, 20 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
1. We all know that withdrawing the US from NATO is the mother of all batshit crazy ideas. But we can't ignore the fact that Trump might actually do it. Don't kid yourself, he wants to. Maybe we will get lucky and he won't pull the trigger. But if he did, what would it look like?
2. It's a hard question to answer, because literally NO ONE has ever taken such an idea seriously, or done any planning on it. You'd have been laughed out of any previous Administration for suggesting. Bolton, Pompeo, & nearly every member of Congress (save Rand Paul?) oppose it.
3. It's scary, but let's understand it. Here's just a few first order effects. For starters, it'd be open season for Russia in E & C Europe. Putin already feels free to menace non-NATO states (Ukraine &Georgia) & "reacquire" Belarus. First targets: Baltics & Montenegro. And then?
4. Even with the US in NATO, Trump fudges about whether we'd meet our Article 5 commitments to defend other states. But how about when that commitment is literally canceled? Russian tanks may not roll in the next day, but Putin will know he has a free hand literally everywhere.
5. Would European nations act on their own to defend threatened NATO members? Highly doubtful. But would the U.S. join them in an ad hoc coalition? Maybe. But we would have just dismantled the joint defense structures that allow us to operate in a coordinated way. Good luck.
6. Without U.S. participation in NATO, the logic of U.S. troops remaining deployed in European bases in Germany, Italy, the UK, Spain, Turkey, and elsewhere quickly breaks down and will be dependent solely on bilateral agreements with host countries.
7. One does not need to be an absolutist, unwilling to consider any adjustment in U.S. force structure, to understand that a precipitous withdrawal from Europe will result in poorer common European defense capabilities and weaker U.S. power projection when the need arises.
8. One of the most underappreciated benefits of NATO is its suppression of intra-European conflicts. Remember that photo of Macron & Merkel embracing at a memorial on the 100th anniversary of World War I? Moving, right? And guess what: *not the norm* for most of European history.
9. In historical terms, it is not that long ago that France, Germany, & other European powers engaged in centuries of warfare, culminating in 2 awful world wars. The peace that has reigned in W Europe for the last 70 years, & helped end the wars in the Balkans, is not automatic.
10. There are many reasons for it. Yes, those societies & their relationships evolved. But NATO's been a critical part: European countries *willingly* submitted to US strategic domination, which helped keep those states from turning to military means to settle their own disputes.
11. Crucially, Germany embraced a restrained foreign & military policy, dampening one of the greatest internal threats that plagued Europe in the past. United &aligned with the US, Europe's held its own against Russia. Divided & left on its own, Europe is easy pickings for Putin.
12. Remove the United States from NATO, and the dominoes could start to tumble. A divided, internally conflicted Europe with the United States on the sidelines could lead to catastrophic humanitarian, security, and economic consequences. Just ask anyone over 85.
13. The loss of US influence wouldn't be confined to Europe. US allies in Asia & the Middle East would also understand that we were entering a period of severe isolationism by the US, whose most sacred commitments would be placed in doubt. They would have no choice but to adjust.
14. Pompeo's recent Middle East swing notwithstanding, countries throughout the region are already giving far greater attention to their relations w/Moscow than they have in years. A US withdrawal from NATO would turbocharge those trends. Even a NYT article on it advances them.
15. Israel would have to endure major disruption to its military coordination with the US, which is conducted via US Euro Command. Those are the troops who drill with the IDF, surge missile defense assets to Israel when the need arises, & are close enough to respond in a crisis.
16. Take away European Command, which is intimately woven into the NATO structure, and you have US military coordination with Israel conducted from CONUS or from bases in Arab Gulf states. Both create significant logistical and political complications.
17. Everything above just scratches the surface. The bottom line of this long thread is that a US pullout of NATO is so disastrous, we can't really even imagine it. But it means a darker world, with a diminished US, an empowered Russia, and dangerous fallout on every continent.
18. Yes, NATO members must up their defense spending to 2 percent. And we all need to educate the US public, which worryingly sees NATO in increasingly partisan terms. But the real responsibility lies w/Congress, & especially Republicans, who Trump is turning to for his survival.
19. Unlike their typically milquetoast reaction to Trump's outrages that they know are awful, GOP congressional leaders need to make him understand that withdrawal from NATO is the brightest of red lines. Democrats too, but a partisan fight may just embolden him. It's on the R's.
20. I wrote at length about this terrifying prospect, and what we need to do about it, in @DemJournal. You can read it here:
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