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Can the West still rely on America?

Can the West still rely on America?

Julianne Smith, Permanent Representative of the United States to NATO.Source: Image Alliance / Abaka

There are generally two ways to get an interview as a journalist. First: Asking if someone has the time and interest. But sometimes interviews are offered without asking. Then it makes you sit up and take notice: Does anyone want to message you?

As in this case. The offer comes from the US delegation to NATO. An interview with Ambassador Julian Smith? You're welcome – after all, there are a lot of questions. For example, can the West still rely on the United States?

He has been the US Ambassador to NATO in Brussels since November 2021. Earlier, he served among other things as a Defense Policy Advisor to then US Vice President Joe Biden. Smith still knows Germany from his student days – when he studied for a year at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich.

“As long as it takes” – is the sentence still valid?

After all, US President Joe Biden has always had this message for more than two years. His country would support Ukraine as long as needed – “however long it takes”. Due to the impasse in the US Congress, it seems somewhat empty these days.

Chancellor Scholes is campaigning in the US for more aid to Ukraine. President Biden has been seeking funding through Congress for months, but was defeated by Republicans.

02/10/2024 | 02:06 minutes

Another meeting of the “Rammstein Group” has been called for this Wednesday, that is, about 50 countries that, under the leadership of the United States, coordinate the supply of weapons to Ukraine. “We will emphasize these countries. And do – “Although we still need to clarify the details of our package,” says Smith.

No one in this group took their feet off the bike, and no one suggested an alternative. I don't think there is any other option but to continue supporting Ukraine.

Julianne Smith, US Ambassador to NATO

A NATO ambassador wants to spread hope

But are these really the “details” that the US still needs to clarify regarding its military aid? German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called US military aid “indispensable” after a visit by US President Biden.

Experts such as Claudia Major of the Science and Politics Foundation (SWP) in Berlin agree with him: “If US military supplies do not continue, it will have dangerous consequences for Ukraine.” More important, says Major ZDFheute, is the signal it sends to all allies: “America cannot be trusted in the long run.”

President Scholz is asking the US Congress for help in Ukraine. Political consultant Vers says it is an irony of history for a Social Democratic party to establish Germany as a leading power.

02/09/2024 | 01:34 min

What if Trump returns?

There's still an election in November, and at least current polls suggest that NATO suspect Donald Trump will return to the White House. So is the US election a referendum on NATO's future?

US Ambassador Smith says no. Approval of NATO is high among all American political camps – especially among the American public.

I am sure that whoever is in the White House, next year or 25 years from now, the American people will ensure that he or she remains committed to NATO.

Julianne Smith, US Ambassador to NATO

The alliance has proven its worth over and over again for 75 years, says Smith. What it didn't say: Whether this evidence also reached Donald Trump's camp and convinced it.

The White House strongly condemned Trump's statements about offending NATO partners. According to Trump, NATO partners who do not pay their dues will not receive protection from Russia.

02/11/2024 | 00:26 minutes

Smith: Europeans, finally do more!

Julianne Smith's last message in the ZDF interview: A plea to Europe. “Regardless of our election, all US presidents over the years have had the same message: Europeans need to invest more in their own security,” says Smith.

More on Topic: Today's issue from 9:45 PM tonight.

The only problem is that Europe has not responded to such demands for a long time. The SWP's Claudia Major sees it that way.

Most Europeans have long relied on US security and have invested very little in their own security – and they can only make up for this shortfall through enormous investments over the long term.

Claudia Major, Foundation for Science and Politics

It will probably take its toll when Donald Trump returns to the White House.

Florian Neuhann is a reporter at the ZDF studios in Brussels.