Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks on the state of affairs with NATO during the Atlantic Council at the Ritz Carlton in Washington, USA on April 6, 2016.
April 07, 2016| Credit: Anadolu Agency
Jens Stolenberg speaking before the Atlantic Council on April 6, 2016, made encouraging noises for the United States and the advocates of the establishment view that the NATO alliance is the right wing of the American imperial project. Japan and the Asian Alliance being the left wing. Stoltenberg argued for increased defense spending on the part of NATO members to their 2% commitments (A Conversations with NATO Secretary General 2016).
“Only Poland this year joined the four other countries, out of 28 total NATO members, that are meeting the alliance’s goal of spending 2% of their gross domestic product on defense. The other four are the U.S., Great Britain, Greece and Estonia.Overall, six countries are raising and six are cutting their military spending as a proportion GDP this year when compared with 2014, and the rest are staying the same” (Bendavid 2015, np).
The lack of unity among the NATO members in their commitment to become the tool for policy generated largely from Washington, DC is evident in these numbers. Wishful thinking on the part of Stoltenberg is largely driven by a desire to reassure the US Congress which he had spoken before earlier in the day. The presence of the Secretary General at the Atlantic Council at which he pointedly refused to be baited into commenting on the statements of some of the American Presidential Candidates, should be interpreted in my view, based on the prologue to the question “wild ideas spouted by some of the candidates” as being a polemic to provide an oblique comment on the commentary of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Bernie Sanders, leaving Hillary Clinton and perhaps John Kasich would be acceptable.
Regarding the Cruz team, they are a mix of NeoCons and Rigt wing Extremists like “Frank Gaffney, a former Reagan administration Pentagon official who has emerged as a lightning rod in the Obama era, accused by the Southern Poverty Law Center of being one of the nation’s leading Islamophobes” (Lake 2016, np). To the left, in Republican terms is Eliot Abrams from the Bush Administration who advises against demonizing Islam, as well as Mary Habeck an expert on Jihadist organizations who advocates a more moderate stance also. Victoria Coates is Cruz’s main foreign policy advisor. She apparently deliberately included the rabid Islamophobes with the more traditional Neocons, bringing the debate to a much harder line than has been the norm in recent Republican administrations.
Looking at Donald Trump there is marked move away from the top ranks of the foreign policy establishment. “The advisors he has enlisted appear to have spent little to no time as policymakers, and of those who have served in the military, few have top-level experience. One has been consistently condemned by Muslim rights groups and another was investigated while working as the Pentagon’s inspector general” (Lee 2016, np). The members include Keith Kellog who works in intelligence and security firms. Carter Page an investments firm manager who wrote a blog post that is similar to the chickens coming home to roost argument made famous by Malcolm X and that got Ward Churchill in so much trouble. George Papadopoulos is “a director at the London Centre of International Law Practice. In its mission statement, the group views global issues with a “promotion of peace,” which falls into accord with Trump’s noninterventionist approach” (Lee 2016, np). He also was an economic advisor for the Ben Carson campaign. Also Walid Phares professor at George Washington University with controversial links to Christian Militias in Lebanon accused of massacres of Muslims. He defends some of Trumps rhetoric as in this quote from NPR “Mr. Trump, because we are in a political season, he’s making those statements, but when he will come to the White House … then he’s going be tasking experts to answer that question, and I’m not sure that the experts are going to recommend any form of torture” (Phares cited by Lee 2016).
There are also a number of former military with service in the field as well as a Silver Star recipient Bert Mizusawa. Joseph Schmitz the former Pentagon Inspector General has been accused of blocking investigations of Bush administration officials during his tenure. This group is a mixed bag of possibly interesting out of the box thinkers, but none of them are as Lee states, top level operatives in the Washington establishment.
Sanders has still been somewhat reluctant to release information regarding his foreign policy team. Larry Korb “a defense policy expert at the Center for American Progress” (Crowley 2016, np), has been offered a position according to this Politico article but there is not much more on it He served in the Reagan administration. Another Bill French, a policy analyst at the left-leaning National Security Network” has become a foreign policy staffer. Bill French, a policy analyst at the left-leaning National Security Network” (Crowley 2016), as a foreign policy staffer. Lawrence Wilkerson the former aide to Secretary of State Colin Powell, has also been helping the Sanders campaign. He is a well known critic of the invasion of Iraq. Speaking about the CIA’s past activities Sanders said “The CIA plays an important role,” he added. “But have they done things which they should not have done on behalf of the United States government? Absolutely” (Crowley 2016). He is a critical voice but represents a position that seems to be not much further to the left of President Obama, a critical realist who has renounced his 1974 view that the CIA should be abolished.
Hilary and Kasich representing more main stream views will not be subject to discussion at this point. I would only add that Sanders and Trump take a more conservative position regarding foreign policy while in my view Ted Cruz has the more extreme interventionist view, perhaps even more hawkish than Clinton although not the hawk that his erstwhile rival Rubio was.
A Conversation with NATO Secretary General H.E. Jens Stoltenberg. April 6, 2016 - 4:00 pm. Atlantic Council. Accessed 9 April 2016. http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/events/upcoming-events/detail/a-conversation-with-nato-secretary-general-he-jens-stoltenberg
Bendavid, Naftali June 22, 2015 9:03 a.m. ET Just Five of 28 NATO Members Meet Defense Spending Goal, Report Says
Report comes amid concern over Russia’s growing military assertiveness. Wall Street Journal. Accessed 9 April 2016. http://www.wsj.com/articles/nato-calls-for-rise-in-defence-spending-by-alliance-members-1434978193.
Crowley, Michael. 02/24/16 04:10 PM EST Updated 02/24/16 04:48 PM EST/ Sanders reaches out for foreign-policy help. Politico. Accessed 9 April 2016. http://www.politico.com/story/2016/02/bernie-sanders-foreign-policy-help-219744#ixzz45PpgOmcS.
Lake, Eli. March 17, 2016 6:00 AM EST. Cruz Assembles an Unlikely Team of Foreign-Policy Rivals. Bloomberg View. Accessed 9 April 2016. http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2016-03-17/cruz-assembles-an-unlikely-team-of-foreign-policy-rivals
Lee, Kurtis. 7 April 2016. 3: AM. Here’s who Donald Trump is taking foreign policy advice from. Los Angeles Times. Accessed 9 April 2016. http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/la-na-trump-foreign-policy-team-20160407-htmlstory.html