It’s not up to the Pentagon to protect Europe from Putin

From a defense perspective, this makes cooperating on anything rather infuriating. A key problem is that European countries have different perceptions of what constitutes a threat. Russia poses a much greater threat, for example, to Poland than to Portugal, for example. This makes Portugal (and other Western European countries) less interested in resisting Russian aggression in Ukraine or elsewhere than Eastern or Central European countries. On terrorism, global warming, China and other subjects, there is no unanimity in Europe. Every state has a different idea of ​​what to defend against, how it should be done, and who should devote resources to the problem. In a newspaper article last year, political scientists Stephen Brooks and Hugo Meijer cited this “strategic cacophony” as an insurmountable problem to European autonomy.

The United States has long solved this problem by being the off-continent provider of European security. NATO rather than the EU is the security organization of choice, with the US mentoring its members, managing command systems and, importantly, providing most of the equipment used. After the end of the Cold War, the conflict in the former Yugoslavia offered a new opportunity for other European nations to show whether they could act in concert to stop the bloodshed. As Maynard Glitman wrote, “The Yugoslav crisis came as the Cold War drew to a close and Western Europeans, optimistically looking forward to the emergence of a powerful European Union…were eager to demonstrate their ability to assume a major political and security relationship in the South. Europe.” The United Nations and European countries have proven unequal to the task, and the result has been catastrophic.

But depending on the United States (including under the NATO umbrella) to provide security for most Europeans comes at a cost to both parties. It was one thing to hope that the American people would agree to go to war to prevent the Soviet Union from dominating Europe. It’s another to hope they’ll be willing to do so to protect Finland, which shares a 930-mile border with Russia. Only 30% of Americans support a no-fly zone in Ukraine if it means shooting down Russian planes. It is not a lasting basis for long-term support to defend Eastern European countries in times of war. If Russia ever calls the NATO bluff and invades a member state, the American public might revolt at the thought of sending troops to die in places that don’t threaten the country’s security.

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