1. I don't think we are fully grappling with the possibility that we could be on the on the cusp of a completely new era, a fundamental reshaping of the international order. And I don't mean over the course of the Trump Administration. I mean by next week.
2. It sounds outlandish to even say it out loud, and some can easily call this hyperbole. I hope to God it does not happen. But we would be insane not to grapple with the possibility.
3. Trump clearly wants to pull the US out of NATO.
He doesn't believe in the alliance (or any alliances); he thinks our allies take advantage of us; he complains that NATO is worse than NAFTA(whatever that means); he seeks purely transactional relations with our closest partners.
4. Should other NATO members meet their 2% of GDP defense spending targets? Absolutely. Trump is on solid ground to push for it. But to consistently trash allies, undervalue their contributions to our security, threaten to withdraw US troops -- that's him wanting out.
5. Perhaps most damaging is that his rhetoric is building up hostility to NATO among his supporters. It's a huge breach in the consensus American support for the alliance that has undergirded Western security for 70 years, and it won't disappear when Trump does.
6. What's more, his passionate desire for friendship with Putin is emboldening Russia & risks doing further damage to European security. If he recognizes Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea, if he seeks to tone down sanctions on Russia over its aggression vs Ukraine, watch out.
7. This could play out in the next 2 weeks. If he sabotages the NATO summit the way he did the G-7, don't be surprised if he actually makes a move toward exiting NATO. Think he won't? On what basis? Because his staff restrains him? Because of his strategic understanding? Please.
8. If we get there, the implications are innumerable & terrifying: Russia pawing at Baltics &other E & C European states; breakdown of joint defense structures; withdrawal of US troops from Euro bases; less restrained German foreign policy; weaker US power projection to Eurasia.
9. That just scratches the surface. We honestly cannot begin to imagine living in a new era without these international organizing structures. Because for all of NATO's challenges, no sane person or American political leader has or would contemplate such a reckless move.
10. But it could happen. Our President doesn't know the history or strategy, doesn't listen to experts, personalizes everything & makes it transactional, & loves the drama of the outrageous move that dominates cable TV coverage. For him, pulling out of NATO is all gain, no cost.
11. Even as I write this, it sounds fantastical. I will be the happiest person on the planet if I look back at this thread and say, man, you were way overreacting. But we need to be ready for this awful scenario to play out.
12. I repeat: we are potentially on the verge of a wildly dangerous cascade of events that will devastate our interests, weaken our leadership, abandon our allies, embolden our adversaries, and make the world a darker and more brutal place.
13. We have done no planning for this course of action. No one thinks it is a good idea. But one man, whose knowledge and values are wanting, whose motivation is suspect, and whose supporters follow him blindly, could take us there. END