America’s allies in Europe are watching closely as the US presidential election draws to a close.
Relations within the Alliance have become strained after Donald Trump came to power in the United States, and analysts say some European capitals are hoping that if Joe Biden wins, ties between NATO allies will become more stable.
Other European NATO allies have welcomed President Trump’s demands on alliance partners to increase defense spending as the European continent faces a number of strategic challenges at its borders.
Shortly after winning in 2016, Trump called NATO an “outdated” bloc because, he said, the organization was oblivious to the problem of terrorism. This alarmed NATO allies, frightened by Russia’s violent annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
By 2017, Trump’s rhetoric had changed. By hosting NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House in April of that year, Trump reaffirmed his support for the alliance.
“The Secretary General and I productively discussed what else NATO can do in the fight against terrorism. I complained about this a long time ago and they made changes. And now they are fighting terrorism, “Trump told reporters then.
Security analyst Julie Norman of University College London recently told Voice of America that Europe is concerned about Trump’s unpredictability.
“His foreign policy, as a rule, was rather reckless, rather unpredictable. And, of course, this is not exactly what the Allies need. An ally must be reliable, especially an ally like the United States, which has traditionally been a heavyweight, ”said Norman.
What do NATO allies think of Biden? According to Ian Bond, director of foreign policy at the Center for European Reforms, since foreign policy issues have not yet been discussed during the election campaign, one should pay attention to Biden’s track record.
“We know that Trump is not a friend of NATO, and we believe that Biden, judging by his past experience, is much more supportive of the alliance, which remains the cornerstone of British security, as well as European security in general,” Bond said in an interview. To the Voice of America “.
Trump supporters often say that he should be judged by his actions, not by his words. The president oversaw the 2017 deployment of US troops and equipment to Poland as part of NATO’s Forward Expanded Mission, the largest such operation by the bloc since the Cold War. Trump is still popular in Poland and other countries that were previously in the USSR’s zone of influence. According to Norman, some of these states prefer Donald Trump to remain in the White House.
Hard truth for Europe
Trump accused Germany of “late payments” for NATO needs and said that he plans to withdraw 20,000 troops stationed in Germany. Despite his harsh tone, the president is telling the truth that Europe does not want to hear, said political columnist Matthew Parris, a former British conservative lawmaker.
“He was instinctively right in many ways – perhaps it was necessary to fight back against China on trade issues. Perhaps the results of the COVID epidemic in America and Britain will be similar. Trump was right about NATO spending. He is right that many European countries are failing to fulfill their responsibilities, ”Parris said in a recent interview with VOA.
Trump is taking an increasingly hard line on China. “That won’t change, whoever wins the fight for the White House,” Norman said. “Many Democrats, including Biden, share some of the fears Trump and many Europeans have about China.”
Leslie Vinjamuri, program director for US and American affairs at the Chatham House Institute in London, believes that the biggest differences among transatlantic allies are related to climate change. Many in Europe believe that Biden is more sympathetic to their point of view.
“This is … a collective problem that the Europeans can only solve if they work with the United States and China. … I think it is very clear for Europe that the stakes in this election are extremely high, based on what is perhaps the most important issue at the global level in the next 10 or 15 years, ”says Vinjamuri.
Europe faces multiple strategic challenges, from the Russian threat and conflicts in Libya and the Middle East to tensions with Turkey. Despite the EU’s calls for the bloc to be more self-sufficient, analysts believe the US is likely to play a key role in each of these arenas. The allies are keeping a close eye on who the residents of the United States choose as their next commander in chief.