In a previous opinion piece (Ukraine in the Post-America Era), I outlined potential scenarios for Ukraine if Congress failed to provide additional appropriations. Despite the recent approval of an extra $61 billion, the situation is not as promising as it may seem. Ukraine and Europe must urgently prepare for a future without further US funding or support from a new administration that may turn its back on Europe. Even if the current administration continues in office, the likelihood of congressional approval of additional funding will likely be slim. This ushers in a pressing “post-American era” that demands immediate attention.

Europe must seize the next eight months to further decrease its dependency on the US. America will remain a significant force in the world but may no longer wish or afford to be Europe’s backstop. Europe has enjoyed nearly 80 years of American protection, but the time has come for Europe to transition to complete reliance on itself for regional security. A new neo-nazi/neo-bolshevik “Axis of Evil” has arisen, consisting of states sharing a solid aversion to democracy and human rights. By assuming more of America’s burden in its own defense, Europe will enhance America’s ability to meet this global challenge in more distant places.

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The unstated reality underlying the current NATO is that “Uncle Sam” will take the lead and pull “us” through. If a severe crisis affecting NATO should happen and the US can no longer provide the needed support and leadership, what then? Who will lead and deliver the assets needed to meet the challenge? The consequences of Europe’s inaction may be dire.

WORLD: What is Happening to Conscientious Objectors in Europe?
Other Topics of Interest

WORLD: What is Happening to Conscientious Objectors in Europe?

Conscientious objection to serving in armed forces has become an important issue in Ukraine as it battles against Russian invaders. So what is the current international practice in this sphere?

The last two years of delayed and insufficient military support for Ukraine and the last six months of territorial loss and wanton assaults on civilians and infrastructure are proof of NATO’s fragility. Even now, despite the destruction and slaughter on Europe’s border, some European states have failed to respond with even essential Christian charity to the daily tragedies.

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When NATO’s Secretary General goes hat-in-hand, appealing for “Patriot” systems to protect civilians in a neighboring European country but returns with excuses, can we be sure of a different response if the war arrives at NATO’s doorstep? Will NATO members contribute their military assets to satisfy their somewhat fanciful “such actions as it deems necessary” pledge?

If Europe is to take its security seriously, it should consider some badly needed revisions to the NATO charter, especially two of its most critical provisions. Unlike the current ambiguous Article 5, which relies heavily on the implicit assumption that the US will always be a backstop, a new amended charter must be proactive, binding, and definitive on all members who choose its protection.

Secondly, it must vest strategic and policy-making dispositive authority in a supermajority of less than 100 percent of its members.(Two-thirds is a widely accepted supermajority.) Membership may be suspended or terminated by such a supermajority. NATO’s recent experience with Sweden and Finland demonstrates the recklessness of allowing one member to frustrate a collective decision of thirty. The requirement for unanimity is a handicap that no serious organization would allow.

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Russia will not move against Europe so long as Ukraine remains standing.

Diplomats, lawyers, and politicians from 32 countries will need time to agree, produce drafts, and have a new or amended charter or treaty executed or enacted by their governments’ executive and legislative authorities. However, time is of the essence if Europe and Ukraine settle on eight months to pick up where the US left off.

It cannot be overstated that Europe’s security and economic well-being in the post-America era hinge on its unity and Ukraine’s pivotal role in providing Europe with the time it needs to transition and implement preparedness programs. Russia will not move against Europe so long as Ukraine remains standing. Without unity, Europe’s NATO members cannot effectively counter Russia, and Russia would achieve its imperial dream of Euro-Asiatic domination.

The most urgent requirement and highest priority is to meet Ukraine’s need for (a) surface-to-air missile defense systems to protect its population, infrastructure, and defense-industrial base, (b) military supplies to push the enemy back, and (c) funds for government and humanitarian expenses.

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Concurrently, the initiating group of European nations most interested in upgrading European security (Poland, the Baltic states, Germany, France, the UK, etc.) should begin, together with the US, Canada, and Ukraine, expediting production and investments in ordnance and equipment most urgently needed and in short supply.

With a population 3 times larger than Russia, a defense budget that is 4-5 times larger, an economy 10 times more productive, and a (relatively) light, current defense burden of 2 percent of GDP, Europe can easily catch up and outpace Russia in the one conventional military sector in which it is lagging by 30 percent – ground combat assets. Europe’s naval and air power is 3-5 times greater than Russia’s and can offset much of that surface imbalance.

The most significant asymmetry in Russia’s favor is in its arsenal of 6,000 nuclear warheads. But here, too, Europe can build up its nuclear arsenal while its current 500+ nuclear warheads remain a credible deterrent to the use of such weapons.

Europe is well positioned to provide fully for its security against any foreseeable foe, given enough time to reorganize and build up its defense industry. Russia currently enjoys superiority in conventional ground warfare armaments, but these are well within Europe’s financial and industrial ability to produce and to offset with its naval and air superiority.

Notwithstanding Europe’s significant disadvantage in the size of its nuclear force, that force is a substantial tactical deterrent, which, along with Europe’s vastly superior air force and advanced surface-to-air defense systems, can neutralize many of Russia’s missiles.

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Europe must seize the next eight months to further decrease its dependency on the US.

The “weakest” links in Europe’s current national security position are (a) uncertainty as to America’s ability or willingness to continue its current level of support; (b) scarcity of ground warfare ordnance, especially missiles and artillery projectiles; (c) potential erosion of European unity; (d) Russian hybrid penetration into Europe’s “soft” underbelly via Moldova and Serbia; (e) lack of sufficient ground-to-air defense systems; and, most importantly, (f) timely and adequate delivery of military supplies and funding for Ukraine. Four of the six can be partially or fully remedied in eight months.

The views expressed are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.

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