Europe questioning the heavy price for playing along with US regime change

By: Rachel Marsden

PARIS --  If there’s one theme the Trump administration has been consistent about, it’s that Europe has to start paying for its rideshare costs down the American regime-change superhighway.

Except U.S. President Donald Trump hasn’t put it in those terms, exactly. No one ever does. But the reality is that what experts call the “Transatlantic Alliance” has largely been reduced to a folie à deux, culminating in attempted defenestrations of other heads of state. It hasn’t worked out too well.

NATO is the organization under which Europe and the U.S. attempt to diffuse any national responsibility for failed regime-change efforts — from Libya and Afghanistan to Iraq and Ukraine. The multinational nature of the efforts permits leaders from each of the individual member states to largely absolve themselves from accountability in elections by saying that the bungled efforts weren’t their doing but rather were undertaken by the “international community.”

Although he campaigned on reducing American military interventionism, Trump has repeatedly called for NATO countries to kick in more cash. Perhaps he hasn’t fully thought this through, because it seems contrary to Trump’s vows to reduce American involvement in inciting and sustaining foreign conflicts.

What existential military threat do Europe and North America face that requires more money to be thrown at it? The dirty little secret is that there isn’t one. By negating this fact, Trump reduces himself to little more than a preacher trying to guilt the faithful into coughing up more cash for the collection plate, believing that they’ll pay purely out of habit and ideology.

Instead of calling for greater European spending to continue NATO’s global regime-change tour, Trump should be cutting America’s own commitments. The problem is much easier to see when the cash and justifications aren’t laundered through an international organization. Without NATO as a pretext for funding military adventures, Europe seems a lot less interested in being left holding the bag — and the Trump administration seems less inclined to have the U.S. fund those adventures.

During a trip to Poland this week, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence spouted the usual rhetoric about how America will “stand with Ukraine.” But Pence also said that it’s time for Europe to start footing more of the bills, and that Ukraine still has corruption problems.

Wasn’t Western-backed regime change supposed to fix that? Europe and the U.S. both bought it and broke it, and now it looks as if America wants Europe to pay. It’s not the first time. EU funding have repeatedly been allocated to stabilizing European areas overwhelmed by regime change — notably in Southern Europe, which migrants from Middle Eastern and African “forever wars” have flooded in recent years. Turkey has been able to leverage the massive numbers of these migrants flowing across its borders, repeatedly extorting the EU for more cash in exchange for not letting the migrants venture into Europe.

The U.S. left Europe holding the bag when America reneged on an agreement to lift sanctions against Iran in exchange for Iran halting nuclear enrichment. This week, a high-level Iranian diplomatic delegation arrived here in Paris to meet with French counterparts. In order to maintain the nuclear deal, it appears that either the European Central Bank or the Bank of France will now have to come up with a multibillion-euro line of credit to offset Trump’s “maximum pressure” on the Iranian economy — all while Europe faces challenges in trying to circumvent U.S. sanctions to do business with Iran.

European nations are coming to the realization that ideology can only last so long in the face of overwhelming geopolitical realities. On some level, Trump seems to understand this. At the recent G-7 summit in Biarritz, France, responded to a journalist’s question about potentially inviting Russia to rejoin the G-7 by saying, “Remember, they’re building a big pipeline in Europe going right up to Germany. And I said to Angela [Merkel] … ‘You pay Russia billions of dollars and then we defend you from Russia.’ And I say, “How does that work?”

Trump seems to be acknowledging the lunacy of plowing cash into NATO to defend the alliance from a key economic partner. Trump’s right: It doesn’t “work” — at least not for the citizens of Western nations, with the exception of those who profit from the military-industrial complex or benefit from the sanctioning of rivals on the global playing field.

European nations can no longer afford to play along with the charade. Perhaps America can’t either.