The tragic turn of events in Afghanistan should serve as a wake-up call for the European Union. When the United States unilaterally decided to end its presence in the country, Europe had no choice but to follow suit. And as Afghanistan fell rapidly to the Taliban, all the EU could do was stand by, helpless. The Continent’s leaders didn’t have the means to insert forces in Afghanistan even if they wanted to do so, exposing not just the failures of two decades of U.S. and NATO efforts but also the failure of the alliance’s post-9/11 approach to European defense.
The last few years have seen lots of grand talk in Brussels of a “geopolitical Commission” and “European strategic autonomy,” and it’s long past due for Europe to start walking the walk. Collectively, the EU spends as much on defense as Russia and China, and yet it lacks the basic military capabilities to sustain combat operations abroad without the help of the U.S.
The above excerpt was originally published in Politico.
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