The Real Zeitenwende: A Europe That Defends Itself,

Stephen Wertheim, Senior Fellow, American Statecraft Program

When German Chancellor Olaf Scholz proclaimed the war in Ukraine to be a Zeitenwende, or turning point, in the history of Europe, he expressed a noble aspiration. But although it is fairly clear in which direction Germany and Europe is turning – toward strengthening the security of the continent and separating itself from the Russian economy – the final destination has yet to be determined. And without an end goal in sight, good intentions will remain just that. Future historians will judge 24 February 2022 be a turning point that failed to turn.

The destination should be this: Europe must become responsible for and capable of defending itself. Anything less would constitute a failure. True, it would be quite a change if Germany led the way in increasing military spending and the European continent weaned itself off of Russian oil and gas. But as long as Europe depends on the United States for its security, the continent will remain insecure. Today’s Washington has other priorities, strained resources and tempestuous politics. None of these problems will go away anytime soon. Of course, Europe should welcome the United States to play a supporting role within NATO, but it would be a mistake to rely on American protection. Germany’s national security strategy should state that within this decade, Europe should take the lead in its own defense. […]

Strikingly, despite the outrage over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Washington has never wavered in recognizing that China poses a greater threat to US interests than Russia. If US forces are needed for a major operation in Asia, Europe should expect to be left in the lurch – opening the door for Russian adventurism. Läs artikel