These are the allies that joined the US’ campaign against Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan 17 years ago, and as of this writing, they continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the US even in an unwinnable war that has and continues to exact so much blood and resources. The alliance remains fast and steady in their determination to stand by the United States, which in turn has shown uncontested loyalty to its alliance with the European countries.
These are the allies that joined the US in the Iraq War, and however disastrous the war turned out to be, they never hesitated. They have sacrificed men, women, and treasure to the war efforts, and to this day they are still suffering from the consequences of this misguided war—a war that gave birth to ISIS and other violent extremist groups that have been terrorizing Europe while it struggles with waves of refugees flocking to its shores.
These are the allies who supported the US in its efforts to deal with wars and crises in the Middle East and Africa. Regardless of how bad and misguided some of these efforts were, be that in Libya, Syria, Iraq, or the Balkans, they remain consistent in their commitment to stand by America.
Every American President from Truman to Obama honored and took pride in America’s historic contribution to the rebuilding of Europe from the ashes of World War II, which led to the emergence of NATO and the European Union.
This was a testimony to America’s greatness, shining as the beacon of democracy and human rights, and inspiring scores of other nations to emulate it. America and our European allies stood together for what is right and moral, and made huge sacrifices to preserve the new exalted order.
That is, until Trump became the President of the United States. In short order, he shattered this most unique and successful alliance, questioned the value of NATO, and disgraced its leaders. He tore Europe apart and subjected it, along with America, to the whims of the West’s harshest enemy, Putin’s Russia.
Senator McCain put it succinctly, stating that Trump made “a conscious choice to defend a tyrant” and presented “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.” To be sure, Trump betrayed every principle and value the alliance has upheld, which raises a serious question as to what our allies should do now to save the alliance from being completely destroyed as a result of Trump’s treachery.
It is hard to imagine that while sharing the stage with an enemy on foreign soil, Trump openly sided with Putin over his own intelligence community’s findings about Russia’s meddling in the election while overturning decades-long US foreign policy toward Russia only to serve his narrow political interests.
Trump’s betrayal of our European allies will be remembered as the darkest chapter in the history of the NATO alliance, and it will not be rectified as long as Trump is in power. Trump’s bullying of our most cherished allies last week in Brussels while displaying unreserved respect for the West’s foremost nemesis—Putin—was unconscionably disgusting and outlandish, if not a betrayal.
To be sure, James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence, called Trump’s acquiescence to Putin “an incredible capitulation,” and former CIA chief John Brennan characterized it as “nothing short of treasonous.”
Due to this erratic behavior, Trump has now provided a historic opportunity for the EU to reassess its role and commitment to its alliance with the US. Whereas the EU must make every effort to preserve the integrity of the alliance, it must strive toward ending its psychological and emotional dependency on the US and anchor the alliance with America on a mutuality of strategic objectives.
That means the EU must be prepared to act unilaterally and independently when its collective national security interest is threatened, with or without the support of the US. The EU will be far more respected by the US and treated as an equal by assuming an independent posture, which must be sustained regardless of who occupies the White House.