In less than three decades it will be one hundred years since World War II ended. It is time for wealthy and populous Western European allies to assume the lead responsibility for their own defense, reflecting their recovery from a long ended world war, and the globe’s inexorable rebalancing into a multipolar system. The days when the European Union could take soft-policy initiatives that end up producing difficult security consequences for the United States and the NATO alliance must end. Europe cannot hide forever behind the military skirts of the United States. Bean counting toward two percent of GDP defense-budget goals in seven years will not be enough.
With new challenges everywhere, the United States must develop with its NATO Europe allies a full defense and military partnership as peers. Otherwise, as Henry Kissinger noted in a recent Financial Times interview, a Europe trying to exercise mainly soft power will risk becoming “an appendage of Eurasia,” facilitating opportunities for China and Russia to build hegemony over the entire continental land mass. The European democracies can no longer keep their heads buried in the sand, dreaming that for them history has somehow ended, while leaving it primarily to the United States to act as their Spartan protector.
Ramon Marks is a retired New York international lawyer.
Image: A member of NATO forces in Afghanistan, stands guard during a change of command ceremony in Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan September 2, 2018. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail