Saturday, February 18, 2017

McCain rips Trump administration for its inability to separate truth from lies, Pence slams allies on defense spending

The Guardian reports on McCain’s Munich speech in McCain attacks Trump administration and inability to ‘separate truth from lies’. Republican senator uses Munich speech to reflect on ‘disarray’ in Trump White House, saying president contradicts himself.

The Republican Senator broke with the reassuring message that US officials visiting Germany have sought to convey on their debut trip to Europe, telling a Munich security conference the resignation of the new president’s security adviser, Michael Flynn, over his contacts with Russia reflected deep problems in Washington.

“I think that the Flynn issue obviously is something that shows that in many respects this administration is in disarray and they’ve got a lot of work to do,” said McCain, a known Trump critic, even as he praised Trump’s defence secretary. “The president, I think, makes statements [and] on other occasions contradicts himself. So we’ve learned to watch what the president does as opposed to what he says,” he said.

Without mentioning the president’s name, McCain lamented a shift in the US and Europe away from the “universal values” that forged the Nato alliance seven decades ago. McCain also said the alliance’s founders would be “alarmed by the growing inability, and even unwillingness, to separate truth from lies.”

The chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said “more and more of our fellow citizens seem to be flirting with authoritarianism and romanticising it as our moral equivalent”. The senator also regretted the “hardening resentment we see toward immigrants, and refugees, and minority groups, especially Muslims”.

And should our NATO allies be comforted by the “reassuring message that US officials visiting Germany have sought to convey on their debut trip to Europe”?

If McCain’s speech was the first shoe, the second one to drop came from another provocative message, for example, Mike Pence widens US rift with Europe over Nato defence spending (also reported by The Guardian).

The US vice-president has delivered the most uncompromising message yet from the Trump administration to Nato allies that they have to step up financial contributions towards defence spending.

On his first visit to Europe since taking office, Mike Pence said “some of our largest allies do not have a credible path” towards paying their share of Nato’s financial burden. Although he did not name individual countries, his targets included Germany, France and Italy. “The time has come to do more,” he said.

He was speaking immediately after the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, made it clear she would not be bullied by the US over defence spending. She said Germany had made a promise to increase defence over the next decade and would fulfil that commitment rather than be forced into the faster rises that Trump is looking for.

Merkel said the focus on defence spending could be misleading. Even if Germany was to spend more, there was not the military capacity available to invest in. She added that Germany saw spending on development in countries in Africa and elsewhere as vital to security as military spending.

In a thinly veiled warning, Pence said that while the US was bound by Nato’s article five– an attack on one member would be an attack on all – he also reminded the audience that article three contained a commitment to sharing the financial burden, echoing Trump’s warning last year that he did not feel bound to come to the defence of countries that did not pay their share.

I guess that is the Trump way of reassuring our allies that they can trust us.

One more observation:

Asked about attacks on the media, Merkel said: “Freedom of the press is a pillar of democracy.”

She knows that. Trump does not. And that is another unfortunate schism between the U. S. And western, free Europe.

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