Editor’s Note: The following piece was submitted by SOFREP reader and Former United States Marine Julian McBride. It reflects his personal views and opinions. A million thanks to Julian for this, his second SOFREP contribution. 

A Geopolitical Shift in NATO?

For several decades Europe has enjoyed a mutual defense treaty with the United States, the latter of which is the world’s top military and economic superpower. With a plethora of joint military exercises, a military alliance in NATO, and having American companies mass produce weaponry for various member states, the continent has enjoyed years of protection and peace—but this has all changed with renewed imperial ambitions of Russia.

American politics has seen the rise of the “American First” faction, also known as MAGA, slowly influencing the Republican Party. For them, they feel Europe has been spoiled by the American military presence and that Washington should focus more on internal security, particularly at the border, over European defense.

The first sign of these cracks came under then-President Donald Trump during his disputes with then-Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. Before the 2018 NATO summit, Trump criticized alliance members for failing to meet the 2% GDP on defense spending requirement of the alliance, which was an agreed-upon requirement stemming back from the 2006 summit.

When Russia initially invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea, along with setting the Donbas region on fire for future pretenses, only three NATO members met the allocations. Today, only ten NATO members have met the 2% defense spending requirement, which includes the US, UK, Greece, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, France, and Poland—the latter of which is currently on pace to rapidly remilitarize to become a shield of Eastern Europe.

Trump’s disputes had come towards the wealthier Western European states who had not allocated their share of defense requirements, despite having the global economies capable of doing so, particularly Germany.

The highest percentage of military spending and defense weaponry allocated to Ukraine has unsurprisingly been Central and Eastern European nations such as Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Czechia, and Slovakia—countries that know and have dark experiences under the imperial boot of the Kremlin.

Nonetheless, efforts from Britain, Poland, and the Baltic nations haven’t satisfied the America First movement. Despite various member states spending more of their defense budget towards Ukraine’s defense than the US, a growing call by the isolationist movement has been to cut all Ukrainian aid completely.