George W Bush, as a candidate, famously asked, "Why do we need an army?" Such first principles thinking is a good thing. Donald Trump, as a candidate, similarly asked, "Why can't we use nuclear weapons?" That is first principles thinking.
Donald Trump, the candidate, asked for a fundamental rethink on both Russia and NATO. A presidential campaign is a marketplace for ideas. The voters are the customers. 75% of Americans who don't have college degrees are saying they can't afford NATO. It is dollars and cents. In a government of the people, by the people, for the people, it is the people who make the final decision on how the tax money is to be spent.
Trump has been smart enough to see Russia and NATO are two sides of the same coin. NATO was created with the express intention of preventing Soviet troops from marching into Western Europe.
So when the threat is supposed to be gone, if the Soviet Union is no more, if the West won the Cold War, why is NATO still there? Somebody should have asked this question in 1991. Trump is asking now. Good for him. He had an idea and he took it to the people.
NATO was never designed to counter terrorism, and was never redesigned for it either. It is an old fashioned battle machine designed to fight wars with tanks and ground troops.
Trump’s point is if Russia can politically be turned into a Germany, a friend and an ally, then do we still need NATO?
That is a question he asked and lost the entire Republican security establishment in just asking.
There are many moving parts to the equation. The biggest moving part is Russia itself. But like Obama disagreed with Bush on Iraq Trump has disagreed with Obama, Bush II, Clinton, and Bush I on Russia. That is quite entrepreneurial.
He won the idea battle. The execution battle is ahead.