The dangerous ambitions of Scholz and Macron for Europe

The dangerous ambitions of Scholz and Macron for Europe
The dangerous ambitions of Scholz and Macron for Europe

Last week, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz joined the chorus calling for a “stronger, more sovereign and geopolitical European Union”. Claiming that Washington’s focus has shifted to competing with China in the Indo-Pacific region, he concluded that “Europe is our future.”

In theory, the logic of European strategic autonomy is attractive. After all, the European Union has almost 450 million people, a GDP of $18 trillion and over $200 billion in defense spending by its member states. In practice, however, the idea has a fatal flaw: it would make Europe weaker and less secure by pushing back the United States without increasing European power. Instead, EU countries should continue to bet on the United States and the transatlantic relationship. The West is their future, as the Kremlin’s war and the surprisingly strong response of a united West have shown.

It may be puzzling why a rich and powerful continent like Europe needs the United States for its security and defense. And from Washington’s point of view, why should it serve US interests to continue to provide such protection? The key to this conundrum—and the answer for both sides—is influence.

For all its size and economic might, the EU and its 27 member states lack the scale, speed and sophistication of American firepower. Despite the promises they make to Washington and to each other that they will strengthen their military forces, the Europeans will not be able to replicate US capabilities, unify their forces under a single command, or agree on existential security issues for a very long time. time. Where European countries have fought in the last three decades – Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq, Kosovo and Libya – the role of the US has been decisive. In Ukraine, the United States provides most of the military aid – more than $10 billion, compared to just $2.5 billion from the EU. Washington is also providing more than 10,000 troops to bolster NATO’s eastern flank, compared with 1,500 troops from Berlin and 1,000 from Paris. This division of labor, in which Europe’s share rarely exceeds 20%, has been remarkably stable since the end of the Cold War.

Europe can do more, but is not eager to: Take France, whose recently withdrawn roughly 5,000 troops from Mali and the Sahel could be deployed in NATO’s eastern flanks. Perhaps only advocates of strategic autonomy like French President Emmanuel Macron know why a European-level force or a European group within NATO generates more troops than individual countries, whether they send them or not. The same argument applies to military aid: Germany, France and Italy combined have given less to Ukraine than Poland alone, even though their combined GDP is almost 14 times greater.

To achieve true strategic autonomy, Europe will have to replace the US nuclear umbrella – this is not easy either. Supporters of autonomy point to France’s nuclear arsenal, which could in theory be extended to other EU countries and even rival Russia’s. But would France be willing to trade Paris for Poland’s Poznan in a potential nuclear standoff?

Similar questions apply to almost every other major security decision, where the Europeans simply lack experience in decisions and warfare. Who will control the EU army? Would Germany, let alone France, agree to be blockaded by Hungary (if war required a unanimous decision by EU members)? Which country’s electorate would tolerate its government handing over to the EU institutions decisions that literally affect the life and death of thousands of citizens? For all its imperfections, collective security through NATO and the West remains the best answer to these questions.

For the United States, providing a security umbrella in Europe gives it a special role in shaping politics on the continent and an opportunity to mobilize allies for joint action that it would not otherwise have. This includes mostly the Indo-Pacific region. If anything, it has become clearer since the war in Russia that the two theaters are linked, whether by Beijing’s declaration of a “boundless” partnership with Moscow this year or the parallels between Russian revisionism on Ukraine and China’s on of Taiwan. And the United States will need European support if it wants to contain China’s economy, suggesting a major strategic deal could be reached.

But what if former US President Donald Trump or someone like him returns to the White House? Will Europe not be left to fend for itself? For all its rampant bluffing, the Trump administration is still betting on the West. And similar questions can just as easily be asked of France’s Marine Le Pen or other European populists with pro-Russian and anti-Western leanings. That’s why a flexible military alliance like NATO, which can easily form shifting coalitions among its 30 members, is far more effective than a centralized EU military ever could be.

The United States and Europe also benefit from the checks and balances that result from their interdependence. US foreign policy has generally failed when it has been at odds with European allies; the wars in Vietnam and Iraq come to mind. European policy is also more successful when coordinated with Washington. For example, EU policy on Ukraine, including sanctions against Russia, would certainly be less effective without close transatlantic coordination, including on intelligence, diplomacy and energy supplies.

Instead of distorting reality to fit geopolitical illusions, as proponents of European autonomy tend to do, intellectual frameworks must adjust to the underlying facts. And the collective West could add a dose of visionary thinking. Instead of going separate ways, Europe and the United States should return to former US diplomat George Kennan’s proposal for a transatlantic community “so close as to lead to a significant degree of currency and customs union as well as relative freedom of migration of people”. If joining the dollar to the euro remains a pipe dream for now, then the breadth of Cannon’s vision, complementing the transatlantic military alliance, must once again become more widespread within the West if it is to succeed in overcoming its common challenges, whether they are Russia or China.

Bart M.J. Shewczyk is a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund, an associate professor at Sciences Po, a former member of the US State Department’s Policy Planning Staff, a former refugee policy adviser to the US ambassador to the United Nations, and author of the book ” Europe’s Grand Strategy: Navigating the New World Order’. His analysis was published in “Foreign Policies”, quoted by BGNES.

The article is in bulgaria

Tags: dangerous ambitions Scholz Macron Europe frognews .bg

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