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    Flags fly at half mast at NATO headquarters in Brussels, March 23, 2016.

    How Europe Can Keep the US 'Engaged in NATO'

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    In the follow-up to the critical remarks of President Donald Trump about NATO and its importance to the US, many European experts now expound on the significance of the alliance to Europe; here is what former French diplomat Jean-Marie Guéhenno has suggested the EU do to "keep the US engaged."

    After Donald Trump's criticism of NATO, his repeated questioning of US support for European integration, and demands for a greater financial commitment from European member states, NATO allies have braced for tough US demands on military spending.

    However former French diplomat and former UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations (2000-2008) Jean-Marie Guéhenno, who now serves as president and CEO of International Crisis Group, the independent conflict prevention organization, has recently suggested that "if Europe tries to protect the alliance only by ‘buying’ American commitment through increased defense spending, it will fail."

    He put forward his suggestions on how to "keep the US engaged" in the alliance.

    "If Europe’s only response is to “buy” American commitment through increased defense spending — as NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has indicated alliance members should do — it will fail. NATO cannot sustain itself as a political alliance if it is guided by monetary transactions. Its European members must show unity of purpose and vision: The time has come to create a European pillar of NATO," the former diplomat wrote in his article for the European edition of the US-based Politico magazine.

    He further elaborated that if Europe wants the US to "take it seriously" and not "see its European allies simply as adjuncts to an “America First” strategy," there should be a European "caucus" within NATO.

    Germany and France, "whose military capacities are increasingly compatible and complementary," he said, should "take the lead once elections in both countries have taken place."

    The European pillar should "include the six founding members of the EU, as well as more recent members, which could agree on two founding principles: that the emergence of a European pillar is made necessary by the changed strategic landscape; and that a European pillar should be conceived as a means to strengthen NATO, not as an alternative to it."

    "That core group should in time be opened to other members of the EU and should establish close consultation mechanisms with EU non-NATO members, such as Sweden, and with NATO non–EU members, such as Norway and Turkey," Guéhenno further suggested.

    A European pillar within NATO, he noted, could bring "countries with varying degrees of EU adherence into the fold."

    He cited as an example the United Kingdom, one of the Continent’s most important military powers, which is about to leave the EU, but which "could find its strategic interests best served by a close relationship with the new group."

    "In an era of rising nationalism, creating a European pillar of NATO may sound ambitious. But opinion polls show that Europeans, while critical of many aspects of the EU, consider defense to be an area that warrants more, rather than less, cooperation," the former diplomat noted.

    "The EU will not get out of its present malaise by renouncing its ambitions. On the contrary, it needs to be more ambitious if it wants to respond to the security concerns of its citizens. The exceptional circumstances confronting Europe require an exceptional response," he finally stated.

    In a separate comment on the issue, German national security expert, Professor Horst Teltschik, who served as national security advisor to Chancellor Helmut Kohl, has recently explained why in fact "Europe needs NATO."

    "Germany is the reason why we need NATO. We are located in the center of Europe. We are the largest country and the leading economic power [on the continent]," he explained to Sputnik Deutschland.

    "If you take a look at history, you will understand that other nations have not forgotten it. It is easier for our neighbors, including Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Denmark and Poland, to live with us if we are part of a single union. NATO should not always be viewed as an instrument targeted against someone. It can be viewed as an alliance which has brought us together," he elaborated.

    He also called on the Europeans "to understand what we want right now. We need our own agenda. There is no need to keep an eye on what Washington says. This refers to Europe's relations with Russia among other things," he noted.

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    NATO membership, NATO, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Horst Teltschik, Germany, Europe, United States, France
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