Do European Union leaders want Trump reelected? Their Ukraine freeloading suggests so

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Congress is about to provide Ukraine with another $12.3 billion in aid. That will take the total Ukraine-related U.S. aid to $67 billion since February. This massive U.S. commitment reflects a bipartisan priority that Russia not succeed in its effort to destroy a sovereign European democracy. China is watching what is happening in Ukraine very closely, assessing how the West might respond to its own invasion of Taiwan. The outcome of the war in Ukraine, then, is a key test of the post-1945 U.S.-led democratic international order.

Yet, considering the support that European governments are providing to Ukraine, it appears that many EU leaders have decided they want Donald Trump to get reelected come November 2024.

Recall Trump’s most successful foreign policy narrative: “America is getting a bad deal from its allies.”

Trump’s unpredictability and unyielding transaction-philosophy in foreign policy degraded U.S. alliances. But European defense spending, military deployment decisions, and capability (take just one example from Monday) testify that Trump was correct about the freeloading. Indeed, Trump simply delivered on Obama Defense Secretary Bob Gates’s 2011 prophecy that “if current trends in the decline of European defense capabilities are not halted and reversed, future U.S. political leaders … may not consider the return on America’s investment in NATO worth the cost.”

European leaders are relieved that Trump has left office but claim to fear his return. As President Joe Biden recently recalled, he told a meeting with his European counterparts that “America was back.” French President Emmanuel Macron responded, “For how long?”

Macron must have been joking. Judging by what Macron and other European powers are doing for Ukraine, it seems obvious that they actually want Trump back in office. Consider the Kiel Institute’s reporting on what aid levels different nations have provided to Ukraine since February. The data suggest that the European Union has, via its central budget, allocated a little under $15 billion to Ukraine (a significant portion of which is made up of loans). For perspective, the EU’s total GDP is approximately 90% that of the United States, so roughly comparable. Then there’s what the top five EU economies with nominal GDPs over $1 trillion have given Ukraine. Kiel estimates their allotments as follows.

  • Germany: $2.9 billion
  • France: $1.1 billion
  • Italy: $470 million
  • Spain: $330 million
  • Netherlands: $475 million

These nations are supposed to be the artery of the EU’s economic and political power, the driving force of the EU “project” to establish an eventual federal superstate. But where the U.S. will soon have committed $67 billion to Ukraine, the EU likely hasn’t even provided half of that amount.

Instead, it is non-EU member Britain ($6.25 billion-plus) and far smaller EU economies, such as the Baltic states, Poland, and Norway, that now lead the continent’s support for Ukraine. Most of these nations are geographically close to Russia and are thus most at risk from Moscow (Hungary is also on the eastern flank, but Prime Minister Viktor Orban prefers being Putin’s EU pet). Nevertheless, the discrepancy between what the big European powers and the small European powers are doing for Ukraine evinces an important reality. It underlines both the fiction of Macron’s vaunted “strategic autonomy” project to establish a common EU foreign policy independent of the U.S. and of the big EU’s sustaining disinterest in burden sharing. Too many in the U.S. media ignore this stark reality (consider how former German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s disastrous leadership was long celebrated and, to some degree, still is).

This reality only adds more ammunition to Trump’s legitimate but ultimately misguided argument that the U.S. does not benefit from NATO. And while Macron will soon be feted over in a December state visit to the U.S., Europe’s perpetual refusal to take more security responsibility forces the U.S. into a terrible choice: whether to risk European stability by withdrawing U.S. forces from Europe or, via failing to bolster forces in the Pacific, risk heavy defeat against China in a likely coming war.

Source: Washingtonexaminer