Step 4: Keep the Middle East from Melting Down
Europe can deal with Putin and China if it isn’t distracted by grave threats from down below. U.S. regional strategies for Europe and the Middle East must be interlocked. U.S. contributions toward a more stable prosperous and peaceful Middle East have a direct, salutary impact on European security. America already does a lot, and it can do more. The Europeans can help. Libya is a prime example.
A stable Libya would be a boon to regional security and expand energy resources available on the world market. The Europeans are squabbling over Libya policy. A little more diplomatic leadership from America would benefit both sides of the Atlantic.
Then, there is Turkey, perhaps the thorniest issue to be dealt with. Many of Ankara’s choices are problematic, including insisting on deploying the Russian S-400 air defense system which would thoroughly compromise its position in NATO and its role in fielding and deploying the F-35 fighter aircraft. The United States was right to draw the line on this issue. Sticking with S-400 would be a disastrous decision. Yet, there is no easy resolution here, other than to continue to try to muddle through the myriad of issues. Ankara has lost trust and confidence in America and Europe. Its best strategic option is to try and rebuild the relationship. Washington has to offer that opportunity.
Step 5: Straight Talk with Major European Capitals
This is perhaps the most important step to moving the region forward. To undercut the insidious European squabbling, the United States must have clear and unambiguous policies on the issues most vital to transatlantic security. Powerful U.S. opposition and strong leadership against bad ideas will eventually sink into the most powerful places in Europe. Further, an unambiguous U.S. stance on transatlantic issues would likely embolden others to stand with us.
In addition, we should remain resolute in what the allies need to bring to the table. That includes: hitting defense spending targets; improving infrastructure to support the forward defense of NATO and enhancing deployment and mobility of defense assets. Most of all, America and Europe must show solidarity against Russian meddling. To be fair, the nations that live next to Russia have to live with their neighbor. That said, no nation should enable or make excuses for Russia undermining other NATO nations or tolerate Russian corruptive influences.
Tough love is decidedly not an anti-EU agenda. The United States and EU can work on many issues—China, trade, the Balkans, and energy, to name but a few. As to the problems of the EU, they are for Europeans to sort out. Clearing the air on the tough issues in the transatlantic community can only help create better conditions for the Europeans to deal with Europe’s problems. America, for example, should just flat-out pour cold water on the notion of independent-led European force. Such initiatives directly compete with NATO for already scarce resources.
Some in Europe believe the answer is to just wait Trump out. Some in America agree. But simply pining for a more pliant American leader, a cheerleader for the European project, it no answer at all. It’s just whistling past Europe’s graveyard of troubles.
Both Europeans and Americans who have nothing but disdain for Trump need to look beyond their distaste. It is in their self-interest that the next steps in U.S. policies focus on the very real threats facing Europe and build on the significant accomplishments of the last two years.
A Heritage Foundation vice president, James Jay Carafano directs the think tank’s research into matters of national security and foreign relations.
Image: Reuters .