Nathalie Loiseau for La Croix: “Strengthening our military support for Ukraine is not only a duty of solidarity”

2024-01-24 | Political initiatives, Military assistance

For Nathalie Loiseau, Europe is facing an unprecedented challenge: even though it has relied with confidence on the international order resulting from 1945, it has never been so contested by those who prefer right of the strongest to the force of law.

Who will rule the world? A strange question indeed for the Europeans that we are. In the last century, two world wars and the end of colonization took away from Europe the power but also the desire to dominate the rest of the planet. Quite rightly. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the breakup of the Soviet Union made her believe in the end of History and that she had won the fight for democracy.

She was wrong to believe it, History is not over and war has returned to our continent. Beyond Russian aggression in Ukraine, our democracies are constantly attacked by authoritarian regimes who seek to weaken us and regain the greatness of their lost empires. From Russia to China via Turkey, the imperialist dream, the hegemonic temptation, revenge on a History which imposed unequal treaties, the end of the Ottoman Empire and the fall of the USSR constitute powerful engines .

European defense in the making

Here then is Europe faced with an unprecedented challenge: even though it has turned its back on the temptation to dominate the world and has relied with confidence on the international order resulting from 1945, this has never been so contested by those who prefer the right of the strongest to the force of law. Conceived as a peace project, European construction has long navigated in calm weather. It left defense issues to States and especially to the American ally through NATO. However, at a time when the world is becoming more threatening, American interventionism is becoming rarer and could weaken further after the presidential election next November. A real European defense is in the making, but has not yet taken its full measure, far from it.

It is in this in-between that we find ourselves, an in-between of all dangers, while Ukraine resists but pays a high price for the fight for its freedom. Strengthening our military support for Ukraine is not only a duty of solidarity. This is our most obvious security interest, as Vladimir Putin’s military adventurism constitutes a threat to the entire continent. It is also an imperative necessity, that of preserving our credibility: if we are not capable of helping Ukraine to push back Russia decisively, which partner will trust us? Which country will still dare to take the risk of democracy and the alliance with Europe if we abandon it in the face of threats and perils? To those who ask whether we really have the means to help Ukraine more, I answer that the cost for Europe of Ukraine’s defeat would be exorbitant.

A fragile European model

The European model has therefore never been so fragile. However, it has never been so attractive. Let us think of the countries that are knocking on our door: Ukraine of course, Moldova, Georgia, the countries of the Western Balkans are rushing to join us. Overwhelmed, the European Union? What other political space in the world attracts so many sovereign and independent countries without constraining them? If the United Kingdom turned its back on it, we can now see how much the British regret it.

Here then is Europe facing the challenge of its enlargement. However, in a world which is reconstituting itself into blocs and where our neighborhood is unstable, the choice before us is simple: either the enlargement of the European Union, or its encirclement by unfriendly powers and zones of instability. More than a challenge, it is an opportunity offered to us to be able to strengthen ourselves by expanding, provided we make the right decisions and preserve what makes the European model so powerful.

Master our destiny

We talk little about this European power and we measure it poorly. However, it is considerable. Let us think about it: what dominates the world today are less States than phenomena which ignore borders. So with the digital giants: some behave like states and would like to impose their rules on us rather than respecting ours. Europe, and Europe alone, has managed to regulate them without infringing on our freedoms. On an issue as major as artificial intelligence, the European Union is the first to set rules. Because we don’t want to see the world dominated by robots.

Those who dominate the world of today and tomorrow are also those who hold the energy sources that power our economies. From this point of view, the priority given by Europe to the energy transition and its choice to move away from its dependence on Russian hydrocarbons are two steps in the right direction. There are still others to accomplish, so as not to replace one external dependence with another. In the world as it is, our ambition is no longer to dominate the world, but to control our destiny and not let anyone dictate our preferences. Only increased European sovereignty will achieve this.

Article translated from French. Original article can be viewed here.