US factor increases European security anxiety


China Military Online
Chen Zhuo
2024-02-28 19:08:51

By Zhang Dan


Recently, whether at the Meeting of NATO Ministers of Defense or at the 60th Munich Security Conference, European countries have shown strong security anxiety. And these anxieties are closely related to the US.


In the long term, frequent pressure from the US on defense spending is a major cause of security anxiety in European countries. In recent years, the US has repeatedly urged NATO allies to increase defense spending to 2% of GDP. However, data shows that only 11 out of NATO's 31 members met this target by 2023. Among them, major European countries such as Germany, France, Spain and Italy have not met the requirements. This naturally leads to dissatisfaction in the US. Former US President Donald Trump recently publicly threatened at a campaign rally that he would allow Russia to do whatever it wants to NATO member nations that are "delinquent" in devoting 2% of their gross domestic product to defense.


Amidst Europe's current stagnation, the US foreign exports of military equipment reached an all-time high of USD 238 billion in FY2023, showing a 16% increase compared to FY2022. If European countries conform to the US demand for an increase in their military spending, the US military-industrial complex will undoubtedly continue to benefit from them. European countries are neither willing to sacrifice their economic and financial resources for others, nor can they free themselves from their dependence on the US for security. The possibility of Trump's re-election has become a looming threat for European countries.


In the short term, European security concerns are related to the pressure of military assistance to Ukraine. The Russia-Ukraine conflict has lasted for over two years, and European countries, burdened by aid to Ukraine, are increasingly displaying signs of being overwhelmed. From the  protests by farmers in numerous countries to Slovakia's refusal to provide military assistance to Ukraine, opposition to Ukrainian aid is increasing in European society.


However, the "aid to Ukraine" shackles imposed by the US on Europe during the same period have become even heavier. On one hand, the US, unwilling to be deeply involved in the Russia-Ukraine conflict with significant energy and resources, is attempting to push Europe to the forefront instead. On the other hand, the Biden administration's assistance bill for Ukraine has encountered obstacles in Congress, which could only be compensated for by coercing the allies to enhance their support. During the recent NATO defense ministers' meeting, it was at the request of the US that member states agreed to establish a UAV alliance and a mine-clearance alliance to support Ukraine. However, it remains uncertain whether this pledge could be fulfilled.


It is evident that, although Europe has the name of "alliance" with the US, what it gets is the status of "servant". Through spreading threats, exerting pressure to aid Ukraine, and hyping geopolitical security issues, the US has employed various means in an attempt to strengthen its control over Europe, maintain its hegemony, and exploit Europe to alleviate its pressure. As for Europe's growing security anxiety, it is not taken into consideration by the US.


In the face of the US tactic of manipulating its allies, European countries have never ceased in their pursuit of strategic autonomy. In mid-February, the foreign ministers of France, Germany, and Poland met at La Celle-Saint-Cloud, west of Paris, under the Weimar Triangle mechanism. France's Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne stated that Europe should enhance its security while maintaining NATO, to have "second 'life insurance'". The foreign ministers of Poland and Germany also expressed the same stance.


Strengthening European defense autonomy is of paramount importance for European NATO members, given the uncertain future of US security policy. Regardless of the outcome of the US presidential election, Europe should think independently on this issue.


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