Europe still needs U.S. military help, German defense minister says

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Nov. 18 (UPI) — Germany’s defense minister, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, reinforced her position this week that Europe still depends on United States security guarantees.

The United States will remain “the most important ally in security and defense policy,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said in a speech in Hamburg on Tuesday. “Without the nuclear and conventional capabilities of the U.S., Germany and Europe cannot protect themselves. These are the sobering facts.”

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Kramp-Karrenbauer, speaking at the Helmut Schmidt University, reiterated the view that Europe needs U.S. help “for the foreseeable future.”

This followed French President Emmanuel Macron “profoundly” disagreeing in an interview on Monday, suggesting that European nations must increase their own defense abilities to earn U.S. respect.

Kramp-Karrenbauer noted in the speech that Germany and France, like many NATO countries, have recently increased their military budgets.

“We want Europe to be a strong partner for the United States on an equal footing and not a protegé in need of help,” she noted.

Macron has been an advocate of strategic autonomy, arguing that the European Union should strengthen itself as it engages in economic and military matters, and noting that the United States has recently concentrated on Asia and not Europe.

Kram-Karrenbauer wrote a Nov. 2 editorial published by Politico, making the case that “illusions of European strategic autonomy must come to an end.”

“Europeans will not be able to replace America’s crucial role as a security provider,” she wrote. “For the U.S., this means that it needs to keep Europe under its nuclear umbrella for the foreseeable future.”

“Germany, for its part, must urgently make the decision to stay inside NATO’s nuclear sharing program and assign the required budgetary and military assets quickly in order to remain a reliable nuclear partner,” wrote Kram-Karrenbauer.

Her comments drew criticism from Macron, who said in an interview on Monday that respect from the United States will come only if European countries build up their military and economic situations.

“Is the change in the American administration [a reference to the 2020 presidential election] going to see Europeans letting up? I profoundly disagree, for instance, with the opinion piece signed by the German Minister of Defense,” Macron said. “The United States will only respect us as allies if we are earnest, and if we are sovereign with respect to our defense.”

Macron added that “the changeover of administration in America is an opportunity to pursue, in a totally peaceful and calm manner, what allies need to understand among themselves, which is that we need to continue to build our independence for ourselves, as the United States does for itself and as China does for itself.”

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