One of President Donald Trump’s chief complaints about America’s European allies is that they don’t spend nearly enough on defense; he has again raised the issue on Wednesday at the NATO summit. Granted, Trump is hardly the first American president to point to miserly military spending on the part of fellow NATO member states. This has been a sore spot in transatlantic relations since at least the 1970s. But the vociferousness of his complaints, and his transactional approach to alliances writ large, appears to have had an effect all the same. European powers are thinking harder about how to build their military strength and how they might use it in concert, even in—especially in—cases where the United States won’t be there to lend a hand.

In his seminal 2002 essay “Power and Weakness,” Robert Kagan, the esteemed foreign-policy analyst, warned of a widening transatlantic divide over the exercise of military power. Whereas Europeans saw themselves “moving beyond power into a self-contained world of laws and rules and transnational negotiation and cooperation,” Americans saw the world through a darker lens, in which “international laws and rules are unreliable and where true security and the defense and promotion of a liberal order still depend on the possession and use of military might.” In short, “on major strategic and international questions today, Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus.” And that is why it was the United States that was always dragging a reluctant Europe into policing conflicts.

Now, however, we are on the cusp of a reversal. Americans, on the populist right, the socialist left, and most points in between, have lost their appetite for armed intervention, and the country’s chief conflict in the coming decades is likely to be a protracted cold war with an increasingly powerful Beijing. Europe, meanwhile, …read more

Source:: The Atlantic – Global


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