Donald Trump likes to present himself as a deal maker. Yet the president’s record in office suggests he likes to break deals as much as make them. Under Trump, the United States has abandoned a series of international agreements, including withdrawing or signalling an intention to withdraw from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia, the Iran nuclear deal, and the Paris climate agreement.

In October 2019, the White House effectively abandoned America’s Kurdish allies in Syria. Mr Trump has questioned NATO’s Article 5 collective defence clause. He has threatened Europe with tariffs and trade wars. He has publicly trashed multilateralism and pointedly withdrawn from United Nations bodies including the UN Human Rights Council.

America’s allies have noticed. French President Emmanuel Macron warned in November 2019 that the EU can no longer rely on America for its defence. He believes it is time for Europe to “wake up” and forge a more independent and self-reliant path.

What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Ginster, who agrees the EU can no longer depend on the United States. Our commenter argues simply that “Trump is unreliable”.

To get a response, we spoke to Dr. Hans Binnendijk, Senior Fellow at the SAIS Center for Transatlantic Relations and formerly a US National Security Council Senior Director for Defense Policy. What would he say?

President Trump has made a number of comments and taken a few actions which could certainly lead some people to believe that the United States is no longer as credible an ally as it has been over the past 70 years of the NATO alliance’s history. He said in his campaign that NATO is ‘obsolete’, he has raised some questions about Article 5, and certainly his decision in Syria to walk away from the Kurds there who have been fighting at our sides – all of this does raise questions, and I have seen that European public opinion polls indicate a very low degree of confidence in the United States right now, in large measure because of Trump’s policies.

Having said that, it’s also true that support for the NATO alliance is stronger today in the United States than I’ve ever seen it. In public opinion polls, 75% or more think we should maintain or strengthen our commitment to the alliance. There have been near-unanimous votes in the House of Representatives in support of the alliance. Since 2014, the United States has put together what is now called European Deterrence Initiative (EDI), which is about 8 billion dollars a year now, and we have moved some troops back into Europe. So, the picture is complicated…

To get another perspective, we also put Ginster’s comment to David O’Sullivan, former Ambassador of the European Union to the United States (2014-2019). What would he say?

Well, I think America is a very vibrant democracy and is clearly going through a phase of disruptive politics through the election of President Trump, and this is having a destabilising effect on relations with many allies. On the other hand, I think many of the fundamentals in the relationship with Europe remain extremely solid, and the last word has not yet been spoken on where America finally ends up on these issues.

So, I think it’s a fair point – and this was a point picked up by President Macron in his recent interview in The Economist – I think we as Europeans have to acknowledge that things are changing in the United States. The challenge for us, I think, is to distinguish between what is specific to this administration and may evolve in the future, and what are real shifts in fundamental American thinking about America’s role in international relations. That’s the challenge and I think probably the jury is still out on that question.

Can Europe still depend on the US? Or has America’s unilateralist turn made it too unreliable an ally? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: (cc) Flickr – European Council President; PORTRAIT CREDITS: Binnendijk (c) Defense News

40 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    Does Europe have to depend on the US?

  2. avatar

    No china is the only one we can trust, if greece expect help from Europe or USA agsinst the turkish then greece Will be destroy, i Hope Europe soon talk to europeans about the greek petrol and gas reserves, not only that we are corrupt and forøget Pay taxies

  3. avatar

    Can yes. It can should it no it shouldn’t. It should be a partnership not dependance.

  4. avatar

    It should have been settled 30 years ago. We built Europe for this reason

  5. avatar

    Due to the cultural affinity the US and the EU will always trust and rely on each other.

  6. avatar

    We need to stop waiting for USA
    . They just want destroy EU and rule as they want. Europe need to focus again.

  7. avatar

    EU is a failed continent, now needs the USA, as in the first and second Was. Disgusting our politicians.

  8. avatar

    As the question is listed under global/security I’ll comment only on that aspect. Yes, I think at the end of the day, Europe can count on US military intervention and security if the need arises whether it is Trump or whoever the next US president is.

  9. avatar

    A major military conflict between the atomic powers is no longer conceivable today, the climate would no longer be able to withstand the impact. Nuclear plants represent also a huge danger in the case of war.

  10. avatar

    Under republican majority in Congress, for sure. Under democrats, maybe.

  11. avatar

    No not while this mad max is in power.

  12. avatar

    U can only depend on being occupied by USA-military (just ask Germany), which can then allow for USA to push for its own agenda, and their agenda is NOT strong Europe, as that will compete with USA-markets.
    Face it – if we had closer ties with Asia, our Economy would have squashed USAs. How convenient ;) that the Russians are again “enemy number one”.

  13. avatar

    USA is the big brother and the EU the little one. Sometimes we can relay on them but never trust.

  14. avatar

    Europe has to rely on itself ….and have free policy towards any other super power. ….even militarily. ..we must only rely on ourselves and stop being puppets.We have the brains and what lacks is goodwill.

  15. avatar

    EU is the the hands of Wall Street, Goldman Sachs and other criminals, nothing we can do…

  16. avatar

    We are allies.
    Can the US still depend on the EU?
    The EU refused to support Trump in renegotiating trade with China, so China now dumps the steel that it couldn’t sell in the US on the EU.
    A strategic industry will be ruined, industrial production and GDP will be impacted, and tens of thousands will lose their livelihood because of the incompetece and political posturing of EU leaders. Yet nobody talks about it becase we enjoy so much free speech and free press.

  17. avatar

    I think it all depends if Trump is re-elected next year – if he is then No, Europe can absolutely not depend on the US anymore. If a democratic candidate wins on the other hand I think transatlantic relations will flourish again.
    I do take issue with the word “depend” though – Europe should in no case depend on the US – being dependent on someone suggests that you can’t survive on your own. I think that Europe should definitely not be dependent on the US. However, it does need to be able to trust in its partners, especially that they will uphold agreements. And under Trump a whole lot of trust has been lost…

  18. avatar

    Why Europe should be sacrificing to make the US great again? How can Europe depend on a declining superpower who is now withdrawing from all peace-making treaties, not paying for the United Nations and who has released itself from using nuclear weapon, when the US has more than enough nuclear weapon to destroy the whole world do not know how many times!

  19. avatar

    Ever since World War II, Europe has been depending on the US for postwar reconstruction and development when China has been under serious sanction on everything. After more than 7 decades of depending on the US, Europe is crying to prevent itself from decline, while China appears to be rising confidently. What can we see here is that Europe has been going to war to sustain the hegemonic power of the US, while wasting resources that should be investing for development. Macron is totally correct, NATO is brain dead for it cannot bring peace and security to Europe, instead, the US unilateralism has been causing damage than benefit to Europe. The Arab Spring has led to the influx of refugees but Obama had abandoned everything and rushed back to the Asia Pacific for the containment of a rising China. The sudden withdrawal of over 60% of the most advanced US troops to Asia Pacific has left a rising ISIS and humanitarian issue of refugees for Europe to handle… Has not this exactly demonstrating a brain dead process of NATO too?

  20. avatar

    Anyway, the US is using its entire strength for the containment of China, the Indo-Pacific system is dominating over the NATO. The US has leaving behind a brain dead NATO to secure US dominance in Europe, while trying to establish a minor NATO in Asia Pacific and India. The US has no money and no time to take care Europe. Europe has to depend on itself as Angela Merkel has once said recently. Just don’t know why she has changed her mind…

  21. avatar

    Europe can always rely on the US,it cannot however rely on it’s current president,but rest assured NATO will still be here long after Trump has died in prison.
    What can’t be allowed to happen however is to go along with this ridiculous idea of Europe creating it’s own’d be a mirror image of the current EU, totally dysfunctional.Putin would love it.

    • avatar

      Europe is not a parasite relying on anything to survive. Europe has created the entire modern nation state system with the Westphalian Treaty, why Europe needs to rely on a newly emerged salad bowl nation, the US? What is more ridiculous than an advanced civilization of the contemporary history to give up its independence and relying for survival from a declining hegemon on the other side of the Ocean. Dan’s idea Trump would love it too! But what European people love is most important.

  22. avatar

    Even if we could. We should be able to stand own our own feet.

  23. avatar

    It appears that the US has tied strings on Europe and spoon-feeding intelligence, at the same time, it is alleged that Denmark is helping the US to collect intelligence on senior officials of Germany, France, Sweden and Norway but Europe is helping the US to sanction Huawei for security reason. It appears that Europe is also developing brain-dead .

  24. avatar

    We have all witnessed that the US has signed an agreement with Taliban, the freedom fighter of US president Ronald Reagan and also the terrorist of George W Bush, Obama and Trump. We don’t really know whether the Taliban are terrorists or freedom fighters. As we have seen how the whole US military base was vacated and soldiers escaped at night time without notifying its ally, the Afghan government… . who can still believe that Europe can still depend on the US?

  25. avatar

    Encouraged and supported by the US battle ships and and fighter jets, the UK Carrier Strike Group 2021, led by HMS Queen Elizabeth went to challenge China in the South China sea. However, when the strike group arrived the S.China Sea, the US Defense Secretary said that Britain is more helper closer to home than in Asia… Can Europe still depend on the US?

  26. avatar

    The situation in Afghanistan has clearly shown us that an EU army is essential for collective security of Europe as Emmanuel Macron and Angela Mekerel have advocating.

  27. avatar

    After the Afghanistan evacuation, we must question seriously politicians who are still advocating pro-US and anti-China policy. They are betraying Europe citizens for narrow personal interests. We can all see that the US has reduced into purely a military power relying on debts to survive, while China is rising as a global economic power. It is only a choice between war and peace and development.

  28. avatar

    The recent Australia scraps of the French submarine deal in favour of the nuclear submarine contract offered by the US has clearly told Europe that the US, UK and Australia is destroying international effort to prevent the total destruction of mankind by a nuclear war with the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. EU, China and Russia must join hand with regional organizations particularly ASEAN to protect the Treaty, otherwise, the world would have no legal base to restrict Iran, North Korea and other countries in developing nuclear weapon. As the US and UK have the veto power in the UN, UN would never be able to handle this issue effectively.

    • avatar

      With this recent development, EU should not dream of depending on the US. EU must stop its cooperation with the UK as it would never become a reliable partner of Europe, if the country has determined to scrap the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, it is not a country work for peace of mankind. The NATO membership would unavoidably draw EU into a nuclear war. EU ought to withdraw its membership and build an independent army. It is time EU has to make a decision between world peace or total destruction of mankind.

  29. avatar

    Australia stabbed the French at the back. At the back of the Australia are the US and the UK. So, can Europe still depend on the US? When Europe has been sacrificing its interest to sanction Iran for its development of nuclear weapon, the US is now shattering the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by turning Australia a nuclear power…Can Europe still depend on the US?

  30. avatar

    I think it is only weapon of mass destruction the US left. US allowed Japan’s disposal of nuclear polluted water into the Pacific Ocean is a deal for an anti-China policy. Equally, the US is unable to compensate the economic loss of Australia to anti-China, allowing Australia to become a nuclear power is the only way to satisfy Australia. EU political leaders ought to step up to prevent US shattering the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. To prevent the recurrence of the third devastating world war, European states united together for peace and prosperity is the reason EU is establish. It is the time EU to stop the stupid idea to harvest benefit as an onlooker of the US and China confrontation, even worse, deliberately to use stupid idea to threaten China’s territorial integrity and fabricated human rights issue. Chinese people are enjoying an unprecedented prosperity and peace under the government of the Communist Party, the more attack from foreign power, the more support the Chinese people would be given to the CCP. Everyone ought to see the overwhelming welcome and support of the Hong Kong people to the legislation of the HKSAR National Security Security law after the anti-extradiction law riots in 2019.

  31. avatar

    The current American “Summit for Democracy” has left out Hungary, Hungarian people ought to celebrate for this means the country is still sovereign and refuses to turn itself a decoration of a “fallen democracy”. Its government is putting priority of the people before making the American Great. Those countries attended this summit ought to voice out what is real democracy and teach the US a good lesson. This is the duty and responsibility of political leaders of real democracy.

  32. avatar

    In my opinion, it is the US depending on Europe now. The US has to pay for Lithuania to help confronting China instead of ordering EU to follow US confrontational policy. This is time Europe needs to strengthen its collective security policy and foreign policy so as to govern for Europe interests rather than US interest. This is essential to prevent small member states acting against collective EU policy. Taking the current Taiwan issue, as EU accepted one China policy as stipulated in the UN, which is Taiwan is the sovereign territory of China. The People’s Republic of China is the sole legally recognized government representing China. Upon the consent of PRC, Taiwan can join the international community in the name of Taipei, China. Lithuania unilaterally changed the name of Taipei office to Taiwan office is against EU principle and policy. In this way, EU supports Lithuania means giving up EU policy and submit to US policy.

Your email will not be published

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Notify me of new comments. You can also subscribe without commenting.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies on your device as described in our Privacy Policy unless you have disabled them. You can change your cookie settings at any time but parts of our site will not function correctly without them.