soldiers (and other NATO soldiers) still dying in Afghanistan? Pretty soon, the soldiers who are fighting these wars, and their families, are going to start asking these questions, because the abstractions aren’t as compelling as their concrete situations. — RD]