The United States and the European Security and Defense Policy

Old Fears and New Approaches

by F. Stephen Larrabee

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The U.S. attitude toward the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP) continues to be marked by ambivalence. The U.S. fears that the ESDP is seeking to become NATO’s competitor or that the EU may want make ESDP a counterweight to NATO. It also has concerns about the EU’s operational planning and the capabilities gap between it and its European allies, and worries that the ESDP may form a “European caucus” within NATO or seek to provide its own security guarantees to its members. Although some Europeans have called for a division of labor in which Europe concentrates on peacekeeping and the U.S. on high-intensity operations, the author believes that such a division is unwise. Rather, the United States should takes steps to strengthen transatlantic relations. It should accept that Europe needs some operational planning capacity and should harmonize its defense transformation with Europe’s. NATO and the EU need to develop mechanisms to allow rapid response in time of crisis. Finally, the U.S. must recognize that the EU is becoming an increasingly political security actor.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Yearbook 2006, European Security and Defence Policy: A European Challenge, pp. 171-185. Edited by Bo Huldt, Mika Kerttunen, Jan Mörtberg, Ylva Ericsson. Copyright © 2006 Swedish National Defence College and the authors.

Originally published in: Strategic Yearbook 2006, European Security and Defence Policy, pp. 171-185.

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