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What's Really Undermining NATO? Europe's Yearning for Neutrality.

September 18, 2019 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

Most members of the United States’ foreign policy establishment continue to regard NATO and the broader transatlantic relationship as the linchpin of Washington’s global foreign policy. They have greeted President Trump’s periodic demands for more burden-sharing from European allies and his dark hints that NATO might be obsolete with hostility bordering on hysteria. But Trump is not the main threat to transatlantic solidarity. A shift in European public opinion toward neutrality is sounding the real death knell.


new report from the European Council on Foreign Relations contains a number of startling findings. The survey, covering 60,000 people in 14 European Union countries, suggests that the reasons for a sharp divergence in European and American perspectives on an array of foreign policy issues are wider and deeper than annoyance with Trump. That is evident even with regard to NATO’s mission of standing up to Russia. When asked “Whose side should your country take in a conflict between the United States and Russia?” the majority of respondents in all 14 E.U. countries said “neither.”

response to the report by Annabelle Timsit, a French American journalist, typifies the simplistic reaction from NATO partisans in both Europe and the United States. “Donald Trump has damaged America’s standing in the world in his three years as president, and nowhere is this more apparent than in Europe,” she writes. Timsit emphasizes the report’s finding that Europeans “no longer believe that the US can serve as the guarantor of their security.”



Yet she glosses over the breathtaking extent of neutralist sentiment among Washington’s supposed security partners. In France, only 18 percent would back the United States, while 63 percent opt for neutrality; in Italy, it’s 17 percent vs. 65 percent, and in Germany, 12 percent to 70 percent.

The results were similar even in NATO’s newer East European members, despite their greater exposure to Russian pressure and potential aggression. Hungarian respondents selected neutrality …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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