Europe’s biggest worry is that in a world of great power competition between the U.S. and China, it will be left by the wayside. The recent decision by President Donald Trump to withdraw from the the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, a Cold War-era agreement designed to keep mid-range nuclear weapons out of Europe, stoked those fears. The Trump administration took the decision without engaging Washington’s European allies, even though Europe would be most exposed to the Russian nukes.
U.S. officials say the decision was driven both by years of evidence that Russia had stopped complying with the treaty and concerns that China, which is not party to the INF and has deployed similar nuclear weapons in Asia, was gaining a strategic advantage.
What frustrated the Europeans was that they had virtually no voice on an issue of existential importance to them.
“A strategic question of the highest order for Europeans was decided for reasons that lie outside of Europe, but have massive implications,” said Jan Techau, director of the Europe program at the German Marshall Fund of the U.S., a think tank. “You can see that we’re given secondary consideration at best.”