“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” President John F. Kennedy, September 12, 1962
“I am directing a comprehensive and intensive effort to define a long-term research and development program to begin to achieve our ultimate goal of eliminating the threat posed by strategic nuclear missiles.” President Ronald Reagan, March 23, 1983
Two decades apart, two U.S. Presidents, one Democrat and one Republican, affirmed similar American resolve in reaching for the stars. Neither JFK nor Ronald Reagan voiced concern over the views of others when it came to our legitimate ambitions. The thrust of the Apollo program and “Star Wars” was: This is U.S. policy. This is what will happen. As a consequence, we landed first on the Moon and won the Cold War. As a consequence, our words had credibility.
Scroll forward to today and we see much of U.S. transatlantic policy expressed in assertions of the limits of U.S. influence or interest and temporary, reactive engagement. At a time of dramatic challenges to European security and international law by the Kremlin, we puzzle over what Mr. Putin wants and how far he will go, rather than implementing U.S. strategic policy, regardless of what Mr. Putin wants or does.
The time has come to pronounce U.S. policy in and with Europe in JFK and Ronald Reagan terms. Here are some suggestions:
- To open a new era of transatlantic prosperity, we will greatly intensify and resource a comprehensive and long-term effort to achieve the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Failure or a partial deal is not an option. We can and will do big things with our European partners.
- We will enlarge NATO to all European countries that wish to join and that meet Alliance requirements, starting immediately with those that are ready now. No exceptions; no NATO member vetoes unrelated to a country’s qualifications. No non-NATO vetoes at all. We will openly encourage our European allies to take a similarly ambitious enlargement approach to new European Union memberships.
- We choose to stop U.S. military reductions in Europe and will add a new permanent U.S. presence to the territories of all Alliance member nations unable to meet challenges to their security without our support. It shall be our nation’s policy to provide lethal defense weapons to any non-NATO country in Europe whose democratic ambitions are threatened by outside force and intervention.
- We will engage in a comprehensive and intensive effort to pursue the competition for hearts and minds in favor of free societies, open markets, and human rights, reclaiming the public pulpit for democratic values.
- We choose to take the fight to all those who threaten the safety and security of our society and that of our friends, together with allies and partners, or alone if we must. In that effort, we will bring the full diplomatic, economic, and military arsenal of the United States to bear, excluding no option available to us.
We do this, not because it is easy, but because it is hard.