So much for first impressions.
Ever since Joe Biden won the U.S. presidency, the rhetoric from Europe’s leaders has been filled with anticipation of a new transatlantic dawn. With you know who safely out of the White House, the Continent’s leading lights signaled Europe would again link arms with America, bound by common ideals and a firm resolve to save the world from its bad angels.
“The United States is back. And Europe stands ready,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen declared on the occasion of Biden’s inauguration.
But given the opportunity in recent weeks to show the Biden administration it was serious about geostrategic collaboration, Europe opted instead to show Washington the finger.
That has revealed a strategic dissonance in which Europe is continuing to pursue its own course on key issues, including relations with both China and Russia, in the face of American reservations.
The question is whether Europe’s decision to effectively de-couple from U.S. foreign policy agenda before Biden’s administration has really even begun is born out of a desire to achieve the dream of “strategic autonomy,” a concern that Donald Trump could return in four years, or some combination thereof.
But some in Washington are worried that Europe is walking into a trap.