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How Europe Is Quietly Putting ‘Strategic Autonomy’ into Practice
Also published in The Hill
The hard lessons learned in Syria have given European leaders the confidence and tools they needed to respond forcefully in Ukraine.
When Ursula von der Leyen last traveled to Washington in November 2021, the European Commission president’s agenda was full of issues that today seem quaint: COVID-19 vaccination rates and a migration crisis in Belarus. On Friday, President Biden will host one of the leading figures of a profoundly transformed European bloc. This time, the agenda will be dominated by the security of the European continent, and von der Leyen will represent a bloc at its most cohesive and powerful in decades. While the EU’s unity today is a clear response to Russian aggression, the tools Brussels has used were not developed overnight. In fact, in a way few observers may realize, the shadow of another conflict hangs over the Ukraine war and impacts how the bloc views its tools and its roles: the Syrian civil war...