Reviews | NATO summit aside, Europe has a problem with America

In the months that followed, however, these divisions resurfaced, making themselves felt in new ways. Some countries – particularly France, Italy and Germany – are discussing ways to find a peace settlement in Ukraine, even as they continue to send arms and funds. Yet polls in Poland suggest he won’t approve of peace until Russia is properly punished. The European Union, slowed down by the need to reach consensus, is struggling to keep up. His long-awaited Strategic Compass, a strategic document issued after the war began, is a document full of buzzwords that promises a “leap forward” in defense – but does little to remedy these. divisions in practice.

In the absence of continental consensus, the cement that continues to hold European security together is the United States. Since February, the transatlantic relationship has returned to a comfortable pace: the United States provides large personnel and high-tech weaponry, preventing other NATO members from committing substantial resources or making difficult choices in terms of of common defence.

Politically, the US presence reassures NATO members in Eastern Europe – who have painfully realized since February that Western European states are not as willing to take a hard line on Russia – while allowing Germany to lead Europe without incurring too high a financial and military cost. . The underlying disagreements have not gone away. But as long as American troops and equipment are on the continent, European states can have their cake and eat it too.

It is understandable that European leaders do not want to engage in punitive political fights at a difficult time. And it is perhaps easy to assume, with 100,000 American troops in Europe, that the American commitment to European security is inviolable. Yet the Trump years should not be so easily forgotten. America’s commitment to defending Europe, overseen by Mr. Biden, may seem assured today. But with growing threats in Asia and turmoil in US domestic politics, it’s probably only a matter of time before that changes.

If he returns to the presidency, Mr. Trump may well follow through on his threats to pull the United States out of NATO. Even some of his less extreme compatriots question America’s role in European defense; in May, 11 Republican senators voted against sending new military aid to Ukraine. There is also a growing consensus in Washington that the United States is urgently needed in the Indo-Pacific to deal with the Chinese threat. Even the best-case scenario — an administration in Washington that remains committed to Europe — carries the risk that a crisis elsewhere could lead to a hasty retreat, leaving European states dry.

American and European leaders may well spend the next few days bragging about the miraculous recovery of the transatlantic alliance. Yet far from a panacea, America’s support amounts to a band-aid covering Europe’s biggest defense disagreements. To be truly united, European leaders should begin the hard work of resolving these differences and ripping the bandage off.


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