As a European-American in New York following the news on both sides of the Atlantic, I can readily see the flow of opinion from the US to Europe and the US pressure with regard to Russia and Ukraine. Those who hesitate will soon find themselves in the spotlight of American Media. Combined with political leverage, this seems to be working well.
This is not new. In recent decades, European NATO members have supported US interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, often despite protests from their own people. Without even mentioning the effect on the people in these countries, in all campaigns, the result for Europe was negative: unstable neighboring countries, loss of lives, destroyed economies, waves of refugees facing new obstacles far from their homes, expenditures without the hoped-for success, and increased internal tensions.
In Ukraine, Europe was and is following the lead of the USA and is hoping for a better outcome. A prolonged conflict and further escalation are expected. The continent is more divided. Protected by two oceans, the US can feel safer, but the conflict harbors the greatest risks and consequences for the Old Continent. Much has already been written and said that a US-led NATO may have provided the motivation for Russias invasion in Ukraine, most recently also mentioned by the Pope. The question therefore arises as to why Europe does not lead its own independent security and foreign policy. A US dominated NATO takes away the need. It also brings US-led rivalries and conflicts into Europe.
The world needs the voice of an independent Europe. A withdrawal of the US army, especially from Germany, could open the way for this. The US deserves immeasurable thanks for what this country has done for Europe, but the security structure put in place after WWII appears to be now working against everyone involved. Sequential US Presidents have been elected in hopes of reducing global military intervention for the benefit of their own country. US infrastructure, security and equality in education and health care continue to lag far behind Western and Northern Europe. During the Trump administration, there was consideration of withdrawing troops from Germany and leaving NATO. It may seem paradoxical at a time of conflict, but one can ask whether this move would ease tensions. A strict defense purpose would be more credible in a European Treaty Organization, and new entries less burdened than entry into NATO with a history of interventions.
The idea of a European or any other military base on its own soil would be anathema to the USA. US citizens comprehend the importance of security independence. We all know the risks and have the means to avoid them, but are nevertheless in danger of a major escalation encouraged by a transatlantic collective. Checks and balances through European independence should be welcomed by all, including the USA. If Ukraine serves as a warning sign of what could happen in Asia, then now is the opportunity to question existing structures and to have a discussion about the benefits of European security independence.
By Dieter Egli, PhD
Dieter Egli is a US citizen from Switzerland with a PhD from the University of Zurich, and Professor at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, USA.
This is a "Viewpoint" opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or position of The Helsinki Times. This column is not fact checked and HT is not be responsible for any possible inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article.