European 'dopers...US military engagement with Europe

I was watching some videos earlier on several European countries that are talking about deepening ties with the US with respect to military engagements or new basing. This was not exactly universally supported, as there were several protests and even fights in parliament (for Slovakia). This has always been a bit of an issue, with a lot of European citizens very critical of US military involvement in their countries, rightfully feeling that this brings them off the fence wrt Russia and makes them a target for conflict between the US and Russia (or anyone else, like, say, China).

I was wondering what European 'dopers thoughts were on this. The current tensions in Europe over the Russian potential invasion/war with Ukraine, it has obviously ramped up such feelings. And it seems a lot of European GOVERNMENTS are lining up to allow (or entice I suppose) an expansion of US military presence in Europe. But I get the feeling that Europeans themselves would prefer the US to do what it’s been doing, which is to further withdraw from Europe wrt our military presence. So, what do you European 'dopers think?

It’s different everywhere, and depends on how geographically close the country is to Russia, how much of its population is ethnically Russian, its general political leanings, the party currently in power, and other economic and social considerations.

The Baltic nations, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania border Russia and are former SSR’s. (Lithuania borders Russia at Kaliningrad, but also borders Belarus.) They have Russian speaking minorities and sincere concerns about Russian infringement as a pretext of protecting those minorities. I believe that politically they swing between centre-left and centre-right, although socially they’re more Scandinavian liberal. But despite the politics and social attitudes, their governments are strongly pro-NATO and want all the foreign troops they can get.

Poland also shares a border with Russia (same as Lithuania), but has less of a Russian ethnicity issue. They also have a lot of historic enmity with Russia. Politically and socially they’re more to the right than the Baltic States. So even though the threat of Russia is arguably less, they’re at least as strongly pro-NATO.

Germany has arguably the worst history with Russia, but also has strong economic ties, especially in energy and banking. Generally politically liberal, they seem to be ambivalent about NATO, wanting its protection, but wanting to keep it quiet and also wanting not to pay too much for it.

France, well they’re French.

I could keep going on-and-on, all the way from Norway to Portugal to Turkey. Except for Belarus, no country wants to be a Russian client and all prefer the west to Russia. However, that doesn’t make any individual country pro-US and especially not pro-US military. You could probably say that the more socialist a country is, and the less they have a perceived threat from Russia, the more anti-US they are. But no European country is actually anti-US. There’s some support for less US military involvement in Europe and a more EU-led defence force. France and the EU government are the leading proponents of this idea. But it’s probably a lot less popular at the moment given the threat to Ukraine.

Yes, I’m sure it differs between countries, so there won’t be one good answer for Europe or Europeans. I know there are 'dopers from all over Europe, so my hope was to get input from different regions to see how people in different parts of Europe feel about this issue. I think you nailed the overall viewpoint, though, especially the different regions, though I think in places like Germany there might be more anti-US sentiment than you are indicating, especially wrt either a continued US military presence or an expanding one.

ETA: I also wonder about some of the currently non-aligned nations who are now considering (or I guess re-considering) NATO membership. What do the average citizens think about that? For some, it’s got to be fairly contentious to even seriously consider joining NATO, especially for those who never did during the cold war.

Finland and Sweden are interesting. If Czar Vladamir III went ballistic over Ukraine, he will go apeshit over getting NATO so close to St Petersburg, his own hometown.

No country is really happy with foreign soldiers on their soil, even if they are from a friendly country. It represents an uncomfortable political reality about the security of a country amidst more powerful states and it’s ability to determine its own path.

But all European countries are invested in democratic values and a mixed public/market economy. How that should be done is an eternal conversation. Sometimes the discussion about international relations is influenced by the dramas happening in other parts of the world where the influence of the US is far from a benign Pax America.

However, the reality is that the alternatives to a Pax American are writ very large in the horrible history of Europe in the 20th century. Countries that have experienced repressive foreign occupation don’t forget it, the scars are still there. A few American military bases to guarantee security is a prudent insurance policy. That is never more clear than it is now.

Well, first I feel offended but second it’s absolutely true :wink:
There is no doubt USA and NATO are seen as allies in time of needs, but also USA is often seen as military oppressive and adventurous ( Irak 2003, Talibans,) and NATO is seen as a tool for American economic interests.
France has also a strong army, in constant albeit light warfare, and doesn’t feel the need of support from NATO base on our soil.

And the Russians are 1200 KM away and you guys have your own nukes.

Yes. It’s strange like the fact of having tens of megatons of packed destruction brings peace of mind.
I bet the Ukrainians are regretting letting theirs away.

Interesting article in Wa\Po about a realignment happening in Europe: Germany is gearing up its military spending and is providing weapons to Ukraine; popular support for Ukraine is making world leaders who saw Russia as a counter-balance to US are having to think about that.