Seven years after the end of the Second World War, on the 10th of March 1952, the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and the newly established Federal Republic of Germany received an astounding note from the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Union offered to withdraw the troops that then occupied eastern Germany and to end its rule over the occupied zone. Germany would be reunited under a constitution that allowed the country freedom to choose its own social system. Germany would even be allowed to rebuild its military, and all Germans except those convicted of war crimes would regain their political rights. In return, the Allied troops in western Germany would also be withdrawn—and reunited Germany would be forbidden to join the new NATO alliance.
There’s an effort now to spin words to present this trip as something less than an utter catastrophe for U.S. interests in Europe. National-Security Adviser H.R. McMaster has insisted that President Trump did indeed affirm Article 5. Compare Trump’s words to those of his predecessors, and you can see for yourself how untrue that is. The Republican chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker, went on record to declare that he could not have been more pleased with the trip. If true, that would reflect poorly on Senator Corker’s judgment. I prefer to think that the statement reflects poorly on his candor.
Here’s what’s really true: Donald Trump is doing damage to the deepest and most broadly agreed foreign-policy interests of the United States. He is doing so while people associated with his campaign are under suspicion of colluding with Vladimir Putin’s spy agencies to bring him to office. The situation is both ugly and dangerous. If it’s to be corrected, all Americans—eminent Republicans like Bob Corker above all—must at least correctly name it for what it is.