[Ed. – Well…yeah.]
Top European leaders repeatedly lamented that 2015 saw all of Europe’s problems deepen, and unanimously predicted that in 2016 they would get even worse.
“The question of war and peace has returned to the continent,” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told the audience, indirectly referring to Russian military interventions. “We had thought that peace had returned to Europe for good.”
What was missing from the conference speeches and even the many private discussions in the hallways, compared to previous years, was the discussion of what Europe wanted or even expected the U.S. to do.
Several European officials told me that there was little expectation that President Barack Obama, in his last year in office, would make any significant policy changes to address what European governments see an existential set of crises that can’t wait for a new administration in Washington.
“There’s a shared assessment that the European security architecture is falling apart in many ways,” said Camille Grand, director of the Foundation for Strategic Research in Paris. “There is a growing sense that this U.S. administration is focused on establishing a legacy on what has already been achieved rather than trying to achieve anything more. Yet the problems can get much worse.”