Essays on American politics and foreign policy

By Donald E. Nuechterlein

Donald Nuechterlein is a political scientist and writer who resides near Charlottesville, Virginia. He is the author of numerous books on American politics and foreign policy, including

  • Defiant Superpower: The New American Hegemony, 2005
  • America Recommitted: A Superpower Assesses its Role in a Turbulent World, 2000
  • A Cold War Odyssey, 1997


Donald Nuechterlein

Commentary: The European Union: Can it Survive?

Remarks made at the Charlottesville Committee on Foreign Relations, April l8, 2013, at the Omni Hotel

APRIL 2013

Crucial questions regarding European countries' support for European Union

  1. How strongly does France support the E.U., as the way to engage Germany?
  2. How deeply is Poland's national interest invested in the E.U.'s success?
  3. Can Britain afford to withdraw from the E.U. and risk a potential power vacuum?
  4. How important is European integration to Germany's emerging interests?

For U.S. national interests, Europe's importance has declined

Even though continued viability of the European Union may be important to the U.S., both politically and economically, success of a common European currency (euro), is at best a major, not vital, U.S. interest. NATO, however, will remain a vital U.S. interest and its continued viability requires major American participation, and nominal leadership. Nevertheless, Europe lags seriously in its support of defense budgets which are required if Europe expects to play a larger role in North Africa and the Middle East. As a result, U.S. reliance on Europe's participation in providing security in those areas has declined.

U.S. posture toward Europe should assume a lower profile

Washington should emphasize to Europe's governments that they alone should resolve the euro problem and preserve the European Union. The U.S. should be ready to confer, but should refrain from giving unsolicited advice.

U.S. leaders should continue to support NATO solidarity while encouraging Europe's governments to take more responsibility for continental defense. But the U.S. should encourage NATO members to be more involved in providing assistance to African and the Middle Eastern countries where European interests have historically been large.

U.S. policy should adopt a lower profile in Europe while its governments slowly work out their political and economic difficulties. A more united and confident Europe will eventually emerge and become a stronger U.S. ally in dealing with international challenges, not least international terrorist activity.

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