From Simona Kordosova, New Atlanticist[I]f challenged, Europe is more willing and able to carry the security burden than its reputation indicates.  After all, history, as well as recent events, gives us the very right to believe so:

  • More than a decade ago, the first and only invocation of Article 5 led Europe to punch above its weight in Afghanistan, contributing almost 40 percent of the troops deployed over the past twelve years.
  • In the aftermath of the 2003 invasion to Iraq, European nations provided over 15,000 troops to assist combat, intelligence, and reconstruction operations during the controversial US-led Multi-National Force–Iraq.
  • At the onset of the Arab Spring in early 2011, a coalition of the willing led by France and the United Kingdom helped trigger the operation over Libya under NATO command, giving birth to the “leading from behind” doctrine, a previously unknown concept in US foreign policy.
  • France’s ongoing military operation against Islamist rebels in northern Mali, which has involved 3,700 ground troops, has proven that in some instances, Europe indeed can serve as a security guarantor, even if the United States won’t. . . .

[A]s the new US national security team assumes its respective positions, it’s time to let go the “pivotal” rhetoric of the past year and appreciate the European allies for what they are as opposed to blaming them for what they are not. And treat them as such by not discounting their sacrifice and commitment. . . .

[W]hen it comes to preserving the transatlantic link and defending its core values and ideals, the United States might find in Europe exactly what it calls for: a reliable friend, a stalwart ally, and a willing partner that the United States will find itself in need of even in a post-Atlantic century.

Simona Kordosova is an assistant director with the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security