For many years Europeans were used to the US carrying most of the burden of defending Europe against the military threat of the Soviet Union and later against the threat of its successor the Russian Federation.
With the advent of “America first”, a policy that sometimes resembles good old isolationism, that era seems to come to an end.
Given Europe’s widespread anti-Americanism one would think that Europe would welcome such an opportunity to become independent from the “hegemon” America with open arms. One would think that Europe would cheer at the prospect of having all US troops leaving Europe.
Instead Europe reacts with fear, insecurity and crazy conspiracy theories.
US-President Donald Trump is right when he calls for Europe to pay its fair share of NATO.
There was a time when it was necessary for the US to carry the lion’s share of Europe’s military defense.
After the second world war Europe was economically bankrupt, flattened and laying in ruins.
Millions had died in wars, in famines and in concentration camps.
There was nothing that could prevent Stalin’s Red Army from steamrolling over Europe except a massive American military presence in Europe.
Europe’s economies and Europe’s militaries had to be built up with huge economic support from the US (the Marshall plan) in order for them to make any meaningful contribution to Europe’s defense.
Today it’s a very different story. Europe’s combined GDP is greater than that of the US and Russia is viewed by the US as a greater threat to Europe than to the US.
Why is Europe refusing to pay its fair share of NATO?
The answer is that, obviously, Europeans do not view Russia as a threat.
This, of course, is not true for the countries that were involontary members of the former Soviet bloc but for the rest of Europe it is.
Why then have Europeans uneasy feelings at the thought of the US leaving them alone and forcing them to defend themselves?
The answer has to do with Europe’s history.
The EU is selling the myth that it is the institution of the EU that is guaranteeing peace in Europe by having the European countries trading and working with each other instead of shooting at each other. This myth has become the EU’s reason of existence and everytime the unelected EU bureaucrats see their power threatened by attempts to take power away from them and giving it to the nation states and their peoples the horror scenario of a return to nationalism and war is invoked.
The truth, however, is that it was never the EU that kept the peace in Europe.
It was the massive presence of US military on European soil and the threat of Soviet aggression as well as the integration in the NATO alliance that forced self-restraint and discipline upon the Europeans.
It is no coincidence that after an unprecedented period of peace the wars in Yugoslavia erupted just when the Soviet Union had collapsed.
It became abundandly clear that Europe was not able to handle the situation and in the end the US had to come to the rescue.
For all its glorious culture and splendid civilization, Europe is a continent that through its history of thousands of years was almost constantly plagued by wars, massacres and pogroms. The current era of peace is unprecedented in Europe’s history.
This brings me to Europe’s dirty little secret.
Many Europeans view Americans as unsophisticated, uncultivated cowboys but deep down Europeans know that under the thin crust of European civilization war, barbarism and brutality is never far away. We Europeans know what we are capable of doing. The carnage of two world wars is ample proof of it.
The thing that Europeans fear most are other Europeans.
There is perhaps a better, brighter future but the EU is not the solution.
Other than its name “European Union” implies the EU causes increasingly division and antagonism among the European countries. Brexit and the dispute between the EU and the Vizegrad states with regards to the “refugee crisis” are only the most recent examples.