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Prime minister Djukanovic, Jens Stoltenberg, Trump
Washington

Trump welcomes Montenegro into NATO

President Trump has just approved the accession of Montenegro into NATO, before he is scheduled to attend the NATO summit in Brussels next month.

Published: April 12, 2017, 9:57 am

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    Despite many campaign promises on US foreign policy, the American president has become largely indistinguishable from his campaign rival Hillary Clinton, in a deliberate departure from his pre-presidency rhetoric.

    A 2016 NATO poll of Montenegrans found that support for joining NATO had risen to 47.3 percent, but many remain sceptical. Only recently fewer than 40 percent of Montenegrins favored joining NATO and approximately the same percentage of Montenegrins opposed joining NATO.

    Montenegro’s neighbours Croatia and Albania are already NATO members

    Italian journalist and former member of the European Parliament, Julia Keze, said before elections in Montenegro that the prime minister Djukanovic was hugely unpopular in the EU:

    “In Europe, there is not much sympathy for Milo Djukanovic. Ms. Merkel has never met with him, which is no coincidence. And you know how much Germany is important in Europe. Neither is France sympathetic, and in Italy no one wants to shake hands with him. In the EU, if Djukanovic would lose, everybody would be satisfied. Only the US would be happy.”

    The US Senate had voted 97-2 last month to ratify Montenegro’s membership, further solidifying the Trump administration’s commitment to the status quo where the US takes global military responsibility.

    The only no votes in the Senate came from Republicans Mike Lee and Rand Paul. The Senate hearing on admitting Montenegro to NATO was solely a Russia-bashing session, because allowing Montenegro into NATO would not advance US national security. For 16 years the US has been at war in the Middle East, making the world less safe on a daily basis.

    The regime in Podgorica wants to prohibit the Serbian language and the Cyrillic alphabet, and limit the influence of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Even though Serbs officially make up a third of the population of Montenegro, they have almost no rights.

    Djukanovic grandly promised the NATO secretary-general that “you can count on us at any time.” But in Montenegro’s case, it means that they have only two thousand active-duty military personnel to offer and no money. With just under 35 000 officers, the New York NYPD is over seventeen times larger than the Montenegrin armed forces with a budget of almost $5 billion.

    Russia has accused “NATO of trying to encircle it and friendly nations like Serbia, and vowed to do what’s necessary to defend its national security and interests”. The same Neocon figures who have pushed for admitting Montenegro, are also recklessly pushing to admit Ukraine and Georgia.

    The NATO secretary-general also reminded nations that membership remains open “to countries like Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina”.

    Deputy General Secretary of NATO Rose Gottemoeller remarked earlier: “There is no need to accelerate the process, which in itself runs very smoothly, so that, when all formalities are fulfilled, I expect quite naturally that Montenegro will become a member of NATO in the spring of 2017”.

    Efforts by Defense Secretary James Mattis to urge European NATO members to increase their contributions, were outright refused by European leaders, including Germany. President Trump has massively increased US military spending, giving European leaders little incentive to push for an increase in their own military spending anyway. The most effective way to incentivize other NATO members to spend more on defense would obviously have been for the US to spend less.

    Then last week, Trump ordered missile strikes on Syria after blaming the Syrian government on a chemical weapons attack on civilians, without proof and acting totally alone.

    It’s hard not conclude that the Europeans have clowned Trump by committing the US to act unilaterally as an enforcer – or breaker – of international law. NATO may await the same fate.

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