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Slade was a 1970s British band that could wake up any audience. As a teen, I was mesmerized by Noddy Holder's raspy voice, his onstage penguin steps with mirrored stove pipe hat and the sound of Slades' instruments. One track called, "Cum On Feel the Noize" (yes, they had a penchant for deliberate misspellings with song titles like, "Look Wot You Dun") still warms my nostalgic heart. I thought of that song today while listening to an NPR podcast about Trump's recent NATO comments.
There were two parts to Trump's NATO invective. The first should be ignored as "noise" and the other should be heeded as a "signal". First, the ridiculous assertion that he'd invite Putin to invade NATO countries that don't pay their bills should be ignored, but the second one about NATO members not paying their "bills" requires closer examination as a signal.
One problem with the American Left, is that they fail to understand why Trump was elected in 2016 and instead they focus on Trump's hyperbolic noise which, to be fair, is often preposterous or dangerous. However, I believe that most Trump barbs and threats are designed to agitate others, fire up the base and keep him in the headlines.
In this case, I heard a podcast commentator -- obsessed with Trump's use of the noun "bills" -- remind listeners that NATO "is not a country club" with its members getting billed. That observation is noise. Of course, no administrative entity issues invoices to 31 member nations, but members have agreed to fund a minimum of 2% of their GDP to pay for their own defense.
In the last report by the NATO Secretary General (the 2022 report was issued before Finland became a member in 2023) just 7 of the 30 NATO member nations met their minimum 2% of GDP military spend commitment. That's the signal.
Most NATO countries are not paying their share. The rest is just noise.