Or at least that is my impression from the short news article at Reuters: Germany’s Schaeuble calls on Berlin to help fund French nukes – report. It seems like EU-elites are preparing for possibility of a rift in US-EU relationships.
Until now US has shielded the NATO member states under its own nuclear umbrella of strategic as well as tactical nukes arsenal. As members of NATO, Europeans are reliant on Article 5 of its charter for nuclear deterrence and mutual-assured destruction (MAD) principle, to protect against third countries conventional or nuclear attack.
France has its own nuclear forces with its submarines carrying nuclear ballistic missiles and its aviation capable of deploying nuclear weapons. British have their nuclear ballistic missiles-carrying submarines but they rely on US-supplies Trident sea-launched ballistic missiles. Some European countries, first of all Germany, have a US nuclear tactical bombs stockpiles on US-operated bases.
But the European dependence on American nukes is undeniable. That is why, in the event US policies will start do differ from European ones, or if EU or US will decide to abandon the NATO, Europeans will have no choice but to develop their own nuclear triad (air-, land- and sea-based nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles). And the only basis for such development are French nuclear deterrence forces. Developing separate nuclear deterrence capabilities without the French will take too much time and money, and will have much higher risks of failure.
I personally consider such development a positive one. If Europe will have its own nuclear triad, it will be able to exercise its own, independent from the US, policies. Europe lost this ability after the start of WWII, and since then it is reliant on US for protection. Because of it, Europe has lost its independence and must maintain large US military bases and procure expensive US military hardware to stay under American nuclear umbrella. Above all, it must follow US foreign policies. This is the price it has no other option but to pay.
As dubious as the current European foreign policy aspirations may seem, in the long run it will be better this way, I believe. Firstly because the detachment from the US will hasten the transition to a new, multi-polar world. And secondly because, using the famous words from the “Spiderman” franchise: with great power comes great responsibility. And the sense of responsibility leads to a more mature policy, hopefully. European politicians have threatened Russia with war, while hiding behind the might of the US military. If they will stand by their own against Russia or some other country, it should dampen their bellicose spirits and lead to a more rational and realistic approach.
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