A wave of concern has gripped European defense ministers and armed forces as politicians and military leaders believe that NATO-skeptic Donald Trump could be elected the next US president and not be forced to leave Ukraine or be defeated. Despite the country's current conflict with Ukraine, this febrile mood has fueled growing warnings that Europe could be at war with Russia.
At the same time, tensions continued to rise in the Middle East. Israel's attack on Gaza continues; Hostilities escalate with Iran-aligned Hezbollah in Lebanon; And the US and UK bombed Houthi-held areas in Yemen to stop attacks on ships in the Red Sea.
What do politicians and generals say?
According to the British from 'The Guardian', the most glaring example is Admiral Rob Bauer, the head of NATO's military group, who stated that “it is not a given that we are at peace” and therefore “we are”. Prepare for conflict with Russia and terrorist groups if necessary.
British Defense Secretary Grant Shabbs used even stronger language, arguing that the Cold War peace dividend was over and that the United Kingdom and its allies were “moving from a post-war world to a pre-war world”. Idealism is replaced by “stubborn realism”. He argued that it was time for rearmament to protect Europe from “Putin's fury”.
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius suggested that while a Russian attack was unlikely for now, “our experts expect it to be possible in 5 to 8 years.” Europe, he added, is “dealing with a military threat situation that has not existed in 30 years.” Authorities in Sweden and Norway issued similar warnings last month.
Isn't this just scaremongering on the part of the military who want more money?
Planning for war, a remote contingency, is what the military does and there is always pressure from generals and defense ministries to spend more. But the war in Ukraine is destroying Western munitions arsenals. However, it appears that the US Congress will not vote on a nearly $60 billion military aid package for Ukraine due to pressure from Republicans.
Western weapons are entering Ukraine, though they have failed to make an impact on the Russian front lines – a gap Europe will have to scramble to fill if future US military aid is halted due to congressional gridlock. According to experts, without the United States, Russia can gradually change the situation.
At the same time, Trump appears poised to win the Republican nomination after primary victories in Iowa and New Hampshire. Memories of his previous presidency linger in Europe, particularly when he threatened at the 2018 NATO summit that the US could “go it alone” and leave if other countries did not increase their own military spending.
What does this mean for NATO?
Manfred Weber, leader of the conservative European People's Party in the European Parliament, has advocated for the EU to replace NATO in defending the continent, proposing a “European security pillar” that would include a nuclear umbrella provided by France. A nuclear weapon state in the European Union. “When I look at this year as a European politician, the first thing that comes to mind is Trump,” he highlighted.
Among some EU politicians, there is talk of the need to create an EU Security Commissioner, but the reality is that this maneuver is unlikely to change the strength of NATO, which, like the United States, has members with large armed forces, such as the United Kingdom and Turkey. .
Could there really be a wider war with Russia?
The head of the British army, General Sir Patrick Saunders, suggested that the United Kingdom's professional army was too small to last long in an all-out war with Russia and that a “volunteer force” was needed to win it. Although the British government dismissed this scenario as a “futile” hypothesis, other European countries, such as Latvia and Sweden, are renewing forms of military service.
However, no matter how aggressive Putin wants to be, it is far from clear that Russia will have the ability to attack NATO member states. According to Western intelligence estimates, 315,000 Russians have been killed or wounded in Ukraine and Moscow's forces have repeatedly failed to break through their tiny neighbor. The concern about US support may be real, but the threat is less significant.
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