Why the Washington Summit Should Focus on Europe

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Executive Summary

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to massive and unprecedented increases in European defense spending, capabilities, and support for Ukraine. But with a war in Europe, this is not enough. Any major combat operation in Europe would still be overly reliant on U.S. capabilities. Next year’s 75th anniversary NATO summit in Washington provides an opportunity to fix this problem, put Europe on a new course, demonstrate U.S. leadership, and address burden-sharing concerns. At the previous Washington summit, 25 years ago, the Clinton administration put the hand brake on efforts to strengthen European defense. This time, the Biden administration should take the hand brake off and return to a policy akin to the Truman and Eisenhower period of full-throated support for efforts to strengthen European defense. It should do so through a Washington declaration of unbridled political and practical support for the development of a common European defense. If the United States can finish what it started in 1949 and realize a stronger, more capable European defense, then history might not repeat itself.

Introduction

Next year’s historic 75th anniversary NATO summit is in Washington, where the North Atlantic Treaty was signed in 1949. But the focus of this summit should be squarely on Europe. The reason is simple: there is a war in Europe, but the continent cannot defend itself without the United States. The situation is no longer sustainable. On the political front, the U.S. election in 2024 will likely pit current president Joseph Biden’s internationalism against former president Donald Trump’s isolationism. The latter resonates with a new generation of American political leaders who are less attached to Europe and struggle to understand why a wealthy continent needs U.S. tax dollars to defend itself. On the military front, the United States’ ability to defend Europe will be increasingly constrained by the need to deal with China. The United States is pivoting to Asia whether Europe steps up on defense or not.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Europe has raised defense spending and provided massive support to Ukraine through new financial and industrial initiatives. This fact should be front and center in the Washington summit narrative communicated to the U.S. public. But reducing European dependence on U.S. defense capabilities will require more than marginal increases in defense spending. Deeper structural issues plague European defense, such as a profound lack of cooperation, insufficient industrial capacity, and an inability to turn rising spending into combat-credible forces.

This problem is not just Europe’s to solve: U.S. policy can make or break European defense. At the previous Washington summit, 25 years ago, the United States put the hand brake on European defense integration. In the lead-up to the summit, then secretary of state Madeleine Albright warned that the emerging European security and defense identity should avoid the “Three Ds” of decoupling from, duplicating, and discriminating against NATO allies. Those concerns are no longer warranted. Instead of demanding caution, President Biden should release the hand brake by offering political and practical support through a new Washington declaration on European defense. Doing so would help make his case that U.S. leadership has revitalized the alliance while addressing the burden-sharing concerns of many Americans.

The State of European Defense

Any assessment of the state of European defense must begin by acknowledging the massive and unprecedented scale of Europe’s assistance to Ukraine. European nations have provided advanced equipment to protect Ukrainians, from air defenses to modern battle tanks and long-range missiles. The largest multinational military training program since World War II, based in the United Kingdom, has trained over 50,000 Ukrainian soldiers. The European Union has created several new instruments to support Ukraine, including a Ukraine Facility to provide €50 billion in reconstruction aid until 2027 and the Act in Support of Ammunition Production (ASAP) to produce one million artillery shells. Total European assistance reached twice the amount of U.S. aid earlier this year (€156 billion versus €70 billion), while 14 European allies now contribute more assistance to Ukraine than the United States, measured by percent of GDP. Altogether, this tells an impressive story.

However, a closer look at the state of Europe’s defense capabilities tells another story. The main problem is a lack of credible combat forces among European nations. Any major combat operation in Europe in the coming years would rely on U.S. forces to make up for European shortfalls in the land, maritime, and air forces required to deliver a range of missions—in particular, the high-end collective defense and warfighting missions that now drive NATO’s military and force planning. While European defense spending has risen in recent years, this spending has not produced more combat-credible forces. As a recent assessment of Europe’s land forces by the Institute for International and Strategic Studies puts it, “At present, apart from a select few allies, Europe’s land forces are not increasing in size.” For example, the number of combat battalions among Europe’s largest armies has increased by only 4 percent since 2014 (from 218 battalions to 227). Looking at other capabilities across the land domain tells a similar story: with a few minor exceptions, the number of in-service main battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, armored reconnaissance vehicles, and self-propelled artillery has remained static or has fallen between 2014 and 2023.[1] This pattern is repeated across the whole force, with the total number of active armed forces personnel either remaining static or decreasing slightly over the same period in practically every European nation.[2] More broadly, European nations are carrying significant gaps in naval forces, air enablers, air defense, and “battle-decisive ammunition” (artillery munitions and missiles).

Another culprit is spending. On the one hand, Russia’s aggression triggered a revolution in European defense spending, which rose by nearly a third since 2014 to $345 billion in 2022. Recent figures show that EU member states spent a record high of €240 billion on defense in 2022. However, in historical terms this still represents relatively low levels of investment. During the Cold War, European nations maintained high levels of defense spending, averaging over 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). When the Cold War ended, Europe cashed in a peace dividend, and average defense spending levels quickly fell to 1.6 percent of GDP in 1995 and 1.3 percent in 2021. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, many nations have raised spending. Frontrunners include Poland at 4 percent, the Baltic States at 3 percent, and Germany with its Zeitenwende fund of €100 billion. At the 2023 Vilnius summit, all allies committed to “a minimum of 2% of GDP annual defence expenditure.” However, only seven NATO allies currently meet this target. An additional problem is the scale of Europe’s military assistance to Ukraine: while impressive, it has also emptied European armies’ shelveswhich now need to backfill their stocks while continuing to support Ukraine “for as long as it takes.”

Another reason for Europe’s defense malaise is a lack of cooperation between allies. When it comes to cooperation, Europe has a defense dilemma: it is spending more on defense but cooperating less. Increasing defense budgets have led to less, not more, cooperation between European defense ministries. With heftier budgets, defense ministries see less need to spend time coordinating their efforts. Although the latest EU figures on defense investment did not report on levels of collaborative spending due to lack of data, previous reports suggest European ministries of defense rarely coordinate procurements, meaning European forces spend more for less and forego the potential for economies of scale through joint acquisition. This fragmented spending landscape has also left Europe’s defense industrial base in a woeful state. Despite having a similarly sized economy, European factories cannot keep up with U.S. ammunition producers. Meanwhile, Russia receives assistance from factories in North Korea and Iran, while its defense industry adapts to international sanctions. One result of this fragmentation is that Europeans operate different types of equipment. This lack of standardization means European forces may struggle to fight and deploy together, creating significant logistics, maintenance, and interoperability challenges. Additionally, lack of common European funding means Europeans struggle to field costly yet critical enabling equipment in sufficient quantity, such as air refueling tankers and strategic lift.

All this means that current uncoordinated increases in European defense spending are unlikely to dramatically reduce Europe’s reliance on the United States. Europe’s capabilities are less than the sum of its parts and remain far short of what Europe needs to defend itself. Although Russian president Vladimir Putin’s disastrous war in Ukraine has neutered Russian ground forces for now, Russia may be able to reconstitute quickly, as its defense industrial production, despite sanctions, is ramping up significantly. Indeed, Russia’s defense spending next year is set to increase drastically from 3.9 percent of GDP to 6 percent. Meanwhile, Russian air, naval, and strategic rocket forces remain highly capable, alongside Russia’s advanced cyber and space capabilities and the nuclear saber Putin is fond of rattling. This problem is exacerbated by the need for the United States to deter an increasingly capable and motivated Chinese Communist Party from using force against Taiwan and U.S. regional allies while also maintaining a presence in the Middle East to manage rising tensions.

The United States and European Defense: From Truman to Biden

Europe’s armed forces were in a parlous state after World War II. In the war’s aftermath, the United States fully backed and even insisted on European defense cooperation and integration. The formation of NATO in 1949 enshrined ongoing U.S. commitment to European security to avoid another ruinous war through NATO’s Article 5 collective defense guarantee. But the United States also strongly supported European integration. The aim of U.S. strategy was to encourage a common European community that would both prevent future wars and expedite Europe’s recovery. A key feature of the Marshall Plan, which provided economic assistance to war-torn Europe, was not simply U.S. financial assistance but also the removal of trade barriers within the continent. The United States was also an ardent supporter of the formation of a European Defense Community (EDC), which would have integrated Western European forces and enabled German rearmament within the context of a European army. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles even threatened an “agonizing reappraisal” of U.S. commitment to NATO if Western European states did not sign on. Despite U.S. support, however, the French parliament at the time rejected the EDC due to sovereignty concerns.

Ultimately, U.S. Cold War policy focused on organizing the defense of Europe through NATO—including rearming West Germany. The United States was rarely satisfied with European defense contributions to NATO, though European nations, with their growing economies, routinely spent over 3 percent of GDP on defense to help deter Soviet invasion. While European integration proceeded in many spheres, Europeans did not take steps toward defense integration until the 1990s. Notably, the United Kingdom and France signed the Saint-Malo declaration in December 1998 after crises in the Balkans revealed Europe’s inability to wield hard power in its own neighborhood. Instead of supporting European defense integration as the administrations under U.S. presidents Harry Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower did, the Clinton administration threw cold water on the idea. Just days after the Saint-Malo signing, Secretary Albright made her Three Ds comments at NATO headquarters. While the European Union persisted and a common European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) followed, the United States remained nervous it could undercut NATO. In 2000, then secretary of defense William Cohen at the final NATO defense ministerial meeting of his tenure delivered what the Washington Post described as an “unusually passionate speech” declaring that “there will be no EU caucus in NATO” and that NATO could become “a relic of the past” should the European Union move forward on a proposal to create a 60,000 strong European rapid reaction force.

The Three Ds policy was designed fundamentally to maintain NATO’s primacy—and therefore, the United States’ essential role—in European security. From this standpoint, the policy has been a tremendous success in preserving U.S. centrality in European security. But it also has been a clear failure from the perspective of enhancing burden sharing and reducing Europe’s military dependency on the United States.

The Biden administration has softened long-standing U.S. policy and is less wary than many of its predecessors regarding EU defense initiatives. But the language from the administration of a “stronger and more capable European defense” has led to few substantive changes in U.S. policy. Much time was spent negotiating an administrative arrangement with the European Defence Agency, but the arrangement is likely more about U.S. access to potential EU defense contracts than boosting EU defense. While the Biden administration has rightly praised significant EU efforts to train Ukrainians, provide security assistance, and ramp up production of 155-millimeter artillery shells for Ukraine, it has not exactly encouraged the European Union to do more, think bigger, or aim higher. Meanwhile, recent NATO summits and initiatives—the United States’ preferred forum for strengthening European defense—have barely mentioned European defense cooperation and capabilities. (One notable exception was the 2012 Chicago summit, which issued a dedicated Declaration on Defence Capabilities.)

In short, while on paper the Biden administration may be receptive to supporting EU and European defense efforts, in practice it has not offered any bold proposals to address the structural issues plaguing European defense—in effect maintaining the decades-long status quo in U.S. policy.

Why This Washington Summit Should Be Different

The sharpest divergence since the Three Ds consensus came under President Trump, whose policy bordered on aversion to the notion that U.S. and European security are linked (despite evidence to the contrary provided by two world wars and a cold war). The strident isolationism that has featured in U.S. foreign policy debates since the republic was founded will return to the fore around the Washington summit, which takes place just days before the 2024 Republican National Convention, which will likely nominate Trump as its presidential candidate. This is just one reason why the United States should take a different approach to European defense in Washington.

Another reason is the strategic environment. At no point during or after the Cold War did the United States and NATO have to deal with a large-scale war in Europe—let alone a China sufficiently powerful and motivated to challenge regional and global order. While the Middle East was regularly in turmoil during the Cold War, the axis of authoritarian powers that has emerged since Hamas’s 2023 attack on Israel is a new dimension. These overlapping challenges risk compounding the demands on U.S. policy and stretching its global force posture to a breaking point. Meanwhile, European defense has moved slowly in recent decades and needs to accelerate on all counts: to defend itself, to compensate for the U.S. pivot, and to hedge against political uncertainty.

Unfortunately, on current plans the Washington summit promises to be a technocratic affair that does little to alter the status quo. The previous two summits were dominated by the need to reshape NATO after Russia’s invasion and restore collective defense and deterrence. In Madrid, allies agreed to a new strategic concept that described Russia as “the most significant and direct threat” to NATO, while in Vilnius they agreed to new regional plans to protect allies against further Russian aggression. When asked what the Washington summit should focus on, NATO officials have been unanimous: implementation.[3] While it is undeniably important for NATO to confirm progress is being made in implementing its new plans, this message may not cut through the political noise to resonate with U.S. voters across the country in the way the Biden administration (and its European allies) may wish.

First and foremost, the Biden administration will want to give NATO a 75th anniversary to remember. The alliance has played a foundational role in transatlantic security since its inception and has taken center stage once again following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. U.S. leadership has been central to alliance unity and strength; President Biden will want to secure credit for following through on his promise to “repair our alliances and engage with the world once again.” Finnish and, hopefully, Swedish membership will also be highlighted to the same ends. To contribute to the party atmosphere, the summit will also hail a new secretary general and to pay tribute to the achievements of Jens Stoltenberg, who has provided steady guidance for NATO during a challenging period.

The administration will also be keen to show that NATO is raising its awareness on China and strengthening its partnerships in the Indo-Pacific—one of the rare issues that enjoys bipartisan consensus in U.S. politics. But some Europeans object to what they perceive as a distraction to the core mission of NATO, particularly given challenges generating sufficient credible capabilities to defend the Euro-Atlantic area.

The trickiest topic for the administration to handle may be Ukrainian NATO membership. President Biden and his team will not want a repeat of Vilnius, where frantic last-minute negotiations over Ukraine publicly laid bare divergences among allies. Yet while the Biden administration might not be interested in another Ukraine summit, several factors might turn it into a Ukraine summit anyway, not least the battlefield situation at the time of the summit. However, the administration is already sending a clear signal to its NATO allies not to press the issue of membership. Additionally, the Biden administration will be unable to make any big new commitments to Ukraine, as 2024 will be a presidential election year and the White House will not be able to get new funding through Congress. Europeans, no doubt, will want to make the summit a success and thus will likely show deference to the United States and the president. But as much as the administration will try to temper expectations that Washington will go further than Vilnius on Ukrainian membership, there inevitably will be considerable attention from the press and public on what the summit means for Ukraine. While Ukraine may not be a source of contention at the summit, it is unlikely to provide any clear deliverables.

A New Approach: Beyond the Three Ds

A NATO summit that looks like more of the same, does not provide bold new deliverables, and fails to address key concerns such as European burden sharing may simply serve as cannon fodder at the Republican convention just days after the summit. The time for the United States and its NATO allies to try something different and ambitious is now.

To address U.S. domestic debates and competing demands on U.S. strategy, the summit should send a clear message: now is the time for Europe to shoulder more responsibility, with the full support of the United States. If the Biden administration adopts a new focus on strengthening European defense, the policy would resonate at home and with allies, demonstrating U.S. leadership on burden sharing while boosting European security and autonomy.

To make this happen, the administration should offer unprecedented political and practical support for European defense in a Washington declaration on European defense. There is enough time before July to work out the policy details and negotiate the declaration with NATO allies. The broad contours are sketched here in three aspects: political, practical, and financial.

First, the Biden administration should make a strong political statement in support of a renewed European defense and security identity.

As much as the United States has demanded Europeans step up on defense, it has also opposed European efforts through the European Union and forming a European pillar of NATO, which might erode U.S. influence or U.S. arms sales to Europe. Biden should clarify that the United States firmly supports efforts to build an integrated European defense.

The administration also should recognize that progress is being made. Europe’s decisive response to Russia’s invasion is leading to a transformation. Bilateral cooperation has been the engine room for support to Ukraine, yielding significant sums of aid and military equipment, from tanks to air defense. At the multilateral level, the U.S.-led Ukraine Defense Contact Group, hosted regularly at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, has been the leading forum for coordinating Ukraine assistance, while important multilateral initiatives like the German-led Sky Shield Initiative and the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) are boosting European capabilities and deterrence. At the institutional level, key initiatives include NATO’s new Strategic Concept and regional plans as well as the EU Versailles Declaration and related instruments (e.g., the European Peace Facility, European Defence Fund, ASAP, and the Ukraine Facility). These efforts add up to a renaissance in European defense that should be recognized and applauded.

At the same time, the journey toward a strong, self-sufficient, combat-credible European defense is just beginning. The Biden administration should therefore highlight the shortfalls in European defense, particularly when it comes to high-end collective defense missions. The purpose of doing so is not to berate Europeans but to encourage them for what will be a generational effort.

To prove this point, such a statement should include language that moves beyond the cliché of a “stronger, more capable European defense,” which remains constrained by the Three Ds consensus, toward a more supportive formula. The Clinton administration’s fears that EU defense would undermine and usurp NATO have not played out. The reality is that all efforts that contribute to strengthening European defense are equally valid and should be encouraged. As the raft of recent bilateral, multilateral, and institutional European initiatives shows, each forum has unique strengths: Bilateral cooperation is simple and direct. Multilateral forums can take advantage of small-group dynamics between like-minded nations. EU initiatives harness unique EU financial and regulatory levers, while NATO exercises and planning take advantage of established command structures and standards. The most concerning risk is not duplicating bureaucracy or forces but maintaining Europe in a state of vulnerability, at the time of a U.S. pivot to the Indo-Pacific. As Kelly Grieco and Marie Jourdain observe, the Three Ds have led to a fourth D: “European dependence on the United States.” As Grieco and Jourdain put it: “Today, the true danger for NATO is not the emergence of European defense capacity, but the lack of it.”

The time is therefore right for the United States to reset the dial between control and cost sharing in its NATO policy by moving beyond the Three Ds consensus—which was designed to control and constrain European defense—toward a new policy that emphasizes cost sharing and collective responsibility sharing. A good starting point for this policy is Grieco and Jourdain’s “Three Cs” of cooperation, capabilities, and consolidation. This policy would focus on the need for Europe to address—with the political and practical support of the United States—three key structural issues at the heart of the European defense problem.

First is the need to reverse the decades-long trend of declining defense cooperation in Europe. European nations cannot afford to go their own way on defense. Cooperation and integration, not fragmentation, are the answer. Second is the need for Europe to boost its own defense capabilities and capacity—not simply by increasing spending but also by investing in the right areas, accelerating innovation, and boosting defense productivity. A new capability focus on peacetime preparedness and resilience in Europe would also help. Third is consolidation in the face of increasing fragmentation of national defense priorities and industrial bases—particularly in central and eastern Europe, where defense industrial disintegration appears to be accelerating, not declining. The latter is an example of an area where a shift in U.S. policy might make a big difference given U.S. leverage over allies in that region.

Second, the Biden administration should propose several bold practical initiatives to strengthen European defense.

These initiatives should take advantage of every forum available, spanning NATO, the European Union, and the minilateral frameworks and bilateral agreements that make up the landscape of European defense.

One precedent regarding NATO-EU cooperation is the Berlin Plus agreements, agreed in 1999 at the previous Washington summit and adopted in 2002. The main element of the agreements is the availability of NATO assets and planning capabilities for EU-led crisis management operations. But their implementation has since been hindered by what remains the main stumbling block for EU-NATO cooperation: the dispute between Turkey and Cyprus. This seemingly intractable issue puts a ceiling to what NATO and the European Union can do together, but there are still initiatives that could be carried out in a coordinated, concerted manner without being fully integrated or committal for all members. NATO currently cannot share classified information with its direct EU counterparts, making cooperation on some issues impossible and dependent on informal working-level cooperation between EU and NATO staff.

Among ideas that could be tested in the coming months would be the joint definition of critical European capability targets, accompanied by a commitment by Europeans to develop the lion’s share. Such action would not require merging EU and NATO capability planning processes, as both organizations are attached to their independence. But it would be a recognition that Europeans lack some capabilities that are critical for their own defense and must be developed for the benefit of both the European Union and NATO, according to the sacrosanct principle of the “single set of forces” that implies that capabilities developed by common members of NATO and the European Union benefit both organizations. One transformative idea here would be for the United States to share more information with allies, at an appropriate level of detail and classification, about possible contingencies in the Indo-Pacific. This sharing would enable European planners to better understand the gaps that a U.S. pivot—which will happen either gradually or suddenly—would leave behind for them to fill. It should also include the extent to which European nations might contribute assets to a conflict scenario in the Indo-Pacific.

Beyond the institutional context, the United States could also call for and support more ambitious multilateral cooperation. Two good examples of existing initiatives are the German-led Sky Shield Initiative to boost European air defense, through which 10 allies have announced steps toward joint acquisition of systems, and the UK-led JEF, whose 10 members recently agreed to a new 10-year vision for northern European security. The Framework Nations Concept—which emerged from the 2014 NATO Wales summit but has since outgrown NATO—might be the most promising format to encourage European defense cooperation because it takes advantage of existing relationships and small-group dynamics between regional allies.

The United States could encourage better use of existing frameworks—such as the Italian-led framework nations Group of Six or the Central European Defence Cooperation (CEDC) group—or new frameworks based on regional approaches (e.g., the Black Sea, western Balkans, Mediterranean) or thematic issues (e.g., cyber, special operations, air and missile defense). Another pioneering multilateral model is the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats (Hybrid COE) based in Helsinki. Unlike other centers of excellence, the Hybrid COE is open to members from across NATO, the European Union, and beyond. The recent addition of North Macedonia means the center now has 35 members from across the Euro-Atlantic region, including the United States, which could call attention to the center’s important work and advocate replicating this pan-European model in other areas.

At the bilateral level, the United States could recognize recent efforts to bolster bilateral cooperation, such as the bilateral action plans recently signed between Rome, Berlin, and Paris; the 2023 Spain-France industry summit; and significant agreements between the United Kingdom and Poland to coproduce air defense systems. On the latter, the United States should double down on its new policy to expand coproduction arrangements with European allies to help fulfill existing and new orders for U.S. military equipment. Doing so would provide short-term military and political benefits in boosting European munitions and weapons stockpiles and U.S. jobs plus long-term gains in Europe’s indigenous industrial capacity and reduced European reliance on the United States.

Finally, the United States should emphasize the clear and important role for the United Kingdom in European defense. Although outside of the European Union, the United Kingdom remains Europe’s largest defense spender and is highly integrated into Europe’s defense industrial base, alongside other non-EU countries like Norway. Historically, the United Kingdom always provided an important transatlantic bridge between Washington and Brussels before Brexit. The improvement of relations between the United Kingdom and European Union under UK prime minister Rishi Sunak may set the table for closer defense engagement, while leaders of the opposition Labour Party have said that EU relations will be their “number one priority” if they win next year’s general election.

Third, the European Union should be challenged to come up with a major new defense funding initiative—an EU Zeitenwende fund.

To complement the practical initiatives on defense cooperation discussed, the Biden administration should challenge the European Union to use the same funding model it used during the Covid-19 pandemic and 2021–22 energy crisis. This new fund would emulate the €100 billion fund established by Germany following German chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Zeitenwende speech and would seek to boost European defense production to both support Ukraine and bolster European readiness.

The fund would emulate EU ammunition procurement efforts but would provide funding to both scale ammunition procurement and support other pivotal areas of need. It could also help fill gaps in European capabilities that the United States currently provides. As Estonia’s prime minister Kaja Kallas pointed out, “A capable technological and industrial base remains a prerequisite” for a “combat-effective Europe.” She also highlighted that if the European Union can find over €800 billion for pandemic recovery and €750 billion to mitigate the energy crisis, it should be able to fund more of its own defense. A call for this by President Biden would be a powerful boost to the message that if the European Union can borrow funds for a pandemic, it can borrow for war. While other funding platforms have been suggested to include non-EU members—such as a “NATO bank” or a “JEF bank” —the European Union has the experience and existing mechanisms to make the best version of such a lending scheme.

Furthermore, a big EU funding initiative would provide a major deliverable and theme for the summit. EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen should be invited to the summit and given a prominent role to highlight the European Union’s vital role in European defense.

Making History in Washington

Seventy-five years ago, the United States cemented a historic policy shift when it committed to the collective defense of Europe in the Washington Treaty. Under Truman and Eisenhower this was combined with practical and political support for Europe’s economic and defense capacity. After the end of the Cold War, the United States—nervous about Europe’s direction and its capacity to act and about the United States losing its place in European affairs—applied the hand brake to European defense initiatives. This policy was most obvious 25 years ago at the previous Washington summit under the Clinton administration’s Three Ds policy.

They say history rhymes. Next year’s Washington summit offers an opportunity for U.S. policy to shift again, through a declaration of unbridled political and practical support for European defense. Of course, this gambit might not work. One powerful explanation why is Robert Kagan’s “paradise and power” argument that the United States has created a “monster”: a postmodern Europe with an inherent aversion to hard power. But if the United States can finish what it started in 1949 and realize a stronger, more capable European defense, then history might not repeat itself.

Max Bergmann is the director of the Europe, Russia, and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C. Sean Monaghan is a visiting fellow in the CSIS Europe, Russia, and Eurasia Program. Mathieu Droin is a visiting fellow in the CSIS Europe, Russia, and Eurasia Program.

This report is made possible by general funding to CSIS and generous support from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Please consult the PDF for references.

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Max Bergmann
Director, Europe, Russia, and Eurasia Program and Stuart Center
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Sean Monaghan
Visiting Fellow, Europe, Russia and Eurasia Program
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Mathieu Droin
Visiting Fellow, Europe, Russia, and Eurasia Program