Three Questions with Michèle Flournoy
Editor’s Note: The German Marshall Fund of the United States held a discussion with Co-Founder and CEO of the Center for a New American Security Michèle Flournoy and authors of the organization’s recent report “Forgotten Waters: Minding the GIUK Gap” on May 5 in Brussels. GMF Transatlantic Fellow Bruno Lete asked Flournoy to share her thoughts on the future of transatlantic security after the event.
Q: What do you see as the major challenges for U.S. foreign policy in the year ahead?
Michèle Flournoy: I think in the year ahead the greatest challenge is for the new administration to articulate a strategy that reassures our allies and friends and clearly communicates with our competitors and potential adversaries: how the United States will engage, how it will continue to lead in the world. There are all kinds of individual crises that may pop up whether it is North Korea, whether it is mystery from the part of Russia, whether it is further interference in democratic elections across Europe. But the underlying question is what role the United States will play — because Trump raised a lot of fundamental questions about the bipolarism in foreign policy consensus during the campaign. Now people are eager to hear what he will actually do as a president.
Q. In terms of U.S. engagement, one year after the NATO Warsaw Summit, is NATO now obsolete or needed more than ever before?
Michèle Flournoy: It is needed more than ever before. But I think even this administration is coming around to that view. There is strategic value for the United States in our Alliance, particularly when we are dealing with whether it is the challenges to the East to the resurgent Russia, or challenges to the South, in terms of how we are going to coordinate our response to Syria, to refugees, to flow of foreign fighters, and the threats of terrorism. These are all things where we are stronger and more effective when we work as an Alliance than when we do not.
Q: The U.S. administration has also expressed strong views on Europe stepping up its contribution to Western military efforts. What is your advice to make better burden-sharing in transatlantic defense cooperation?
Michèle Flournoy: First of all, I do think an emphasis on burden-sharing first of its odd perennials and it is important. But I think we have to be careful to look across a broader range of matrix. Yes getting to the 2 percent of GDP spending on defense within the target timeframe is an important goal and we should continue to press in that direction. But indeed there are other ways in which the Allies contribute: whether it is keeping an intelligence posture in North Atlantic to help us understand what the Russians are doing, sending troops and trainers to Afghanistan, or helping train troops in Iraq. Whatever the contribution may be all of this must be accounted for and appreciated.
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