By Michael Nickerson
I agree with Donald Trump. Bet that got your attention. It’s a bit like saying you agree with the reasoning of a crazed weasel hopped up on methamphetamine with a dash of hot sauce. And to be clear, I have nothing against weasels, methamphetamine, or hot sauce when taken in moderation. If nothing else, weasels are cute and quite entertaining, at least on television.
Donald Trump can also be quite entertaining on television; ratings don’t lie. He can also be a misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic frat boy with the instincts of a privileged child and the world view to match. Vainglorious and all the insecurity that entails, he lashes out at the slightest provocation and will stoop to just about any level for public approval. An embarrassment, a cad, a clown. You might go to one of his parties but would never invite him to one of yours.
Of course, he’s also been elected President of the United States of America.
It was a shocking result to be sure. I still haven’t heard from some family and friends since that night, and I’m quite concerned … they might have choked on their “Hillary for Prez!” party dip. But not being Muslim, Latino, black, gay, female or anything other than a white privileged male, I’m okay. I’m good. And not being an American citizen, I’m even hopeful.
And no, I have not invested in Trump the walking trademark, nor drank from a bottle of Ivanka Energy Plus™ (I made that up, but this being the era of post-truth, I’m happy to accept some royalties if it goes anywhere). What I have seen is not so much the end, but the beginning of a proper shakeup of an institution that has long outlived its welcome.
Yes, NATO. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, established in 1949 to save the Free World from the Communist Menace. Also entirely obsolete and without purpose for the last 25 years, a rebel without a cause, but with a lot of fire power and a need for acceptance; a bit like the U.S. president-elect when you think of it. Hmm.
Nope, let’s stay hopeful! Right. So the soon-to-be leader of the free world has NATO leaders and generals alike shaking in their gender-neutral footwear, scared he’ll call their tab or just close the bar and head home. Pay up or I’m out of here, you out-dated freeloaders! You’ve been riding on America’s coattails too long! That America has been wearing the coat and charting the course the whole time is neither here nor there. Just pay your 2 per cent GDP or you’re fired! And leave my friend Vlad alone … just a fabulous, fabulous guy.
Now remember: weasel on meth. No one said this would actually make sense. Stronger NATO, allied with Russia, pass the pipe. The whole idea of asking 23 of 28 member nations to pony up and, in most cases, double their defence spending while nodding politely to Vladimir Putin as he bombs Syria to dust does indeed seem nuts. It certainly had delegates at the recent international security conference in Halifax abuzz waiting for the new king-elect to clear things up on Twitter.
Conversely, letting a dinosaur of an organization lay waste to parts of the Middle East and Eastern Europe for reasons of existential angst and industrial greed seems a tad nuttier in many people’s books. But that has been the status quo for more than two decades, up to and including Team Justin™ committing troops and equipment this past summer to help flex NATO muscle in Latvia. Whether that commitment was for ideological reasons on Trudeau’s part or political expediency during the bromance that was Trudeaubama no one is quite sure, and that really is the point.
So I’m indeed with Trump in the sense that the whole NATO relationship is in need of a rethink. I’m also of the opinion that the whole U.S. Electoral College is in need of a rethink, and that people really need to get their news from somewhere outside of Facebook. Nonetheless, this would never have been an issue without such an election. So, NATO, Trump, Putin: discuss … and pass the pipe.