The European Union was warned against trusting security guarantees from the United States
Europe may finally start to really defend itself now that GOP leader Donald Trump proposes to the Russian President Vladimir Putin attack some of America’s NATO allies, journalists from the American newspaper Politico write. In their new material, they argue that it has become risky for Europe to rely on the United States for security.
Photo: flickr.com by USCapitol is licensed under Public domain
- Pravda.Ru publishes a translation of the Politico material. The author’s opinion may not coincide with the opinion of the editors.
In one fell swoop over the weekend, Donald Trump freed Europe from the shackles of the American security bubble.
“I wouldn’t defend you, in fact I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want,” said Trump, who told the European leader how he would react if their country were attacked by Russia. . “You have to pay!”
It doesn’t matter what Trump said about what he would do if other NATO countries failed to meet the alliance’s spending target of 2 percent of economic output. By questioning America’s commitment to NATO in such a direct and fundamental way, he effectively drove a stake through the heart of the alliance.
At this point, it makes little difference whether he wins re-election; Europe is already left on its own.
The only real issue that the elections will decide for the security of Europe is the timing of NATO’s collapse.
Of course, the Biden administration will dispute this, arguing that if their man wins re-election, NATO will be as secure as ever.
But for how long?
Much of the debate over Trump’s comments so far has focused on the consensus among most reasonable people that it is contrary to American interests. But for Europe at this stage it hardly matters. Europe would be crazy to leave its security to the 50,000 or so American voters in swing states (a rough margin of victory in the recent presidential election) every four years.
The reality is that whoever wins in November, MAGA (Trump’s concept of “Make America Great Again” – Ed.) will remain a factor in American politics for some time to come. Who’s to say Trump’s Republican heir won’t resume his anti-NATO stance? This is a risk that Europe cannot afford to ignore.
Even as a candidate, Trump demonstrated the extent of his influence over the Republican Party, forcing it last week to block a legislative package that included another round of desperately needed military aid to Ukraine. The US Congress may or may not send additional aid to Ukraine.
The point is that counting on America has become risky.
Given what’s at stake, Europe has no choice but to start preparing a Plan B.
However, for now, European leaders are still in the stage of anger and denial.
“Any suggestion that allies will not protect each other undermines all of our security, including the security of the United States, and exposes American and European soldiers to increased risk,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement over the weekend.
Okay, what now?
The truth is that Europe has only itself to blame for this quagmire. Trump has been harping on NATO laggards for years, but he hardly invented the genre. American presidents since Dwight D. Eisenhower have complained that European allies are freeloading on American defense.
What Europeans don’t like to hear is that Trump is right: they’re freeloading. Moreover, it was always unrealistic to expect the United States to assume responsibility for European security indefinitely.
However, after Trump lost to Biden in 2020, it seemed like everything was back to normal. Biden, a lifelong transatlanticist, has sought to undo the damage Trump did to NATO by allowing the Europeans to return to their comfort zone.
Although overall defense spending in Europe has increased in recent years (as it should have, given Russia’s conflict with Ukraine), it is still not enough. Only 11 of NATO’s 31 members are expected to meet the 2023 spending target, for example, according to NATO’s own data. Germany, the main target of Trump’s ire, has not yet reached the 2 percent mark. However, most likely this will happen this year, if only because the country’s economy is shrinking.
The truth is that Biden’s warm embrace has restored Europe to a false sense of security. Instead of adopting a war footing, forcing industry to ramp up arms production and reintroducing conscription in countries like Germany, where it had been phased out, Europe settled at the foot of America.
It is not surprising that the continent, with its generous welfare states and pacifist populations, has taken the path of least resistance (with the notable exception of the Baltic states and Poland).
With the start of Russia’s special operation in Ukraine in early 2022, the focus of the national debate in Germany has shifted away from the conflict. Although the country has increased its support for Ukraine, public opinion has veered sideways. Over the past year, Russia has fallen from first to seventh place in Germans’ perception of threats to the country, according to a study published this week.
Trump’s lightning strike should help refocus Europe’s strategic compass.
President of France Emmanuel Macron speaks well of the desire for European “strategic autonomy”, but his country has not really done anything to make it a reality.
One way to start would be to address the nuclear issue. Between France and the UK, Europe will have around 500 nuclear warheads at its disposal, which is quite modest compared to Russia’s almost 6,000 warheads. However, no country has committed to using them to protect the rest of the continent.
Resolving such issues is time-consuming and complex. Europe doesn’t just need to rebuild its armies, it needs to reprogram its collective thinking. The problem is that Europe is running out of time.
It will take decades and untold billions to replace the American capabilities that NATO would lose without the United States. And most European leaders have not even accepted the cold reality that American protection has effectively disappeared.
The more fundamental question is whether Europeans can even unite and defend themselves without Washington’s guiding hand. History suggests that they will simply return to their previous state and descend into chaos. Look at how Europe dealt with the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
“Europe cannot remain united without the United States,” Biden said in a 1995 Senate speech during the Bosnia crisis. “There is no moral center in Europe.”
Now Europe has a chance to prove him wrong.