Europe’s real problem isn’t that the French or Germans are brain-dead, but that they don’t agree—on the basic shape of the EU, on its defense policy, on its foreign-policy priorities. These disagreements don’t make progress on important EU issues impossible, but they make the process of reforming the union painfully slow, and they limit what can be done. To add to the complication, establishment political parties in both countries must increasingly fend off populist parties that bring very different ideas into the foreign-policy debate.
On the American side, the debate is also confused. The bipartisan foreign-policy establishment remains committed to NATO and to European defense, but it isn’t clear how strongly the presidential candidate of either party in 2020 will uphold this consensus. As concern about China grows across the American political spectrum, what roles will NATO and Europe play in U.S. strategy?