When Will Europe Finally Take Its Defense Seriously?

Analysis

Nick OttensNick Ottensis the founder and editor of the Atlantic Sentinel.
Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier
French jets fly in formation over the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle (Marine nationale)

France and Germany are calling for closer EU defense cooperation in a policy paper seen by Bloomberg News and supported by Italy, Spain and other nations.

The ambition isn’t new. Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel called for a “true European army” in 2018.

But the timing is conspicuous, coming days after President Donald Trump said he would pull 9,500 American troops out of Germany, bringing the total to a post-Cold War low of 25,000.

Will this finally convince Europeans to get serious about their own defense? Read more “When Will Europe Finally Take Its Defense Seriously?”

Trump Once Again Throws Europe Under the Bus

Opinion, Top Story

Nick OttensNick Ottensis the founder and editor of the Atlantic Sentinel.
Donald Trump Vladimir Putin
Presidents Donald Trump of the United States and Vladimir Putin of Russia meet in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018 (Kremlin)

There have been some constants in Donald Trump’s otherwise haphazard foreign policy. He will invariably side with Russia and against America’s allies in Europe. He sympathizes more with authoritarian regimes than democracies. He doesn’t believe in multilateralism or free trade.

Anything the president’s advisors or allies can portray as a show of “strength” Trump will support.

Anything his supporters in the Republican Party or the conservative media portray as “weakness”, whether it is consultations, compromises or concessions, Trump will resist.

The latest casualty of this simplistic, zero-sum worldview is the Open Skies Treaty, which includes most countries in the Northern Hemisphere and allows reciprocal flights over military facilities. Read more “Trump Once Again Throws Europe Under the Bus”

Nord Stream Sanctions Are No Way to Treat European Allies

Opinion

Nemanja PopovićNemanja Popovićis a political analyst.
American president Donald Trump speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel at the G20 summit in Hamburg, July 6, 2017
American president Donald Trump speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel at the G20 summit in Hamburg, July 6, 2017 (Bundesregierung)

Senators in the United States have approved sanctions against companies that are involved in building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany.

The sanctions, which President Donald Trump has yet to sign into law, are a last-ditch attempt to halt the pipeline’s construction, which the Americans argue will only increase Europe’s dependence on Russian gas and hurt Ukraine’s position as a transit nation.

They’re not wrong, but placing sanctions on allies is no way to go about it, especially when they have no alternative. Read more “Nord Stream Sanctions Are No Way to Treat European Allies”

British “Patriots” Kowtow to Trump

Opinion

Nick OttensNick Ottensis the founder and editor of the Atlantic Sentinel.
NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg, American president Donald Trump and British prime minister Theresa May attend a ceremony at NATO headquarters in Brussels, May 25, 2017
NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg, American president Donald Trump and British prime minister Theresa May attend a ceremony at NATO headquarters in Brussels, May 25, 2017 (NATO)

When Donald Trump won the American election in 2016, I warned his European admirers that they should not expect favors from him. Trump may be a kindred spirit, but his zero-sum view of the world was never going to benefit anyone else.

The sorry tale of the British ambassador to the United States, Kim Darroch, is a case in point. Read more “British “Patriots” Kowtow to Trump”

Different Player, Same Game

Analysis

Nemanja PopovićNemanja Popovićis a political analyst.
Presidents Andrzej Duda of Poland and Donald Trump of the United States answer questions from reporters at the White House in Washington DC, June 12
Presidents Andrzej Duda of Poland and Donald Trump of the United States answer questions from reporters at the White House in Washington DC, June 12 (White House/Shealah Craighead)

Donald Trump has not exactly shied away from advocating for better American relations with Russia. During his presidential campaign, he argued that “Russia and the United States should be able to work well with each other toward defeating terrorism and restoring world peace.” He has repeatedly praised Vladimir Putin and accepted his denials of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

But even Trump’s Russophilia is no match for geopolitical reality. Read more “Different Player, Same Game”

Mattis’ Resignation Shocks European Allies

News

Nick OttensNick Ottensis the founder and editor of the Atlantic Sentinel.
NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg speaks with Defense Secretary James Mattis and Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison of the United States going into a North Atlantic Council meeting in Brussels, February 14
NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg speaks with Defense Secretary James Mattis and Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison of the United States going into a North Atlantic Council meeting in Brussels, February 14 (NATO)

The resignation of American defense secretary James Mattis has shocked European allies, who were counting on the former Marine Corps general to protect them from the whims of President Donald Trump. Read more “Mattis’ Resignation Shocks European Allies”

Bush’s Ambivalent Yugoslavia Policy Shaped Transatlantic Relations for Decade

American president George H.W. Bush, Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney, French president François Mitterand and German chancellor Helmut Kohl attend the G7 summit in Munich, July 6, 1992
American president George H.W. Bush, Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney, French president François Mitterand and German chancellor Helmut Kohl attend the G7 summit in Munich, July 6, 1992 (Institut François Mitterand)

Reflections on George H.W. Bush’s legacy have generally emphasized his commitment to the transatlantic alliance and its benign consequences for Europe’s post-Cold War transition. Lost in the narrative is the former president’s ambivalence toward the restive movements on the outer edges the Soviet empire.

The result was a full-blown civil conflict in Yugoslavia that undermined America’s confidence in its European allies and fueled a unilateralist streak that would animate a decade of American-led interventions. Read more “Bush’s Ambivalent Yugoslavia Policy Shaped Transatlantic Relations for Decade”

What America’s Midterm Elections Mean for Europe

Analysis

Nick OttensNick Ottensis the founder and editor of the Atlantic Sentinel.
German chancellor Angela Merkel, American president Donald Trump, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and other G7 leaders meet in Charlevoix, June 8
German chancellor Angela Merkel, American president Donald Trump, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and other G7 leaders meet in Charlevoix, June 8 (Flickr/Justin Trudeau)

Congress doesn’t make foreign policy; the president does. So whether or not Donald Trump’s Republicans win or lose on Tuesday, America’s relations with its allies across the Atlantic are unlikely to change — for the better or worse. Read more “What America’s Midterm Elections Mean for Europe”

EU Shields Companies from Trump’s New Sanctions on Iran

News

Nick OttensNick Ottensis the founder and editor of the Atlantic Sentinel.
Donald Trump Giuseppe Conte
American president Donald Trump and Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte arrive to a NATO summit in Brussels, July 12 (NATO)

The European Union has announced measures to protect companies that do business with Iran from American sanctions.

The BBC reports that an EU “blocking statute” bans European firms from complying with the sanctions, unless they get approval from the European Commission.

It also enables businesses to recover damages resulting from American sanctions on Iranian cars, gold and other metals. Read more “EU Shields Companies from Trump’s New Sanctions on Iran”

When America First Meets Italy First

Analysis

Nick OttensNick Ottensis the founder and editor of the Atlantic Sentinel.
American president Donald Trump and Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte arrive to a NATO summit in Brussels, July 12
American president Donald Trump and Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte arrive to a NATO summit in Brussels, July 12 (NATO)

My latest post for the Atlantic Council’s New Atlanticist blog previews next week’s meeting between American president Donald Trump and Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte.

Although the leaders got along well at the recent G7 and NATO summits, and share views on immigration, international relations and trade, I wouldn’t be surprised if the meeting turned out to be a disappointment.

On both military spending and trade — Trump’s pet peeves when it comes to Europe — Conte’s government opposes the American president. Read more “When America First Meets Italy First”