Is America Still the Anchor of European Defense?

U.S. Army live-fire test in in Swietozow, Poland, January 16, 2017. Flickr/U.S. Army Europe

Europe’s defenses have become more reliant on America than ever.

In an age that has seen U.S. allies in Asia—like Japan and South Korea—bring more to the table in terms of men and materiel, this European passivity is troubling. Displaying a penchant for misdirection that only clouded the issues, European elites persuaded themselves that the Trump administration is the primary “cause for concern” on the global stage. Simultaneously, they ignored the fact that since the Kosovo air war, western Europe has become unable to stop a conflict on its doorstep. In an age of rapidly growing global challenges and threats, European passivity and free riding are having a terrible impact on Western cohesion. Europeans should note that, due to demographic changes in the United States and economic and political changes in Asia, many in Washington are starting to see Asia as the future global center of gravity. They will no longer be able to take for granted the cultural links that saw Washington place Europe at the center of its global alliance system. In the future, Europeans will have to decide whether it is indeed a Western system or just an American system—and, if the former, one that they should seek to uphold.

John Hemmings is Director of the Asia Studies Centre at the Henry Jackson Centre and an adjunct fellow at CSIS. He recently finished his PhD at the London School of Economics (LSE). Follow him on Twitter: @johnhemmings2.

Image: U.S. Army live-fire test in in Swietozow, Poland, January 16, 2017. Flickr/U.S. Army Europe

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