On the face of it, European security is taken seriously these days. Everything from Russian aggression, to migratory pressures, to terrorist attacks has jolted Western European leaders out of their post-Cold War complacency. The United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union, as well as Donald Trump’s arrival in the White House, further concentrated European minds.
As a result, political leaders have reconfirmed NATO as prime provider and guarantor of security in Europe, underpinned by reinforced U.S. engagement and allied commitment to live up to promises of defense investment given in the recent past.
The European Union, after merely dabbling in it for years, has leaned into the area of defense with a flurry of activities and new formats meant to encourage European production of defense and security goods complementary to those provided by NATO, also with the aim of strengthening Europe’s defense industry. NATO-E.U. cooperation, for a long time a bugbear, is flourishing.
So, can the “all clear” be sounded in Europe? Unfortunately, not.
To understand why, Europeans and Americans need to address three elephants crowding the room of European security — some familiar, some less so. As so often with indoor pachyderms, they irritate, as they confront us with our inability to address them and our tendency to tiptoe around them.
The three European security elephants will resonate differently depending on which side of the Atlantic you reside. But they need to be seen, and tackled, together. (end of excerpt)
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