There’s no arguing that both Trump’s actions and his public speeches serve as a clear indicator that today’s America is completely indifferent towards Europe. Before approaching any deal the White House will ask what’s in it in store for Washington before even opening negotiations.
And even though any formal indicators of the recent divorce between the United States and Europe are highly unlikely to surface in the foreseeable future, it is clear to everyone that the seven decade old era of cooperation between Brussels and Washington has come to an end.
Yes, there all those typical highs and lows that make a marriage memorable: a confrontation with the Warsaw Pact, joint military aggression against Middle East players, and finally – various invasions in other regions of the world. It’s quite possible that sooner or later individual European politicians will have to face justice for all of those military adventures that resulted in streams of mainly civilian blood running deep in certain areas of the abused countries. Further still, it still no obvious for certain readers that those brave European soldiers and officers that chose to embark on dubious mission under the NATO banner, while fulfilling their duties with both courage and enthusiasm, were not protecting their countries, instead they were risking their lives for Washington to be able to keep its share of the energy markets intact. However, the notion that United States would defend Europe in times of need for this valiant service of common Europeans sounds ridiculous these days. Washington seems to be kin to put Brussels in a tricky position in those conflicts that represented no threat to the European union, so that other international players could automatically assume that the EU is no better than the US. Over the past 15 years alone, European servicemen would be deployed to a total of 30 countries under various dubious pretexts, including Iraq, Ukraine, Congo, Georgia and Yugoslavia.
Today, out of 28 EU member states a total of 22 remains a part of the North Atlantic Alliance. At the same time, the leading role in NATO is traditionally being played by the United States that pursuits its own interests, paying no heed of those that the EU might have. Although it’s true that there’s two nuclear powers in Europe, namely the United Kingdom and France. However, Belgium, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands have made themselves targets for potential strikes by agreeing to host American nuclear weapons as part of NATO’s nuclear sharing policy. This resulted in EU countries becoming the third largest nuclear player on the international stage after the United States and Russia.
So what exactly the United States has been guarding in Europe? And what’s even more important haven’t Europeans paid an insurmountable price in human lives for NATO’s prestige and those mind boggling incomes American arms manufacturers keep enjoying?
The wake-up call has turned out to be extremely painful for Europe, with an ever increasing number of political figures coming to grips with the fact that Washington’s influence on the international stage is shrinking on the daily basis. Europe wouldn’t stomach the unpredictability of the sitting US president and that it why it has to search for new partners that would respect the agreements stroke by the leading political figures.
Under these conditions, Brussels has come to grips with the fact that it’s in no position to fulfill the demands of American arms manufacturers anymore, it’s time to start building something of its own. And even though the future European armed forces will never reach the scale of NATO, but they will still be large enough to protect Europe from any possible threats, including international terrorism.
For the first time the idea of European players seeking a far more comprehensive military cooperation first emerged in the second half of 2016. Among the leading trends that led to this idea were mass migration from Africa and the Middle East, domestic extremist violence, and the Brexit referendum that shook the very foundation of the EU. However, this trend was aggravated even further by Trump’s ambiguity about the US commitment to NATO and his position on the Paris climate agreement and the Iran nuclear deal.
In December 2017, at the meeting of the EU Council leading regional players signed the so-called Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), pledging their commitment to joint development of new weapons and all sorts military equipment. So far, more than 20 states have joined this agreement, with Denmark, Malta and the United Kingdom remaining in the ranks of outsiders. It’s been note that PESCO will be closely tied to the new coordinated annual review on defence, an EDA initiative that systematically monitors national defence spending plans, and the European Defence Fund, which is currently being developed.
Predictably enough, Washington tries to mount a resistance to those initiatives by embarking its loyal satellites assistants such as the United Kingdom on the mission aimed at rescuing NATO, along with a number of states are not members of the EU. It should also be emphasized that up to this day any initiative aimed at the promotion of closer European military and security cooperation would be blocked by London, which was implanted in the EU to safeguard Washington’s interests that closely tied with the survival of the monstrous Cold War relic known as NATO.
The project of a joint European army is now being actively promoted by the European Commission, headed by Jean-Claude Juncker. Last June, a total of nine European countries, namely France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Great Britain, Spain, Portugal and Estonia signed a declaration of intent aimed at the establishment of the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI) – a new alliance that will only deploy its troops to safeguard European interests and security. According to regional and international experts, the new defence initiative is a blueprint of the future European army that will operate outside NATO’s framework.
It’s been noted that Europe’s success achievement of effective defence policy integration will depend on the growing reaction to European integration in general in other policy domains. In particular, nations facing the Mediterranean will concentrate more on the Middle East chaos and the ungovernable spaces of North Africa. While other EU players may be more concerned with issues of domestic politics, especially the prevalence of Euroscepticism. Therefore, finding a middle ground is an issue of paramount importance for the the EU, as there’s no guarantee that national interests of its members will aggregate into a set of common EU defence principles.
However, a new life has been injected into the issue of European defence and that is a clear symptom of the tectonic shifts taking place in international power relationships. However, there’s a long way to go before Europe can expect to effectively defend itself.
Grete Mautner is an independent researcher and journalist from Germany, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”