Will the United States Remain an Actor in European Security?
erschienen in der Publikation "Security Political Dialogue 1999 (2/01)" (ISBN: 3-901328-57-2) - Juni 2001
The force level indicating whether the US is "active" in European security can, of course, not be given in exact numbers. "Leadership", however, requires capability to direct large-scale military operations, here identified as the army corps level, with air support and substantial "bridgehead infrastructure," as well as naval forces that could form the nucleus of a US "fleet," primarily in the Mediterranean. The 50.000 level would certainly be the minimum for such capacity.
The key question is, of course, why the US is in Europe. The simplest answer is that the Americans are here in order to defend their interests and to protect their investments. Both interests and investments are economic as well as political and now include not only Western and Central Europe but also Eastern Europe, i.e., Russia and the Ukraine.
There is still, no doubt, an element of deterrence in the presence of the US in Europe - directed both against a strategically resurgent Russia (at the moment of writing a rather unlikely possibility over the short and medium term) and against a more general re-emergence of the old European great power game (and not only Germany). Presence is thus intended to prevent a return to the past of pre-1914 Europe as well as to renewed threats as emerged in both 1914, 1939 and with the Cold War in 1947-48.
US presence serves to guarantee both influence and a power base (and a military staging area) that can be used to keep the Europeans partners of the US, and burden-sharing partners at that, as well as give support to European integration in so far as it provides the US with such partners in carrying the burdens of hegemony - but not with serious rivals over economic and political power. Europe is a staging area not only for operations in Europe but also to give the US "reach" towards the Mediterranean, the Middle East and Central Asia. Thus, the US military presence and its active role in European security also give it the ability to shape Europe’s peripheries.
The very simplest way of putting things used to be the observation that the US had twice intervened (in the second case, risking a fighting landing in Normandy) and as one would not like to have to do this again - it would be best to just stay in. Today, the active and cooperative aspects of American Europeanises are more important than the purely garrison-like. The US is still in Europe in order to do things with the Europeans, not just to sit on them. Putting pieces together from the European security debate, it seems that the Europeans also, willingly or unwillingly, assume that European as well as global security will continue to depend on cooperation with the United States. The British Strategic Defense Review published a couple of years ago, put an enormous emphasis on cooperation (and interoperability) with US forces.