The USA's Withdrawal from Global Leadership: A Lesson for Europe

Ihor Petrenko

4 mins - 11 de Febrero de 2024, 22:00

In the context of growing uncertainty in transatlantic relations, especially with the possible return to power of Donald Trump in the United States, Europe is facing the need to strengthen its defence capabilities and economic independence. In other words, it is highly likely that Europe will face challenges related to the potential isolationist policy of the United States and the need to strengthen its own security and economic independence. First and foremost, it is necessary to intensify European defence production, increase military spending to a certain minimum of NATO member states' GDP, expand cooperation in digital security, and reduce dependence on key technologies from the United States and China. It is also important to preserve and strengthen democratic values and the rule of law in Europe. And here we should send our greetings to Orban, who is on the verge of invoking Article 7, which allows for the restriction of voting rights to a specific country that violates the EU's fundamental principles. All this requires concrete actions to strengthen European unity and autonomy in the context of global challenges and changes in international relations. And time is running out. It is naïve to think that even Biden's second term will change the situation for the better; he will certainly slow down these processes, but these issues will not disappear from the agenda. At least for now.

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This challenge is also relevant for Ukraine, which can learn important lessons from the analysis of the current situation in EU-US relations. First, Ukraine needs to continue to develop its own defence capabilities, given the possible reduction in external support. We need to develop and implement comprehensive strategies to increase our defence capability and military self-sufficiency. It is very important that we are now focusing on the development of defence industries, including joint production with partner countries. This is the right initiative of the President.  Secondly, economic independence and the ability to withstand economic shocks on its own is a critical need. The focus here should be on stimulating domestic production, diversifying exports, and reducing dependence on foreign markets. This requires leadership from the government, particularly the prime minister, but the momentum is still slow. Third, it is important for Ukraine to continue reforms that strengthen democracy and the rule of law, as this ensures the resilience of society in the face of external and internal challenges. Here, I would emphasise the continuation of reforms that ensure transparency of governance, fight against corruption and protection of citizens' rights. Finally, cooperation with Europe and deepening integration processes can serve as a solid foundation for overcoming future challenges, in particular in the context of strengthening defence capabilities and economic security.

Of course, this is not about being less friendly with someone or more friendly with someone. We just need to see the trends and set our national priorities accordingly. Despite having "dissenting opinions", Europeans have shown leadership in providing assistance to Ukraine. Unlike in the US, where the party struggle even goes beyond national security, which has not happened in the US for a long time. The dynamics of signing security agreements, or rather agreements on security assistance, also speaks volumes; European countries are also leading the way. In addition, given Ukraine's existing strong relations with the European Union and Volodymyr Zelenskyy's positive communication with key EU figures such as Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen and other key EU leaders, Ukraine should make the most of these relations for further integration and cooperation. This means speaking in unison on a wide range of issues. This includes not only support in defence and security policy, but also economic initiatives aimed at ensuring Ukraine's resilience and development.

And, of course, it is important that the EU itself is aware of this trend and takes the necessary decisions as quickly as possible. We need to build unity on this issue now. The days of "Business as Usual" under the US security umbrella are coming to an end.

By the way, the only time Article 5 of the Washington Treaty was applied was when European countries came to the aid of the United States after the terrorist attacks of 2001. At that time, the US helped the Baltic states and Ukraine. It is a pity that Trump does not know about this. The Poles were also involved then. That's why Trump's statements are irresponsible. Now the EU just needs to get out of the warm bath and actively build its own security system, together with Ukraine.
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