More and more, Donald Trump's mood swings and the U.S. administration's erratic stances are creating tangible unease among Washington's European allies. It is a fact that, since the World War II, Western European countries have decided to align themselves under the military and political guidance of the United States, against the threat posed by the Soviet Union.
The fear of Red Army divisions breaking on western Europe has been very important motivation for the Europeans to depend almost exclusively on the American military for their security. There have been sporadic outbursts of national pride, especially in Charles de Gaulle's France, but they have never been followed by durable political changes. The Atlantic nature of the military alliance has never been truly questioned. Although the British and French nuclear striking forces remained "independent," it is obvious that their existence is owed much to U.S. intelligence and technology.
In a very interesting book, "Verbatim," Jacques Attali relates the U.S.-France negotiations over nuclear armaments, under the Reagan and Mitterrand administrations. He explains how bluntly the U.S. representatives told the French president to align his country with Washington. Otherwise, they added, France would be deprived of the necessary technological support for nuclear armaments.
Needless to say, Ronald Reagan and François Mitterrand came to an agreement despite very violent altercations behind closed doors and gave a very sympathetic picture for the media. Nevertheless, this was taking place in the 1980s, when the political and military supremacy of the United States was not questioned at all.
It is also worth mentioning that both western European countries and the U.S. have benefited from this division of responsibilities. The American military industry flourished, practically becoming the world's largest exporter of military equipment, and most of the European countries, especially Germany, have attained a very high degree of social support and protection, partially thanks to the savings they made on military expenses.
With the demise of the Soviet system, the whole balance of power changed, but nobody knows exactly how it was tilted and what would be an alternative new order. A new and peaceful world order could have been implemented if the American administrations were more dependable, like under Woodrow Wilson in 1919 or Franklin D. Roosevelt during WW II. But unfortunately for all of us humans, we had a number of short-sighted neoconservative administrations. They were led by Reagan, George Bush and George W. Bush, who have asserted, in a very blunt way, the U.S.'s dominant power all over the world. This has given very negative results over time, only amended slightly by the Clinton and Obama administrations. The deal made between Reagan first and then Bush Sr. and Gorbachev was not to enlarge NATO any further and collaborate with the Soviets in peaceful areas, giving a preponderant role to the United Nations.
The deal was not enforced and the Yeltsin era that followed Gorbachev is remembered by the Russians as a period of shame and disdain, where a transition from centrally planned socialist economy toward market economy has been a continuous series of debacles. The leader that emerged from this obscure period was Vladimir Putin.
Now that Donald Trump has been elected to the presidency of the U.S., all former neocon leaders look like choirboys, pertaining to the bluntness of U.S. politics and unpredictability of the administration. We learn through tweets the essential stances of the U.S. foreign policy, which are almost as unpredictable as Trump's mood swings. Bedrock agreements (like free trade or nuclear armaments) are put aside easily by a president who has probably not heard of the phrase "pacta sunt servanda."
The European countries are in an urgent need to establish a coherent and common foreign policy, independent of the U.S., for the first time since WW II. Turkey, in that entire quagmire, needs to define clearly its stance and political positioning. Any step that takes Turkey away from the EU will have negative effects in the end. How will we get closer to the EU and distance ourselves safely from the Trump administration remains the very complicated question to be answered.
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