The recently released Defense Strategic Guidance delicately points to a subtle policy shift away from U.S. security and interests in Europe. But Western economies and capabilities are more inextricably linked than ever. Other than a commentary by The Economist on January 14 suggesting U.S. neglect of Europe, few if any writers or publications noticed the mixed messages in the strategic document regarding the future of the U.S. military's relationship with its European counterparts.
The mixed messages begin with a couple of sentences expressing America's wholehearted support of Europe: "Europe is our principal partner in seeking global and economic security, and will remain so for the foreseeable future," and "The United States has enduring interests in supporting peace and prosperity in Europe as well as bolstering the strength and vitality of NATO, which is critical to the security of Europe and beyond."
Shortly thereafter, however, are statements implying a U.S. withdrawal from the Continent: "Most European countries are now producers of security rather than consumers of it," and "This has created a strategic opportunity to rebalance the U.S. military investment in Europe." What does this mean? Is it a polite way to part company with close allies of over sixty years? Here is one more: "We will also work with NATO allies to develop a 'Smart Defense' approach to pool, share, and specialize capabilities as needed to meet 21st century challenges."