Can Europe Defend Itself Without the United States?


Europe is facing a critical question: can it defend itself without the United States? This article delves into the complexities surrounding Europe’s military capabilities, its reliance on the United States, and the challenges it faces in developing its own defense systems.

The Current State of Affairs

1. A Race Against Time

Europe is in a race against time to arm itself, with assessments suggesting it may be at least a decade away from being able to defend itself without help.

2. The Resurgence of Donald Trump

Donald Trump’s return to the political arena has added to the pressure on European leaders, as his stance on NATO allies’ spending commitments raises concerns.

3. European Leaders’ Response

European leaders, aware of the need to build their own military capabilities, are facing challenges in procurement and supply chain management.

The Role of the United States

1. A Critical Dependency

Despite efforts to increase defense spending, European nations would still depend on the United States for certain capabilities, such as air and missile defense.

2. The Risk of Withdrawal

The worst-case scenario for Europe would be if the United States were to withdraw from NATO, leaving a significant gap in Europe’s defense capabilities.

The Path Forward

1. Increasing Defense Budgets

European countries are working towards reaching the 2% of GDP spending target set by NATO, but the effects will take time to materialize.

2. Interoperability Challenges

Efforts to make European weapons more interoperable are hindered by the wide variety of weapons systems used in Europe.

The Need for Cooperation

1. Overcoming Protectionism

Clashes between European countries over the purchase of foreign weapons systems are hindering joint acquisitions that could boost Europe’s military capacity.

2. Pooling Orders

Pooling orders between different Member States could help resolve interoperability issues and boost production.


Europe is facing a critical juncture in its defense capabilities, with the need to balance its reliance on the United States with its efforts to build its own military capabilities. Cooperation among European countries is essential to overcoming the challenges they face.