"This should be a bigger story, yes?" That's economist and ace blogger Tyler Cowen's headline for a blog post linking to a story reporting that America's NATO allies are increasing defense spending by 4.3 percent this year. It's "a response in part to intense pressure from President Trump that the nations invest more in their militaries."
Well, yes. Every American administration going back to the beginning of the NATO alliance has urged the European nations to spend more on defense, but no president has made it a front line issue as Trump did during his campaign in 2015 and 2016 and has been doing as president in 2017.
There's an argument that the cost of operating this way exceeds the benefit, the cost being resentment by some allies and the benefit being relatively small. Urging the NATO allies to spend more, the argument goes on, is a matter for routine American diplomacy; it sometimes achieves marginal success but is subject also to inevitable backsliding. Like so much in government, it is Sisyphus's work. Performed by glum anonymous Sisyphuses.
That's not Trump's style, and his fans can argue that his brash, crass approach has produced results. In this view, the snooty Europeans can make all the disparaging comments about him they like, especially around election time, but they're ponying up the money and that's what counts. Even Americans who despise the president, Trump fans can argue, have to admit he's gotten results on this issue that any other president, including Obama, would have been pleased to obtain.
That does sound like it should be a bigger story, no?