March 23, 2017 - Fort Russ -
Ruslan Ostashko, Live Journal - translated by J. Arnoldski -
The behavior of Donald Trump’s closest supporters has once again provoked an international scandal. This time, it was Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his team that distinguished themselves in seriously offending European NATO countries, who have once again begun to fear that they might be abandoned and left at the mercy of the Russian bear.
This scandal broke out over the fact that NATO’s special summit on foreign policy to be held in April might pass without the participation of the US Secretary of State, i.e., the figure who traditionally plays a key role in these meetings. Such an event is held every year and is necessary for coordinating NATO’s member-countries’ foreign policies, hence why the presence of diplomatic leaders is considered necessary.
But this time it turns out that Tillerson is not planning to discuss or coordinate anything with anyone. According to the State Department’s official version, the Secretary of State will be too busy to participate in this fun get-together at which various Eastern European frontier states will habitually demand money, weapons, and Washington’s defense of their elections from evil Putin. American journalists and experts are in deep shock and no less profound sadness that the Trump Administration is showing with all of its efforts that NATO is a burden rather than a favorite pet.
For example, US Congressman Eliot Engel believes that "Donald Trump's Administration is making a grave error that will shake the confidence of America's most important alliance and feed the concern that this Administration simply too cozy with Vladimir Putin.”
There are several theories as to what Tillerson will be so busy with. According to one version, he will assist Donald Trump prepare to meet with Xi Jinping. Here there really is the risk that Baltic and Eastern European politicians will burst out of resentment as it turns out that some Chinese are more important to Washington than its most loyal vassals and minions.
The second theory is even more insulting, and posits that Tillerson will be busy meeting with Russian officials. A State Department representative has confirmed to American NBC that the Secretary of State has several trips to Russia planned for the near future, but refused to provide details. In response to a question concerning Tillerson visiting, Maria Zakharova responded evasively, refusing to confirm or deny this information. But the amount of available information makes it very likely that the US Secretary of State will turn up in Moscow soon. The very possibility that the head of American diplomacy would ignore a NATO foreign policy summit but find time to make several visits to Moscow is regarded by some American politicians as virtually proof of treason.
And now the icing on the cake. After media burst into a storm of indignation over Tillerson’s behavior, the State Department made several statements that look like real mockery of the EU. I won’t retell them in diplomatic language, but immediately translate them into normal English.
First of all, a State Department spokesman specified that if someone among European diplomats so urgently needs to discuss something with the US Secretary of State, then they can intercept him on the sidelines of Washington’s summit on the fight against ISIS, most likely somewhere in a corner under the stairs where, if Tillerson wants to, he’ll talk with them.
Secondly, a State Department representative stressed that Tillerson has suggested several dates for which NATO could reschedule its summit if it really needs the US Secretary of State to attend. In other words, his schedule is for Putin and Xi Jinping, and if 27 foreign ministers of NATO countries want to talk to him, then let them come at a different time.
On a diplomatic level, all of these are serious insults or, in the very least, signs of disrespect.
These demarches are especially vivid amidst Trump’s fresh statements on Germany owing the US “a lot” of money for maintaining NATO. Indeed, the American President has addressed similar claims to all NATO countries. This also explains all the difficulties that European politicians and diplomats are experienced in relations with the US.
Trump promised the American military-industrial lobby a lot of money, and this was one of the key aspects that ensured him victory in the elections. His budget program is cutting expenditure items to the bone, including science and education, but increasing allocations for arms corporations' manufacturing. Yet even this is nowhere near enough to satisfy the appetites of the most influential American lobby. European countries will have to pay, as Trump decided during his election campaign.
The American President’s demands include a tribute in the amount of 2% of GDP from every European NATO member. On the EU level, this means that Washington wants to receive $330 billion a year starting now and forever. Even in its heyday, Europe would hardly have borne such expenses. In the context of ongoing economic crisis, this is simply impossible.
But who does this worry? Obviously not Trump. It should worry those European politicians who run the risk of incurring the American administration’s wrath. All of them are very unlucky seeing as how people have come to power in Washington for whom money is dearer than Russophobia, and this time around many European countries simply don’t have the money.
As they say, “no money, no love.” In the very least, Trump and Tillerson will certainly not love NATO countries without European money.
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