The US sends the EU to “strategic autonomy”

MOSCOW, 23 Nov 2021, RUSSTRAT Institute.

During a visit to Brussels, State Department Adviser Derek Chollet told Politico that the Joe Biden administration is ready to share ideas about new military capabilities for Europe.

US President Joe Biden ”absolutely” supports the efforts of European allies to develop their own, strong military capabilities, but it is high time for EU leaders to go beyond theory and rhetoric, Derek Chollet told Politico.

In his opinion, otherwise, the gap between the potential of the US military and what the collective armed forces of Europe are capable of will only increase, especially when it comes to countering new threats from China.

Politico called the desire to increase European military power “strategic autonomy”, as is customary among American officials, which received an impetus after the Joe Biden administration heated up relations with France, unexpectedly announcing the creation of the AUKUS partnership, and Australia’s subsequent refusal of submarines ordered from France.

It should be noted that, in this case, Politico, to put it mildly, is lying. After the announced US withdrawal from Afghanistan, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that the EU should “move to a new level”, strive to increase its military potential and gain the “political will” for military intervention without the US-led NATO.

State Department adviser Derek Chollet told Politico: “I sat through many, many defence ministerials when I was working at the Pentagon and was here in Brussels, where every defence minister around the table would all be in violent agreement about the need to spend more on defence and have a more modern capable military.”

“We want a stronger Europe”” he added, recalling conversations during his work in the Clinton administration more than two decades ago about the need to improve Europe’s armed forces after the 1998-99 Kosovo war.

“It’s in America’s interest for Europe to be more capable militarily. That’s why U.S. administrations, presidents from both parties, secretaries of defence going back the last six or seven, have all talked about the 2 percent GDP as a sort of basic good housekeeping standard for military spending,” Chollet said.

“It is important to get out of the theoretical realm, the think tank realm of strategic autonomy … and to talk about pragmatic, practical solutions,” he concluded.

In addition, in an interview with Politico, Chollet voices the current difficulties of the United States. Thus, he called the lag in the approval of ambassadors by Congress – mainly due to Texas representative Ted Cruz – evidence of the great political polarisation and deadlock that has gripped the United States in recent years. This, he said, created “a lot of uncertainty and guessing about where the US is headed”.

Chollet explained that Biden, like former President Barack Obama, struggled with an increasingly complex multipolar system in the world and tried to minimise damage at home and abroad: “Now, we’ve got the rise of China, we had a pandemic, and that we’re still struggling with, of course, and deeper domestic dysfunction in the United States. And Biden must give attention to that dysfunction,” he said.

Thus, the Joe Biden administration (which the RUSSTRAT Institute had written about ambiguously earlier, saying that Biden does not have his own foreign policy agenda), without widely advertising it, pursues the policy of the previous president Donald Trump in military relations with Europe. Donald Trump did not hesitate to say that the United States will no longer pay for the security of Europe due to a lack of resources from the United States itself.

The Joe Biden administration motivates the same actions with threats from China and internal political difficulties. It is not difficult to guess that the United States simply does not want to burden itself with Europe when they have to measure forces with China.

On November 19, Admiral Rob Bauer of the Royal Netherlands Navy, who is responsible for coordinating 30 NATO defence departments, said that the probability that China will be classified as an enemy of the alliance in the document “on the strategic concept of 2022” is very small.

“China is not physically adjacent to the Euro-Atlantic area, which is the geographically bounded area defining the NATO alliance,” he added. “The perspective from the U.S. is different because they are part of the Pacific. For them, the relationship is [a] different one than for NATO.”

In January 2021, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reported that China is not an opponent of the alliance. However, already in June of this year, he said that China’s military buildup, investments in the development of modern weapons, and “oppression of democracy” affect the interests of NATO and cause concern to alliance members.

Difficult times are coming for the NATO leadership, although the “Common Security and Defence Policy of Europe” – CSDP, was created back in the 1990s, and its development was rather slow, but the “European Defence Action Plan” exists within this concept.

In addition, in 2017, the EU established a Permanent Structured Cooperation program – PESCO, aimed at closer cooperation in the field of security and defence. Accordingly, there is already a structure that could replace NATO in the EU.

Donald Trump was going to withdraw American troops from Germany, it can be assumed that this or the next White House administration will implement this decision, since it was there that the most combat-ready units of the American army were withdrawn, having gained experience in Afghanistan.

The United States does not have time to form and train separate units to confront China, as soon as the corresponding military infrastructure in Southeast Asia is ready, it will be occupied by the most experienced units.

For Russia, such a development of the situation carries its own risks. Even now, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says that: “We will not turn a blind eye to the grossest provocations that we see on a daily basis from NATO members and more and more often from the European Union, including in its attempts to play along with the militarists in Ukraine.”

NATO has no other reason for existence, except as a confrontation with Russia, so the leadership of NATO and its individual members will draw from Russia a threat to Europe with increasing tenacity, just to preserve this alliance.

Thus, the theory of the RUSSTRAT Institute, expressed on September 1, 2021, about the US’ withdrawal from the Middle East (more on this here) and from Europe (here), finds its new explicit and visible confirmation.

Institute for International Political and Economic Strategies – RUSSTRAT

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