William Lind describes why NATO is a drag

Summary: We have bought a house, so our time as homeless vagabonds will end soon. Meanwhile, William Lind explains hidden truths about the real cost to our membership in NATO. Obvious truths that journalists seldom mention — because it would quench the new Cold War hysteria.

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The Real Cost of NATO

By William S. Lind.
From Traditional Right • 18 July 2018.
Posted with his generous permission.

President Trump is right to raise the issue of Europe’s NATO members not spending enough on defense. For decades, those countries have been NATO’s welfare queens, expecting the U.S. to defend them when they have been entirely capable of defending themselves. They’ve had the ships, they’ve had the men, they’ve had the money, too. Since the 1960s they have also had their own nuclear umbrella in the form of France’s nuclear weapons. Quite apart from the American deterrent, the Soviet Union could not risk invading Western Europe because a nuclear exchange with France would have reduced the USSR to a tenth-rate power, unable to compete with America or even China.  

But why should Europe’s welfare queens go off the dole so long as America is dumb enough to keep paying the bill? President Trump is doing what earlier American presidents should have done but didn’t, mainly because the Washington Military-Industrial-Congressional complex feeds richly off the NATO game.

But mere billions of wasted dollars are not the principal cost of NATO to the United States.  Greater is the strategic price we pay for NATO: it locks us into an obsolete grand strategic orientation.

To Russia, with Love: NATO breaks its deal with Russia

NATO was formed for only one purpose: containing Communism.  After World War II, Europe was exhausted.  It lacked the military, financial, or industrial strength to take on the Red Army or even Soviet attempts at subversion such as that in Greece.  The U.S. made what was intended to be a temporary commitment to defend Europe, a commitment that was intended to last only until Europe could again defend itself.  When NATO was founded, then-General Dwight D. Eisenhower said that if we were still defending Europe after ten years, NATO would have proven a mistake.  That was seventy years ago.

When Communism fell, NATO’s purpose fell with it.  There was no threat from the east for NATO to defend against.  At that point NATO should have been dissolved.  Failing such a dissolution, the U.S. should have pulled out, leaving Europe to defend itself against—what?

Europe did, and does, face a threat, one at least as dangerous as Communism: the threat from the south.  The new enemy is Islam, the invaders are labelled “refugees” or “asylum-seekers”, and they come armed with a violent religion, defective cultures, or both.  Immigrants who cannot or will not acculturate are a greater threat than invading armies.  The armies eventually go home, but immigrants stay and permanently change the cultural landscape, often in highly undesirable ways.  European women will not enjoy living under Sharia.

In re-orienting to the south, Europe should have either formed a new alliance including Russia or invited Russia into NATO.  Russia holds Christendom’s vast flank that stretches from the Black Sea to Vladivostok.  Should that flank collapse, the West would suffer a defeat at least as damaging as the fall of Constantinople to the Turks.  Thanks to President Putin’s efforts to strengthen the Russian state, that now seems unlikely. 

But Western elites’ ideology of cultural Marxism forbids them to acknowledge the threat from the south: to do so is to reject “multiculturalism” and embrace “racism”.  Cultural Marxism welcomes any and all allies in its battle to destroy Western culture and the Christian religion, even allies such as Islam that will cut the cultural Marxists’ own throats.

So instead those elites have moved heaven and earth to re-start the Cold War, again presenting Russia as a threat, which is absurd.  It is to be expected that Russia will seek to reabsorb areas on her periphery that were historically part of the Russian Empire, especially those which have a predominantly Russian population.  But this is no threat to Europe or the United States.  The likelihood of Russian divisions again rolling into Berlin is small.

President Trump senses that NATO’s anti-Russian orientation is strategically wrong, and he wants normal relations between Moscow and Washington.  Yet both his Secretary of Defense and his Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have proclaimed that the U.S. armed forces are to de-emphasize the real threat, which comes from Fourth Generation, non-state elements of many kinds, and instead puff up nonexistent dangers from Russia and China.  Why such strategic lunacy from obviously intelligent men?  Because Fourth Generation war does not justify vast defense budgets.  The demands of the Military-Industrial-Complex complex trump strategy — unless President Trump trumps the M-I-C game.


Editor’s note

Eastern Europe has sufficient resources to defend against Russia. Western Europe is far richer than Russia. Neither needs us. Perhaps the nations of Europe are not “welfare queens” and that they do not spend more to defend against Russia because they do not see Russia as a serious threat.

For another perspective on this, see Craig Murray (former ambassador of the UK): “No Need For Nato.

William Lind

About the author

William S. Lind’s director of the American Conservative Center for Public Transportation. He has a Master’s Degree in History from Princeton University in 1971. He worked as a legislative aide for armed services for Senator Robert Taft, Jr., of Ohio from 1973 to1976 and held a similar position with Senator Gary Hart of Colorado from 1977 to 1986. See his bio at Wikipedia

Mr. Lind is author of the Maneuver Warfare Handbook (1985), co-author with Gary Hart of America Can Win: The Case for Military Reform (1986), and co-author with William H. Marshner of Cultural Conservatism: Toward a New National Agenda (1987).

He’s perhaps best known for his articles about the long war, now published as On War: The Collected Columns of William S. Lind 2003-2009. See his other articles about a broad range of subjects…

  1. Posts at TraditionalRight.
  2. His articles about geopolitics at The American Conservative.
  3. His articles about transportation at The American Conservative.

For More Information

Ideas! For shopping ideas, see my recommended books and films at Amazon.

If you found this post of use, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about William Lind’s work, about NATO, about our Cold Wars, about military reform, and especially these…

  1. How the Soviet Menace was over-hyped – and what we can learn from this.
  2. Let’s stop the 2-minute hate on Putin & think before we reignite the Cold War.
  3. How the world looks from Russia. It’s a picture the US media don’t show.
  4. Notes from the Victory Parade in Moscow about our amnesia, & peace.
  5. Did NATO betray Russia, breaking the deal to stay out of Eastern Europe?

To better understand our mad foreign policy

"Washington Rules" by Andrew Bacevich
Available at Amazon.

Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War.
By Andrew Bacevich (2010).
From the publisher…

“The bestselling author of The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism critically examines the Washington consensus on national security and why it must change

“For the last half century, as administrations have come and gone, the fundamental assumptions about America’s military policy have remained unchanged: American security requires the United States (and us alone) to maintain a permanent armed presence around the globe, to prepare our forces for military operations in far-flung regions, and to be ready to intervene anywhere at any time. In the Obama era, just as in the Bush years, these beliefs remain unquestioned gospel.

“In a vivid, incisive analysis, Andrew J. Bacevich succinctly presents the origins of this consensus, forged at a moment when American power was at its height. He exposes the preconceptions, biases, and habits that underlie our pervasive faith in military might, especially the notion that overwhelming superiority will oblige others to accommodate America’s needs and desires – whether for cheap oil, cheap credit, or cheap consumer goods. And he challenges the usefulness of our militarism as it has become both unaffordable and increasingly dangerous.

“Though our politicians deny it, American global might is faltering. This is the moment, Bacevich argues, to reconsider the principles which shape American policy in the world – to acknowledge that fixing Afghanistan should not take precedence over fixing Detroit. Replacing this Washington consensus is crucial to America’s future, and may yet offer the key to the country’s salvation.”


23 thoughts on “William Lind describes why NATO is a drag”

  1. Eastern Europe has sufficient resources to defend against Russia.

    Needs some evidence to be credible.

    I suspect, though I have no evidence either, that the Russians, if they set their mind to it, and if the US did not intervene, could be at the Channel within a month. Maybe there is evidence that the former satelite countries would be a match for them. It will take more than a bare assertion to persuade, though.

    Is it a risk? Who knows? We insure against fire not because the risk is high, but because the cost is so high, even if the risk is low.

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor


      “Needs some evidence to be credible.”

      Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia have a combined GNP as large as Russia’s, on a nominal basis.

      On a purchasing power parity basis, those nations plus the Baltic States have a GDP as large as Russia’s.

      On a PPP basis, the combined GDP of all NATO states is 12 times that of Russia.

      “I suspect, though I have no evidence either, that the Russians, if they set their mind to it, and if the US did not intervene, could be at the Channel within a month.”

      First, you’re dreaming (or listening to silly propaganda). The Russian military is a wreck.

      Also, why? They owned Eastern Europe and found it a drag, and gave it up. It’s an obsolete economic mode.

      More important, no large conqueror has won in Europe since the modern age began with the Treaties of Westphalia in 1648.

    2. I believe if you follow the link in the Editor’s Note to the article written by Craig Murray, he says, “Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia alone have a combined GNP as big as Russia. On a purchasing power parity basis, if you add in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania those Eastern states still match Russia economically. On a PPP basis, the combined GDP of all NATO states is 12 times that of Russia.”

      Although the author has no sources linked in his article, some moderate Googling corroborates his claim. Also, as Mr. Lind point s out in the main body of this post, “Since the 1960s they have also had their own nuclear umbrella in the form of France’s nuclear weapons.”

      So with a European nuclear deterrent and the GDP to outpace a hypothetical Russian military buildup, the question remains: What is the point of NATO?

    3. “So with a European nuclear deterrent and the GDP to outpace a hypothetical Russian military buildup, the question remains: What is the point of NATO?”

      – Control and influence

      – a widely available, enormous market indebted to you

      – more specifically a huge, dependent market for all things military, tailored by the norms and specifications imposed by NATO itself to suit American suppliers. Otherwise it is a “bad” military material, a “bad” doctrine, a “bad” procedure…. The NATO stamp of approval is mandatory if you want to be in the club and be seen doing stuff with the big boys

      – a force multiplier for a wide array of foreign policy adventures, and a big piece in Russia’s containment (even if it is not really a gigantic force able to go through the Fulda gap anymore). The fear of Russia in eastern Europe is a political constant that can easily be instrumented in that regards. Poland and the Baltic states have recently shown they are ready for anything.

      1. Larry Kummer, Editor


        I agree with most of that, but not this:

        “a widely available, enormous market indebted to you”

        In what sense do European’s feel “indebted” to us? How is this expressed?

    4. “In what sense do European’s feel “indebted” to us? How is this expressed?”

      I should have formulated it differently: “dependent” on you would be a better way to put it. “Partially made to be dependent” could also be used. But it is not entirely satisfactory (I guess I can’t find the right word) as it does not really reflect both the subtle and not so subtle ways American influence in Europe is maintained and further developed.

      Part of it even relies on the use of “soft power” on a long period of time, that has resulted in a certain mindset in many countries and many parts of European ruling classes (and the European ruling class, now a thing, yet still partially distinct from the national stages), one that has created that sense of “indebtedness” (for lack of a better word). It stems from WWII, has been developed during the cold war along with the passing of political generations and the weaving of social and economic networks, it has been reinforced with the groupthink created and nurtured around the neoliberal consensus since the 80s (that infects, for example, the teachings in all business schools -I should know) and even more since the 90s (and the eastern economic transitions). In the end, Mixed with the overall “atlanticism” bend, it is still really powerful: you won’t find a political arena in Europe where the “atlantists” are not heavyweights (in some countries even more than in others).

      When I worked in Parliament, the representative I worked for was knee deep in Foreign Policy and in charge of coordination with NATO (France had not yet come back to the Integrated Command in those days, the “O” part in NATO, which it had exited in 1966): the guy was a Gaullist (very much for the NAT, very not for the O), an alumni of the Resistance (not the Hillary Clinton version) and the Gladio networks in the bad old days. He regularly fulminated that most classified documents in government (save for the very ultra sensitive ones) found their way to the US ambassador’s desk within the hour of their printing, long before they made it to almost any French official’s. This was not the result of an intelligence operation, or blackmail, or anything else; it was just so much of an habit for many people in many departments to send these that nobody really questioned it anymore, particularly at the Quai d’Orsay (ministry of Foreign Affairs) where the Atlantist lobby was very present. And France is very far from being the most US-oriented nation in Europe.

      My point was that this overall “dependency” is in no small part ingrained up to the very psychology and habits of a huge part of the deciders and government organizations on the continent. It goes a lot further than just a pragmatic choice to bend for this or that political option in any situation. From an American standpoint, it is a great result of long term policy, to get such a result,to be such a part of the landscape. For Europe? It tends to get more than a bit invasive, and something of a mental condition, to some level.

    5. Larry, the issue is not GDP. The issue is tanks and planes.

      The Russian military was a wreck, but its not any more, its been rebuilding well.

      Why did the Soviet Union collapse? Not because Russia got tired of it. Because the nomenklatura stopped believing in the model. The liberation of the satellite countries was not down to a decision that they were too much trouble. It happened because the moral collapse in the center meant meant that the Russian political establishment were no longer willing to give the orders.

      As to the French deterrent, France would use it to defend France. They would not use it or even threaten to use it in the effort to preserve free Hungary or Czecho.

      1. Larry Kummer, Editor


        “the issue is not GDP. The issue is tanks and planes.”

        Absurdly — almost madly — false. Weapons are a discretionary purchase. Eastern Europe — let alone Eastern plus Western Europe — have the capacity to build a military far larger than Russia’s. If they believed it was necessary.

        I am amazed at the need to point this out to you.

        “As to the French deterrent, France would use it to defend France. ”

        Even more foolish. Germany could build nukes in a few years, if they felt the need. They have the technology to do so.

  2. There is the politics of NATO in a nutshell: Washington wants the Europeans to beef up their defense spending (in this “dollar for defense” mentality that gets so much things wrong), but wouldn’t really like it if they did it on a really significant level. As it stands, rising these budgets would mean that European countries would very much like most of that money to stay home and profit their own armament industries, not feed the beast in the US. If the series bought are small enough, there is only a limited number of productions that can be done in Europe; if that scale change, no “buy American”, and yes to home made products.

    The big problem with NATO is the major size difference between the main partner and the rest: no European country (or Canada) is even remotely on the same size scale, so none can beef up its spending and forces and suddenly be able to really weigh by itself in the conversation. That makes the investment pointless: better to be a semi protectorate than to spend vast sums that will only make one a better factotum of Washington, and certainly not an independent actor. That’s the equation most European countries have to deal with: most additional sum invested in defense tends to serve the US more than it serves them. And there is no threshold within their reach that would give them any semblance of strategic autonomy, including on the arms manufacturing side of things (for the really strategic productions). France, England and Germany are the only one even remotely close to escaping that equation somewhat, but the vastly increasing costs of the arms race (even if not done in the spendthrift Pentagone manner) has changed many scales, which, with the new US president and the impact his attitude has had on European leadership, means that the only way to escape this conundrum is to organize production on a European scale…..

    A thing that proves quite problematic, because, despite constant speeches on the matter, multiple “initiatives” and organizations (most as useless as can be), it would need a real foreign policy on that scale, and real European armed forces adapted to said policy. Nobody really believes in that, despite the big speeches and the endless urges that “we need to”. No soldier wants to die for the European flag, no country really wants to relinquish that much sovereignty to an unknown thing, and there are too many divergent strategic priorities on the continent.

    1. That is really interesting, I never really thought about it like that, although it makes perfect sense, that is why exports are so vital for the national arms development and procurement. At the last NATO meeting, after Trump had finished haranguing the other NATO leaders, he launched into a rambling sales pitch for US weaponry (the best, really tremendous ect). By the end of it I came to realize that Trump only wanted a bigger NATO budget so we would buy more US weaponry, I guess its another way of bringing the budget deficit down.

  3. Yet both his Secretary of Defense and his Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have proclaimed that the U.S. armed forces are to de-emphasize the real threat, which comes from Fourth Generation, non-state elements of many kinds, and instead puff up nonexistent dangers from Russia and China. Why such strategic lunacy from obviously intelligent men? Because Fourth Generation war does not justify vast defense budgets. The demands of the Military-Industrial-Complex complex trump strategy — unless President Trump trumps the M-I-C game.

    Exactly. More importantly, the U.S. militaru, due to its institutional nature, is and always will be culturally unable to adapt to the nature of 4GW, with its decentralization, lack of anythig resembling an authoritative verticle hierarchy, and reliance on the individual warfighter’s initiative and flexibility. It remains an open question as to whether this could all change if the political will was there for it to happen. Clearly the ongoing defeat of second generation U.S. forces in in Third World countries across the globe isn’t providing that motivation.

  4. There are many aspects mentioned in this article, which from a European point of view are hard to be considered valid points in a debate on NATO’s existence eligibility. How much is spent on defense is a valid question. A fair comparison is not easy, and to some extent, the current American view is from my point of view a comparison of apples and bananas. US has a large military budget, but also for purposes that have nothing to do with NATO. USA maintain a large military infra structure, including hospitals, veteran care etc. Things which in the European States are not paid over the defense budget – though paid. There is one of the mentioned points which are especially important – “Europe did, and does, face a threat, one at least as dangerous as Communism: the threat from the south. The new enemy is Islam, the invaders are labelled “refugees” or “asylum-seekers”, and they come armed with a violent religion, defective cultures, or both. Immigrants who cannot or will not acculturate are a greater threat than invading armies. The armies eventually go home, but immigrants stay and permanently change the cultural landscape, often in highly undesirable ways. European women will not enjoy living under Sharia.” The author tries to point out that the Europeans do not understand their own situation and is not recognizing the “real” threat.
    The interesting point is how did this new threat arise. There the American foreign policy since Bush has had a big impact. The unlawful attack on Iraq has left the region destabilized. Several failed states have raised from this process. Further, never forget how Americans was fighting a dirty war in Europe partly supported by some of the European states using its military infra structure; bases outside European control on European soil. How real this war on terror was, is difficult to judge. The applied means was often not lawful and includes the creation of Guantanamo and the use of torture. That the NATO partners have different views and interests are clear. It is also clear that if an analysis is made partial, the outcome becomes irrelevant. I think that this description can be used on the presented article. In a partnership you can focus on the differences. If there are no common interests, then the logical solution is a “divorce”. I have difficulties following a lot of American political views, however at least until now the American democracy has proven strong and capable of meeting the challenges of the world. Therefore, I still see US as a natural partner for Europe despite the views of the present Administration. Partners must make allowances for differences in views. It is a little sad that the present American Administration has adopted the old Russian thinking that there are no win-win situations. If you win I loose. This Russian view has always made relations with Russia difficult. The big issue is that this might not be the view of the Administration alone however it is reflecting the views of many Americans (electors). The future can be difficult relations between natural allies.

  5. I basically agree except for the Islamophobia part. Somehow I doubt France or Germany that are like 5 percent nonwhite are on the verge of “sharia”. You don’t think at least some of these immigrants from Muslim countries are secular or become secularized or subscribe to a non wahabbi version of Islam? Europe has a declining population, businesses want the workers. The impacts for native populations are mixed, immigration can drive down wages. The “cultural issues” largely nonsense. From an American perspective I guess I am used to diversity, I kind of welcome new interesting restaurants to eat at.

    1. It’s the Syrians now; when that “Camp of Saints” book about how heroic it was to sink boats of refugees was written, it was the Indians. In twenty years it will probably be Ghanans or Uighurs. Leaving aside the argument on cultural change due to influx, I think some of this is the “Disco Stu” effect: “If these trends continue… heyyy!!” (Everyone will buy disco records; Japan will be sixteen old people squatting in Tokyo; Nigeria will have 1.5 billion people, all of them in acute starvation; the entire population of Turkey will come to the UK; etc.)

      There will certainly be more of a cultural gulf to bridge in Europe than there was in the USA with the Irish and Italians.

    2. This is one of many big misconceptions about immigration in Europe in general in France in particular, that one hears from certain parts of the media (the others being those that speak of immigration as the second coming): the proportion of muslims is not that high, and most are quite well assimilated, do not pose any kind of problems, are often very much “secularized”, and -that much for “replacement theory”- have similar fecundity rates as the rest of the population (as soon as the second generation). In France, some things are harder to know precisely because it is forbidden to make a census taking race or religion into account, but most of it can be known nonetheless, and is far from being as alarming as so easily claimed here or there.

      There is a deforming lens put on a very specific part of the population and the country that lives in certain suburbs of big cities. But, all in all, these sensitive areas represent less than 8% of the total population, and a significant chunk of them are in the overseas territories. They concentrate a lot of the classical problems we see in the post-industrial world and reflect what often happens to those that arrived last in a country, especially when the bulk of arrivals occurred at the end of the post war growth and the industrial era (70s and 80s). Around 4,5 millions people (population of France: 65 millions) live in such areas, and most of them are not muslim or ethnic ghettos. Some are, and concentrate an inordinate amount of handicaps and problematic behaviors, and the term “no go zone” is somewhat warranted for a few of them. But in the vast majority of these suburbs, even the really problematic ones, most people are just trying to get by. It often irks me to see the stereotypical portrait made of this, and the absurd level of generalization that results. The hyperconcentration around big urban centers tends to help the usual impression.

      As for the specific case of Islam in France, numbers vary widely but often mix things up: when one mentions 8 millions, generally to cause panic or make a point, one confounds many things. That number reflects in fact the people coming from (or descending from people coming from) countries where the dominant religion is Islam. That includes people from other religions (for example, there is a big Lebanese diaspora dating back to the 70s and 80s, mostly christians, but thus included in that count) or people fleeing religious excesses. That also includes “potential” muslims simply because at least one of their parents is muslim, and people identifying as muslims but not practicing. The level of observance is not really high (most have a low level), and tends to decrease with the generations passing, the few sensitive suburbs often highlighted in reporting being somewhat a counter-example where radicalization and extreme identitarism become ever more the rule. All in all, there are 4 millions or less identifying as muslims (300 to 400 000 overseas, mostly in Mayotte), with very diverse levels of religious observance.

      The main problem is the excessive focus on very specific areas where truly bothering stuff (sometimes downright terrifying) happens. And, by a parallel token, the under-focus on some level of political cowardice in addressing these problems (a contaminated public scene).

      1. Larry Kummer, Editor


        “do not pose any kind of problems, are often very much “secularized”, and -that much for “replacement theory”

        I doubt that is true in any meaningful sense. You are generalizing from the past to the future, with great confidence (as usually so). That’s one of the big reasons that forecasts are usually wrong. Conditions are changing.

        First, immigrants are not, despite the media’s narrative, a unitary category. Nor are Muslim immigrants. Immigrants from failed states are not necessarily like those from pre- or post-Colonial Algeria (for example).

        Also, problems tend to arise with the second and third generations. The first gen wanted to be there, after all. The later generations benchmark their conditions not vs. the old country but vs. the standards of their new home.

        As their number rise — as is happening now — later generations might attempt to transplant their Islamic culture. It’s the height of arrogance to think that everybody must accept our idea of multiculturalism — ie, supremacy of western values.

  6. The Man Who Laughs

    I believe that Lind’s assessment of Eastern Europe’s ability to defend against Russian aggression is correct. The Russian army, historically, has a poor track record of offensive operations early in a war. In the offensive operations that Russia has mounted since the end of the Cold War, they have tended to cobble together a number of separate units form among the very limited number of formations that are anything like combat ready. Georgia case in point. And I’m not sure they’d ever want to see the Channel coast except as tourists, because they have enough problems with restive Muslim populations as is.

    Standard disclaimer: I haven’t worn a uniform since Boy Scouts. This is the old military history buff/ hex wargamer talking.

    The world has changed. The foreign policy/defense establishment can feel it in the water, They feel it in the Earth. They smell it in the air. And they refuse to adapt to it.

    1. I don’t know Larry, I think you should give the guy some credit, he lives in France, and seems to have thought quite deeply about the issue. Having traveled around Europe quite a bit its my impression as well. Sometimes I find it hard to recognize the Europe I living in, to its portrayal in the US media. The left seem to idealize it, the right its some kind of Muslim ghetto.

      Now a personal anecdote, a couple of weeks ago I was in Berlin for the weekend with the boys (sans wife and kid) Me and a buddy got chatting to to a couple of French guys in a club, they turned out to be lovers from Marseilles visiting for the weekend. One of the guys was second generation Tunisian. For many Muslims Europe is a liberation. I’ve meet a lot of Muslim people on my travels in England, especially. Most of them second and third generation, they were all just regular people, they never blabbed on about religion or anything like that. They were normal people, just getting on with there lives, if anything they were equipped with the usual English prejudices. If your only point of reference is the internet, you get a distorted view. It is not a coincidence that the countries that are further to the right on Muslim immigration have the least. You fear what you don’t know.

      1. Larry Kummer, Editor


        I’m sure he is correct about the past. Just because he lives there, that doesn’t mean he is interested in looking to the future. The assumption that conditions can change radically yet the society remain little changed is too daft to deserve serious consideration.

      2. Larry Kummer, Editor


        “Now a personal anecdote …”

        I usually stop there. Visiting nice middle class and upper class establishments tells a visitor almost nothing about a society. Almost every revolution surprises the nice people in the State department who live there, but visit only the gentile parts of the society.

        Visit the slums of Edinborough or the great ring cities around Paris, then report back. Those are the engines of social change.

  7. OT and @Fabius: I’m glad you are OK. Was this a planned move or is it related to the fires in CA? I had been briefly worried because there had been no updates for a week.

  8. When I heard about Trump’s demand that NATO pay its fair share of military defense costs, I had a similar thought as Mr Lind: “Defense against what?”
    It seems to me, that in the 21st century all major nations are nothing worse than economic competitors. It seems to me none of them would be military enemies with each other for the foreseeable future.

    George, in two separate comments above, says:
    “the Russians … could be at the Channel within a month … the issue is not GDP. The issue is tanks and planes.”
    That might be true, but why would they do that? What could they gain besides a little ego boost after parts of a map briefly change color?
    The US might likewise be able to conquer parts of Mexico using tanks and planes, but why would the US do that?

    When I was a kid, I remember playing the board game ‘Risk’
    But the world today is not a board game, where the goal is to move pieces around and earn points by acquiring territory.
    And yet here we are, spending monumental amounts of money, defending against the possibility that we do live in such a board game.

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