Another finding confirms that Europeans now favor an independent foreign and security policy instead of continuing to be Washington’s junior partner. The report summary concludes that respondents “want to see the European Union come of age as a geopolitical actor and chart its own course.” Both public and governmental sentiment is building in favor of a “Europeans only” military force independent of NATO, with French President Emmanuel Macron leading the charge for that option.
The easy, intellectually lazy explanation is to blame Trump’s abrasive, “isolationist” statements for the erosion of transatlantic solidarity. But that erosion was well underway before Trump emerged on the scene, and it applied even to NATO’s core mission of collective defense. Judy Dempsey, a senior fellow at Carnegie Europe — a thoroughly establishment think tank — was alarmed by the results of a 2015 Pew Research Center survey of eight NATO countries. In particular, she noted the responses to Article 5, the core of NATO’s commitment to collective defense, which requires members to defend an ally if it is attacked. The Pew poll, she wrote, “showed that among Europeans, a median of 49 percent of respondents thought their country should not defend an ally, a response that exposes a lack of commitment to collective defense.” Indeed, France, Italy and Germany all had majorities opposed to fulfilling their country’s obligation to fulfill the Article 5 treaty pledge to consider an attack on any NATO member as an attack on all.
The bottom line is that the concept of transatlantic solidarity, even on collective defense, is now largely confined to out-of-touch political elites on both sides of the Atlantic.