Hillary Clinton has repeatedly sought to distinguish herself from Donald Trump by characterizing herself as a strong defender of U.S. interests, values, and allies in relations with Russia. Secretary Clinton correctly assesses Putin as a “bully,” the stakes involved in regions of U.S.-Russian tension like Syria and Ukraine, and the importance of America and its allies jointly confronting him. However, Clinton’s rhetoric regarding Putin and Russia is inconsistent with her tenure as Secretary of State. The “reset” in U.S.-Russian relations over which Clinton presided as Secretary of State wrought significant and lasting damage to U.S. strategic interests and had a particularly destructive effect on our Central and Eastern European allies, contributing to a crisis of deterrence in Europe. If she is elected president, we hope Secretary Clinton adheres to the spirit of her recent comments, moves to substantially strengthen U.S. alliances in Europe, and avoids the old patterns that she set in U.S.-Russian relations as Secretary of State.
Donald Trump’s statement that we are paying approximately 73 percent of the cost of NATO is factually inaccurate. The total NATO budget for 2016 is $2.3 billion, including $245 million in the civil budget, $1.3 billion in the military budget, and around $763 million for the NATO Security Investment Program (NSIP). The U.S. cost share in the NATO budget currently sits at 22.1 percent for 2016-2017. Taken as a percentage of our entire defense budget, our NATO burden stands at less than one-tenth of one percent. Against this investment, we receive the benefit of hundreds of thousands of European troops deployed alongside our own soldiers around Europe to deter the growing threat of Russian aggression, and deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq to act as a force multiplier for U.S. forces engaged in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency fights, including against enemies who could become capable of striking the American homeland.
The United Kingdom will vote on June 23 in a yes-no referendum on whether to leave the European Union (Brexit). A case can be made for Brexit based on arguments about government, economics, law, and cultural identity. There are also many strong arguments for remaining in the EU, making this vote neither clear nor easy. This backgrounder fleshes out the full array of arguments for the Leave (pro-Brexit) and Remain (anti-Brexit) campaigns as each side views them from its own perspective. The paper concludes with a set of recommendations as to how the U.S. should view the debate in light of its own interests.