Ben Friedman and Justin Logan (a longtime friend of mine) who are both scholars at the Cato Institute, with which I have a long association, have developed the best recommendation yet on a foreign policy strategy for the future in light of the events in Ukraine. The end result of their plan will leave the United States safer, and more money in the pockets of the American taxpayer. They write:
Now the trick is to use Europe’s energy in responding to Russia to overcome coordination problems among states — to achieve what is called strategic autonomy: military capability independent of the U.S.
Russia’s aggression also helps solve that problem. The European response to the war has been impressively unified in sanctioning and condemning Russia, including Germany’s costly decision to stop the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. That decision risks Russian retaliation that could increase already‐high energy prices. This unity of political effort could be transformed into more military cohesion — if Washington permits it.
The U.S. has long been hostile to the idea of Europe’s independence from U.S. leadership, and sought to use NATO as a means to prevent that. The main reason to change this is that we spend a great deal defending Europe, and could use some of that windfall for better purposes — at home or in Asia — without harming European security. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine can help produce a more capable European partner, even if it’s one that does not follow American orders. That starts by gradually bringing troops home from Europe, not sending more there.
U.S. foreign policy has suffered too long from the misconception that the U.S. needs to solve every global problem. Ukraine is a European tragedy; Russia is threat mainly to Europe, and one U.S. allies there can meet themselves.
Read their entire piece here.
- Benjamin H. Friedman was a research fellow in defense and homeland security studies. He writes about U.S. defense politics, focusing on strategy, budgeting, and war. He has co‐edited two books and has published in International Security, Political Science Quarterly, Foreign Affairs, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Atlantic, the Philadelphia Inquirer, USA Today, the Hill, Politico, the Christian Science Monitor, and various other journals. Ben is a graduate of Dartmouth College, a PhD candidate in political science at the MIT, and an adjunct lecturer at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs.
- Justin Logan is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. He is an expert on U.S. grand strategy, international relations theory, and American foreign policy. His current research focuses on the shifting balance of power in Asia—specifically with regard to China—and the limited relevance of the Middle East to U.S. national security.
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