Many of us remember the scene in “Goodfellas” where Henry is reciting Paulie’s unbreakable rules of restaurant investment and cash flow. Well, President Trump just took the same tack with his Cost Plus 50 proposal to American allies across the globe.
For those who haven’t heard, it boils down this way. Nations that want a U.S. military presence should pay the cost of it plus a 50 percent surcharge for the privilege. No, as amusing as it might be to contemplate it, the president does not propose a protection racket. It’s merely an initial negotiating tactic of asking for the stars in hopes of getting the moon.
In this case, ask for an amount almost no one would be willing to pay to make geopolitical scofflaws like the Germans pony up at least the 2 percent of GDP NATO members are pledged to spend on defense. There are in this plan discounts for good behavior towards the U.S. on international issues.
That must really frost the Hun.
But the president has a point.
The Cold War is over and rich nations like Japan and Germany should pay for their own defense. If they want us in country? Fine. But, and I say this as a former soldier who was stationed in then West Germany with NATO forces, the greater burden of that expenditure should not fall on the backs of American taxpayers anymore.
The very public airing of the gambit has made Berlin, Tokyo, and Seoul wake up and smell the java. Good. Also remember Poland has recently offered over $2 billion to host U.S. troops. So there is an extant precedent.
Some NATO members have increased their military spending since Trump took office, no doubt due to his prodding. If he can get others and Asian allies to do the same he will have made a point, maybe a profit, and continued to help U.S. allies.