Tabnak – Since the beginning of his career as the President of the United States, Donald Trump has shown that he is seriously committed to most part of his campaign promises. In this vein, it seems that Trump’s positions during his electoral campaign on the necessity of reducing the US role in NATO are also being realized, especially when we consider the latest remarks by his Defense Secretary James Mattis.
During a speech in front of his counterparts from the other NATO member-states, Mattis echoed Trump’s positions, saying that the US allies should either increase their military spending or face a decline in American support for their defense. Although he didn’t point out to any specific details, observers believe that his warning has been taken seriously by the US allies.
The most challenging part of the issue for other NATO members, especially those in the Eastern Europe is that they have been seeing themselves faced with a persistent threat from Russia. Now, Trump’s previous cordial gestures toward Moscow, has become combined with a revisionist policy toward the US role in NATO and this adds to the concerns among the Europeans.
In fact, the nature of future US-Russia relationship has recently become one of the focal points of debates about Trump’s domestic and foreign policies. The debates became even hotter when Trump’s National Security Advisor Michael Flinn was forced to resign over his exposed relations with the Russians.
All in all, according to Mattis, the NATO member-states have to increase their share in the organization’s military spending by the end of the year and devote at least 2 percent of their GDPs to this purpose. This is while, according to a report by the New York Times, due to the complicated economic situation in most part of the Europe, the public opinion in these countries is mostly against such an act and moving in this direction could further challenge the European governments.
Reviewing the positions taken by the European countries so far, it is almost certain that they are indeed willing to have a greater share in preserving their own security, but the most important part of the problem currently is devising a time-table to do so. In such circumstances, there is another possibility that some countries in the Europe may double their efforts to have a leadership role in the continent, both in the political and security sphere.
In fact, after Brexit such willingness has been visible in the positions taken by some German officials and there have been some discussions on the possibility that Germany takes a greater role in preserving the European Union and preventing its total collapse.
However, given the unfavorable status of German armed forces, especially regarding the military hardware – which has been remained mostly underdeveloped after the World War II – it needs a partner to act as the military arm of the Europe. Some observers suggest that France could play such a role, but in this case, this very much depends on the results of the upcoming election in the country. Should a hardline nationalist figure like Marine Le Pen come to power in France, it could be regarded as the last nail on the coffin of an integrated Europe.
All in all, the pressures posed by the US administration on the European countries to increase their military role, could be both a challenge and an opportunity for them. If they could survive the current crisis as an integrated body, the hopes for a long-lasting unified Europe might last long. Otherwise, every single country should manage the so-called "Russian Threat” and the other challenges separately, with a gloomy future facing the European countries.