For all his faults, Donald Trump had the right idea about NATO | Mulshine

“My liberal friends like to portray Donald Trump as some sort of a crazed warmonger.

But they also like to criticize him for his stance on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Trump was always highly critical of NATO, arguing it benefitted the Europeans at our expense. And recently it was reported in the book “I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year” that he was going to pull the U.S. out of NATO if he had won re-election.

In the book, Washington Post reporters Phil Rucker and Carol Leonnig reported that Trump’s own defense secretary, Mark Esper, “was rooting for Joe Biden to win the election because he believed he cared about national security.”

Esper got his wish. But let us imagine the U.S. had pulled out of the alliance that was created back when there was a Soviet Union that was dedicated to spreading Marxism all over the world.

These days, Russia’s economy is smaller than Germany’s. It’s smaller than France’s. It’s smaller than Britain’s. It’s even smaller than Italy’s.

If those guys perceive a threat from Russia, they certainly have the wherewithal to defend against it.

But what’s in it for us?

That’s a question we should be asking ourselves amid the current kerfuffle over Russia and Ukraine.

Beltway politicians of both parties are taking a hawkish stance. On the right, Texas Senator Ted Cruz recently pushed a resolution to impose sanctions on Russia’s Nordstream 2 pipeline, which will carry natural gas to Germany, to discourage Russia from interfering in Ukraine.

On the Democratic side, our own Sen. Robert Menendez called it the “Trump-Putin” pipeline. He voted against the Cruz approach but instead demanded that the U.S be ready to impose even tougher, “crippling” sanctions in the event Russia invades Ukraine.

Editorial cartoons of the week

Ukraine hawk is right out of “Doctor Strangelove”

During a TV interview on the Ukraine crisis, a Mississippi senator suggested we need to warn the Russians about our nuclear weapons; that’s as nutty as the satire in the classic Cold War movie “Doctor Strangelove”

Meanwhile there are reports that the CIA is training Ukrainian troops to battle the Russians. The administration also warned of a possible “false flag” effort by the Russians to create a crisis that would permit them to invade.

All of this saber-rattling is based on the idea that Russian troops are poised to roll into Ukraine. But it doesn’t look that way to the military-intelligence expert who correctly predicted that Saddam Hussein would invade Kuwait in 1990.

Pat Lang, who was credited with that prediction in Bob Woodward’s book “The Commanders,” said aerial photos show the Russians are not ready for an invasion.

Back before the First Gulf War, “We knew the Iraqis were gonna invade Kuwait,” Lang said. “They moved all this stuff down to a zone 30 kilometers from the border and set up in positions from which they would attack.”

But in Russia, “This stuff is all parked in nice, neat rows like in a motor pool for easy maintenance.”

Putin’s real goal is to keep Ukraine out of NATO, Lang said, and the U.S. should accede to that request.

In the Cold War we wouldn’t have let the Warsaw Pact set up in Canada or Mexico; we should accept that Putin has the same fears, Lang said.

“I don’t think any of the fools who are messing around there understand what the stakes are,” he said. “Here we’re messing with a thermonuclear power.”

Trump had many weak points. but his desire to avoid getting the U.S. involved in more wars was not among them, he said.

“He’s a businessman and he doesn’t like war,” Lang said. “War detracts from your balance sheet.”

Unless of course you’re a military leader. Over his lifelong career in the Army, Lang met plenty of top officers.

“The leadership of the military, they’re just politicians in uniform,” he said “They’re politicians who try to look like soldiers.”

Their political positions tend to be interventionist, he said.

As for Trump, he may have been good at making deals, but “His problem is he doesn’t understand government,” Lang said. Trump kept appointing people like Esper and former Defense Secretary Mike Pompeo who held foreign-policy views the opposite of his. They argued that our position in NATO won us influence in Europe, and that position was popular among the Beltway insiders.

That helped bring about Trump’s demise, said a prominent Russian expert who often posts on Lang’s foreign-policy blog.

“I think Trump did get it, but he over-estimated his power and underestimated his enemies,” said Pat Armstrong, a Canadian Russia analyst who spent four years in his country’s Moscow embassy during the 1990s.

Armstrong is also skeptical of the hawks’ insistence that Putin will take over Ukraine.

“Ukraine is a decaying, impoverished, de-industrialised, divided, corrupt and decaying mess,” he writes. “Moscow does not want to take responsibility for the package,”

Does Washington?

Well, we took responsibility for Iraq and Afghanistan. And look how those worked out.

So why not?”

This entry was posted in As The Borg Turns, Current Affairs, Russia, The Military Art. Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to For all his faults, Donald Trump had the right idea about NATO | Mulshine

  1. <>
    Umm, just to take one — how big are these countries space programs?

    • Pat Lang says:

      Mulshine is a good fellow, but he is very Jersey. Because I am a Virginian, he thinks I should say things like “gonna.”

  2. Fred says:

    If we got out of NATO, all those think tankers and associated hacks wouldn’t get free junkets to Europe. We might actually start spending our tax dollars at home, rather than abroad.

  3. blue peacock says:

    The issue with Trump was not his ideas but his execution. He nominated the Deep State/Borg combine in all the key executive positions. And when he had the opportunity to really take down the Deep State who made a serious attempt to take him down, he folded like a cheap suit.

    • Seamus Padraig says:

      I’m increasingly convinced that Trump was never more than a controlled opposition figure, which would explain, among other things, his lousy cabinet appointments. Even so, on the merits he was still preferable to Hellary, Biden, or anyone else in this rotten political system of ours. 🙁

      • Deap says:

        Took a while for Trump to get some mojo as a surprise victory outsider candidate with the deep state plotting against him even before he was sworn in. Trump was made too toxic by the media and its supporting Democrat establishment for anyone to even consider working in his administration in the early days.

        Betty DeVos as a good pick. Ben Carson was a good pick. Mike Pompeo was a good pick. Rick Grenell was a good pick. Mike Flynn was probably a good pick too.

        SCOTUS picks were far better than what went before – always a wildcard but I will take Gorsuch, Kavanaug, Barrett any day over Merrick Garland.

        Federal bench appointments are already making a difference nation wide – busting up the tyranny of the 9th District alone deserves more credit than given Trump’s long slog to change the nature of the activist federal bench.

        There are others, who did not grab the headlines but who may have at least is small ways stopped the ongoing “regulatory capture” of cabinet agencies by the very industries they were supposed to regulate – the Democrat pay to play organizations.

        Go long on Trump, far more good than bad came from his short tenure with its huge outsider learning curve and daily deep state sabotage and media character assassinations we were force to witness during his short four years.

  4. Deap says:

    Russia remembers being grotesquely and horrifically invaded by European nations too many times in the past to the loss of millions of country men both by war and by starvation.

    One can justify their post-WWII desire to put a buffer between themselves and invading European armies -which they always defeated, but at costs we cannot even imagine. Russia’s history runs long and deep, much longer than we upstart Western nation states.

    However, that said, time for everyone to support a great re-set in post WWII relationships and expectations. And throw the US some love, since we bailed out their continents wars too many times ourselves.

    Is today’s America even capable of feeling territorial wounds when we allowed our Southern border to be maliciously erased?

  5. Harlan Easley says:

    “I don’t think any of the fools who are messing around there understand what the stakes are,” he said. “Here we’re messing with a thermonuclear power.”

    This is the only truth that matters. These Goddamn Neocons are going to destroy us all.

  6. Babeltuap says:

    I see no value in NATO. It didn’t prevent wars, death and massive refugees. In many ways it’s worse. It actually is worse now that I think about it. The whole planet has gone insane over something that is less than 2% as lethal as the Bubonic plague and that’s being generous. Take out covid deaths of people in hospice, car wrecks and other people who were hanging on to life before covid and it’s less than 1%…meh.

    We should get out of NATO and see how it works out for a while. Maybe we can secure our borders and re-purpose aid to other countries to our own people. Maybe starving people in Africa start growing and selling their crops again instead of sitting around waiting for international free groceries and free delivery service.

    • Claudius says:

      I did a year on a Naval NATO staff, and had to work closely with another NATO naval staff. Thought both were run by the Royal Navy, no matter who was nominally in charge. They had far more officers than ships; probably worse now.
      In my era they did know what they were doing. RN Falklands lessons learned were applied on my next ship.
      I see no reason for it now beyond providing slots for the passed over, and haven’t since 1992

      • scott s. says:

        Well , under Trump we now have Joint Force Command Norfolk and reconstituted 2d Fleet so there’s that. Brings back memories of NORTHERN WEDDING.

        • Claudius says:

          Did that as well! Memorable morning working with bridge watchstanders and my copy of Combat Fleets on ship identification. Comm flails because we were all conditioned to use secure voice for everything; European guys used other voice circuits.

  7. siberiancat says:

    Russia’s economy is actually about the size of Germany’s if you use the PPP terms, which is the right comparison.

    • And Germany’s space program is…?
      Germany makes all its own military stuff….?
      Germany has a top-to-bottom aircraft manufacturing sector…?
      Germany is a major food exporter…?
      Germany is a major energy exporter…?
      And Germany produces how much steel…?
      At least Germany has kept its powerful manufacturing sector.

      These comparisons all miss something — Russia runs a full-service economy that’s getting more and more stand-alone.

      • Claudius says:

        I watch semi routinely a couple of vlogs done by Russians. One host is a young woman student in the Far East who travels some, the other hosts are a pair who hike into the Chernobyl exclusion zone and travel elsewhere some. I seriously doubt that they are state sponsored.
        I’m not a photo intel analyst, however I note the following:
        -The streets are clean in city areas. Rural roads have potholes but are easily passable.
        – The cars are newer models, not smoking like a Trabbie. Ladas not the norm. The major highways are driveable at speed, and there are many semi trucks (HGVs).
        – Trains appear to be clean and maintained, even in 3rd class. Same with city buses, and public attractions such as ice carvings park. The airports the student traveled through on a trip to Moscow looked to be clean and maintained.
        – University buildings are clean, albeit in some cases in need of paint.
        – Public cafes are well patronized. Street food stalls are numerous. Parks are in use.
        – The Far Eastern student is able to shop in a mall or in less expensive stores; the latter sell Chinese goods. These look to be equivalent to Wal-Mart level goods.
        – None of the hosts complain abt shortages, or lack of stuff.
        Not a pro analyst, but my eyes tell me that Mother Russia isn’t collapsing, no matter what the press says.

      • Aleksandr says:

        The German manufacturing sector is not what it used to be either. High end, overpriced and overly dependent on electronic gizmos. Anything but productive, if we compare and contrast with the East Asians, or even the US base. Not the sort of productive capacity that can support or sustain a peer to peer conflict. Not to mention the quality of militaries involved. Can’t see NATO doing much but parade ground duties, boots on the ground are not their forte.

  8. Russell says:

    This is one of the biggest mysteries. The super solidarity between Europe and the US in their confrontation with Russia cannot rest on politics, because in the back of European minds, the possibility exists that the US might later leave NATO. The solidarity seems to rest only on the moral plan. By moral plan I mean solidarity of democracies against autocracies, etc.

    This cannot last in my opinion. There are cleavages bubbling up even now on the frontier between Europe and the US. Perhaps the idea is to paper them over until actual “contained” hostilities can be made to break out. “Contained” means hostilities that can permit North Stream 2 to continue.

    Another point, if the US did leave NATO, it would have to reconfigure it’s economy away from armaments and hegemony to a more US centric system. What would this mean for the Eurodollar system? It seems the existence of Eurodollars is the reason why the US cannot influence US interest rates inside the US as it would like. This would be the greatest monetary experiment of modern times.

    I will now take myself to the woodshed and give myself the whiping……

  9. Lew Cooke says:

    As Glenn Greenwald pointed out:

    ”Trump spent 4 years attacking 2 core Russian vital interests: he 1) flooded Ukraine with lethal arms to fight Russia (which Obama refused to do) and 2) did everything to sabotage Moscow’s pipeline to Germany (which Biden allowed).”

  10. Oilman2 says:

    I’m going to second Seamus above – Trump, being second generation privileged class, was always controlled opposition in a carefully crafted populist suit. He called for change, and yet nothing much changed. His get-along policy on 2A issues was carefully kept low profile, speeches crafted to include God while never overtly praying – one can make a pretty good case he is elitist and simply pandered to the needs of a restless conservative base. Someone put me on their mailing list, and the things I get further reinforce this, IMO.

    Greenwald is right as well – Trump talking one thing and executing another was never 4-D chess – it was simple pandering and disinformation.

    Peacock – those nominations, including the SCOTUS picks, should open eyes all by themselves. And then claiming he could not execute his agenda because of the “deep state”? And he sat back and did very little to truly contest this last election – minions running around barking like chihuahuas….

    Beats Hillary is about the only positive thing

    • Carey says:

      > I’m going to second Seamus above – Trump, being second generation privileged class, was always controlled opposition in a carefully crafted populist suit <

      That's how I see Mr. Trump, as well.

    • Barbara Ann says:


      To be fair to Trump, including “God” in speeches still seems to be considered obligatory by all POTUS speechwriters, regardless of the religious inclinations of the WH occupant.

      My suspicions about the possibility of Trump’s controlled opposition status hardened after January 6th. Yes it is possible there just was no plan and the thing was a chaotic mess. But that calmly delivered (pre recorded?) speech to ask the crowd to disburse looked rehearsed. Did Trump cut a deal to retain his liberty in return for a final show? If so his role was as pied piper to deliver the Reichstag fire event that has so successfully demonized the Deplorables. In this version of events all the continued talk of prosecuting him may simply be an extended cover story.

      In any case, Trumpism would be best served by Trump endorsing another candidate this time around. The people need a new champion.

    • blue peacock says:


      The biggest tell was him not declassifying Russia Collusion hoax documents early on.

      He didn’t need anyone as Col. Lang has noted many times. He didn’t need Congress or the bureaucracy as that was his sole prerogative. Even worse Devin Nunes who was investigating the matter and said his hair was on fire gave him the list of documents and communications. He first ignored it and gave the excuse that his nominee Rosenstein who himself was conflicted as he signed the FISA affidavit recommended against it. Then he passes the buck to Barr to bury it. This action should speak louder than any words. This was the opportunity of a lifetime if one were truly opposed to the Deep State to completely expose them and allow the American people to see the extent of manipulation, malfeasance and flouting of all the basic principles of the Constitution and rule of law.

      Then of course was how he threw Flynn under the bus and let him hang. Compare to how Democrats & the Lawfare gang organized around all the Antifa/BLM rioters & looters and how Trump has treated the 1/6ers who were all his supporters.

      Either he was controlled opposition or he was gutless. There’s no other way to see it.

      • Eric Newhill says:

        I don’t think Trump was controlled opposition. Look at how they continue to seek means of utterly destroying him. They don’t do that to their friends, even when they easily could.

        IMO, Trump was in over his head- way outside of his comfort zone and realm of experience.

        As far as gutless, maybe here and there, maybe, but I think you’re way underestimating the amount of power and treachery aligned against him as well as the limited options he faced. You think he could just fire everyone in government at the wave of his hand and not cause mass turmoil with negative impacts all the way down to you and me? Who would he tap to fill the open positions? Who would have the institutional knowledge? The experience? He had to try to choose the lesser of evils from the swamp, but even the lesser evils were still evil enough to wreck him and keep the swamp green.

        • blue peacock says:


          Why do you think he didn’t declassify Russia Collusion? That’s a singular act that would have brought transparency into the workings of the Deep State and their partners in media and the political class. He didn’t need anyone’s permission or acceptance to do that, just his signature.

          That, IMO, is a reflection on his sincerity to Drain the Swamp. A major campaign slogan. He was given an extraordinary opportunity with Russia Collusion. That may not come along again for a while as they’ll cover their tracks better.

          • Eric Newhill says:

            I have no idea why he didn’t declassify Russian collusion related documents. There could be critical considerations of which we are unaware – or at least maybe Trump was convinced by his duplicitous advisors that was the case.

          • Deap says:

            At the time I suspected Trump became convinced, by probably insider self-serving motives, that release of exculpatory Russia Collusion intelligence documents would have violated sensitive Five Eyes relations, as well as intelligence gathering methods.

            Trump was naive, as most of us outsiders would have been, about the extent and range of the US intelligence community and its partners, even though Trump’s own gizzard was in the cross-hairs.

            I thought there might have been some nobility in Trump’s refusal to release those documents, but that may well be a huge over-statement on my part. Beyond my ken to speculate any more.

            Interesting the one other person who knew the whole game plan, Devin Nunes, is now Trump’s right hand man in Trump’s private sector media enterprise. Again, is this an honorable relationship or an attempt to hold future “enemies” closer than one’s own friends?

          • Fred says:


            Issue the order Trump! Everyone working for the federal government will just obey and release all those documents, just like you ordered! LOL.

            “He was given an extraordinary opportunity with Russia Collusion. ”

            Of course, that’s the source of all the congressioal support from Speaker Ryan! Hurray for the GOP! It’s not like two unrelenting years of that lie brought Pelosi the speakership and a couple more years gave us Biden the Popular.

          • Sam says:

            Issue the order Trump! Everyone working for the federal government will just obey and release all those documents, just like you ordered! LOL.


            That’s the excuse?? No one will listen to POTUS Trump’s order. Yet, please vote for him again so he can continue to be ineffective, lmao 🤣

        • English Outsider says:

          Eric, disregarding the theory, in practice the position of the President during that time was akin to the position of an English Prime Minister

          If the PM loses the confidence of the HoC he can be voted out at any time on a vote of no confidence.

          If the President falls foul of the legislature he can be similarly got rid of by impeachment. A clumsier method and more difficult but the same result.

          Wasn’t this the threat hanging over Trump for most of his Presidency? Ultimately he was at the mercy of Congress so could not depart too radically from what Congress would accept.

          The swamp had him by the throat from day one.

          • Eric Newhill says:

            Good point. It seems our radical democrats (just about all of them) de facto moved the US system towards being a parliamentary one.

  11. English Outsider says:

    Colonel Lang – unless I’m missing the point the interview with Colonel Macgregor matches your assessments during the Trump years and your remarks above. It covers the difficulties not only experienced by Trump but, Colonel Macgregor states, the difficulties resulting from Trump’s selection and control of his staff.

    It’s a pity, my view, that Trump didn’t get a second term. I don’t believe he’d have made the same mistakes twice. At any rate, the interview clears out of the way many of the misconceptions now current, at least in the UK, about his Presidency.

    I link to where Colonel Macgregor starts to consider the Trump Presidency. I don’t believe his earlier remarks about the makeup of the Ukrainian population are entirely accurate, or maybe he was simplifying to keep it short.

    • Deap says:

      I am of the mind if/when Trump gets a second term, it will be better served by having this ludicrous Biden interregnum. Had Trump won in 2020, it would have been four more awful years of the same dreck from both media, neocons, and Democrats. The spell of highly organized hate needed to be broken.

      The world is far more ready to welcome another Trump term now in 2024, than it would have been in 2020. Thank Democrats and Biden winning for over-reaching, underperforming and being just plain scary once they got back in power.

      Trump looks a lot saner now – not something that could be readily said in 2020. But he still needs to prove he has grown up and can face the opposition without leaving trails of revenge and spite.

      Trump has a few more years to earn new respect for understanding the fulsomeness of the role for all people; not just for his own image feedback in a mirror. He still retains gut resonance with a lot of Americans.

      Nixon managed a comeback – no reason Trump can not do a little more seasoning as well and grow a team so he is not so vulnerable to the forces inside the Beltway next time. Plus have more talent willing to sign on to his team in another term, which was virtually devoid in his early untested days coming in directly from private enterprise. Trump will have had four years plus to evaluate who was a good player and who needs to be kept at arm’s length.

      Nothing succeeds like excess when it comes to the current honestly earned revulsion of Democrats. At least this current brand of take no prisoners Democrats.

      Biden splashed cold water on any lingering romanticized version of JFK or even LBJ brand Democrats, who both inspired and put in sweeping national programs (albeit often abject failures in retrospect). We know in fact they were our grand-daddy’s FDR Democrats; not today’s hateful, free spending hypocrites, public sector union lackies and downright scary hate America Democrats.

      I agree a second Trump term is not a given, but if there is a second Trump term I suspect it will be a heck of a lot better than the first and the first really did have some excellent moments.

      And build the damn Wall – get this first necessary step for immigration reform off the table. Secure our borders so we can feel more secure in our homes. There is a lot of free-roaming crime hitting a lot of us now, dispersing out into the neighborhoods, thefts and break-ins – one sense a lot of new people have arrived with no way they can be absorbed into the background wall paper they way they could pre=covid. At least in California.

  12. different clue says:

    When I read the assertion-as-a-proven-fact that Russia has put some secret people into Ukraine to launch a false-flag attack against Russia to provide a pretext for Russian invasion of Ukraine; my first thought was, is and remains that actually the NATO-West has ( or knows that Ukraine has) some secret people in Ukraine whose mission will be to launch a double-false-flag attack on Russia designed to look as if it is done by Russians disguised as Ukrainians. When actually if it happens it will be done by Ukrainians disguised as Russians-badly-disguised-as-Ukrainians.

    And the hidden propaganda-masters are preparing the battle-brainspace to accept the ” false-flag Russians diddit” narrative if/when the attack is made.

    • mcohen says:

      They probably went in late last year.Anyway we are fast approaching a planned major disruption of western strategic interests.The groundwork has been done aided by covid.Nato is right to go on a more aggressive footing to respond to civil disruptions in countries like Germany France Poland Lithuania.If that happens then Ukraine will turn into a full scale civil war that will see the rise of breakaway regions.That my own opinion.Nothing more.

  13. Les Priest says:

    I have read several good sources that say Russia’s economy is bigger than it appears: Certain military stuff is off-book. If NATO was over, gormless Euros would have to pay for their own defence, other defence companies in the USA would see their order books shrink. Such a shame that would be.

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