From Julian Lindley-French, the New Atlanticist: [G]iven Europe’s strategic retreat/pretense the only outstanding issue is the relevance of Europeans to America’s grand strategy. If none then both NATO and indeed Europe’s future defense will fail. Last week in Poland I was struck by the self-delusion of many Europeans with regard to this most fundamental of strategic questions. There was much talk of Europe’s strategic autonomy even as cuts of up to 30% to European defense budgets mean Europe will be more not less reliant on the US for its defense. Implicit in that reality is another question that Europeans seem almost psychotically determined to avoid; what price an over-stretched America will demand to guarantee the future defense of Europe?
The crux of the matter is essentially simple. If France in particular, aided and abetted inadvertently by the likes of Greece and Turkey, continue to block NATO’s true transformation into a strategic alliance nothing is more certain to guarantee the formation of an Anglosphere beyond the Alliance and with it the demise of the key Franco-British strategic defense partnership. Indeed, the vain hope by some (it is thankfully only some) in Paris that by stymieing NATO somehow an autonomous strategic Europe will be fashioned from the wreckage is profoundly misguided (with genuine respect Paris).
The North Atlantic Council has been reduced by this impasse to little more than marking the card of Supreme Allied Commander Admiral Jim Stavridis and his team rather than acting as the font of strategic guidance. This narrowing of the NAC’s role has not only killed the Strategic Concept but made it impossible for Allied Command Transformation to do its job; transform Alliance militaries. . . .
If NATO is to be finally prepared for its post-Afghanistan, post 911 future it is vital the Alliance as a whole lifts its ‘vision’ from the parochial trench it has dug for itself. That means a NATO that again raises the Atlantic, the transatlantic, in a century that will be full of icebergs.
Julian Lindley-French is Eisenhower Professor of Defence Strategy at the Netherlands Defence Academy, Fellow of Respublica in London, Associate Fellow of the Austrian Institute for European and Security Studies and a member of the Strategic Advisory Group of the Atlantic Council. He is also a member of the Academic Advisory Board of the NATO Defence College in Rome. This essay first appeared on his personal blog, Lindley-French’s Blog Blast.