The US “pivot” to Asia, withdrawal of US forces from Europe, and lack of attention to the region in President Obama’s major visits and speeches suggest the United States no longer sees Europe as a worthy partner. However, the administration should think twice before writing it off as a strategic ally.

In his recent Financial Times article “Gloomsters buried the euro too soon,” Phillip Stephens argues that eurozone pessimists went wrong by underestimating the political will of European leaders. As he explained, what started as the Greek bailout crisis turned into a zealous endeavor to preserve not only the common currency, but also the admirable legacy, values, and accomplishments of a much broader political union.

Similarly, much has been said about Europe’s political will, or lack thereof, to share responsibility for transatlantic security with their militarily mightier partner across the Atlantic.

But just as the eurozone skeptics seem to be proven wrong, if 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.

Naturally, one cannot ignore worrisome reductions in European defense spending and the capabilities shortfalls the above mentioned missions revealed. However, and despite the defense budget crisis, when combined, the military strength of European allies by far exceeds that of any potential enemy. As Kori Schake rightly argues, “Europe looks weaker than it is because too often it wants to fight wars as the US does, not as the Europeans can.” Thus, US ambition and expectations aside, European allies are willing and able to do precisely what they signed up for in the Washington Treaty—to protect the territorial integrity of the Alliance and to take “such action as they deem necessary” to defend an ally in need. And they have proven to be able to do much more.

Therefore, as 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.

Europe might yet assume a fair share of global security responsibilities, although it will probably never match US ambition, power, and its global footprint.

But when 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.

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