History was made on June 6, 1944, when Allied forces landed in Normandy, the coast of France, and unleashed the process of Nazi Germany’s defeat in the Second World War. U.S. President Joseph Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron attended the ceremony of 80 years of landing in Normandy and vowed to strengthen the transatlantic alliance.

Pledging support to Ukraine in its war with Russia, Macron and Biden warned Moscow of not escalating conflict with Kiev.

Certainly, the world has changed drastically in the last 80 years. Split in the wartime alliance because of the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe and Berlin led to the outbreak of the Cold War in 1946, which eventually culminated in the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the dismantling of the USSR in 1991. The reunification of Germany following the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 transformed the landscape of Europe. Now 80 years after the Allied landing on Normandy and the subsequent defeat of Nazi Germany, it is time to analyze why NATO is still intact and has expanded to the whole of Europe and how Russia is being encircled by the U.S-led transatlantic alliance culminating into war on Ukraine?

According to Voice of America, under the heading “Remembering D-Day” of June 6, 2024: “D-Day was codenamed “Overlord” and is regarded as the largest amphibious invasion in military history. The meaning behind the official name of the operation is more elusive. The U.S. Army said it was alliteration, while the French say the “D” stands for “disembarkation.” U.S. General Dwight Eisenhower said the name stands for “departed date,” a term used in amphibious operations. Eisenhower was the operation’s supreme commander, and 12 nations coordinated the invasion.

Using Allied forces from land, air, and sea, the operation brought five naval assault divisions to the Normandy coast. By entering Normandy, Allied forces hoped to break through and push the Germans east, gradually liberating France, which they accomplished. While more than 130,000 Allied troops reached shore that day 80 years ago, nearly 200,000 sailors operated 7,000 ships and landing craft. During the landing, casualties surpassed 10,000”.

U.S President Joseph Biden, in a statement, proclaimed June 6, 2024, as the National Day of  Remembrance of the 80th anniversary of D-Day and  urged that: “I call upon all Americans to observe this day with programs, ceremonies, and activities that honor those who fought and died so that men and women they had never met might know what it is to be free.”

Had the U.S. military not landed in Normandy and liberated France and other parts of Europe from the Nazi occupation, things would have been different with a reduced role of America in the continent.

If the Warsaw Pact disintegrated and the USSR collapsed, how did NATO survive and surge by encircling the Russian Federation? There was a time when anti-Americanism within NATO was evident to the extent that in the 1960s, France had almost departed from the Atlantic alliance. However, in the last few decades, the expansion of NATO and including former members of the Warsaw Pact in that alliance have deepened America’s role and influence in Europe. Furthermore, except Switzerland and Austria, the two neutral states of Europe, the rest are now members of NATO. The recent inclusion of Sweden and Finland in NATO is a case in point that gives a legitimate reason for the Russian Federation to resist its encirclement by denying Ukraine to join the Atlantic alliance.

The wartime alliance composed of the United States, USSR, and Britain was critical in paving the way for the Nazi defeat, but the disappearance of a common enemy split in the wartime alliance led to the outbreak of the cold war in Europe and then in Asia. The United States, which historically pursued a policy of isolation and followed the Monroe Doctrine of December 2, 1823, entered World War I and World War II late. With the defeat of Axis powers, the vacuum was filled by the United States and the then-Soviet Union.

A chain of events led to the split in the wartime alliance and the formation of NATO on April 4, 1949, followed by the launch of the Warsaw Treaty Organization (WTO) in 1955. The American role in Europe was first by launching the Marshall Plan in 1948 for the rebuilding of war-devastated Western Europe, and then the formation of NATO became paramount and is still crucial for the security of the Continent.

The landing on Normandy 80 years ago and its subsequent implications need to be analyzed from three sides. First, the United States is considered a ‘buffer’ in Europe. Still, thousands of American forces are deployed in Germany and are perceived as a sign of stability. Likewise, thousands of American forces have been deployed in Japan since the end of the Second World War and are perceived as a ‘buffer’ in Asia.

The American role as a ‘buffer’ in Europe is, however, devoid of any logic because it tends to prove the failure of European countries to salvage their own security predicament.

The war in Ukraine, which began in February 2022, was also the result of Russian opposition to Kyiv’s possible joining NATO. When Franco-German friendship, which is the core of peace and stability in Europe, is dependent on American military presence, it means the two countries are failing to play a leadership role in the continent.

Second, it is in the interest of Europe to mend fences with Russia and to revive the idea of the then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev of “Common European Home” and “Europe from Atlantic to Urals.” Instead of confronting Russia, which is still a major power with a colossal nuclear arsenal and a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, Europe needs to enter into a process of dialogue with Moscow. After all, some of the European countries had used Russian gas, and after the imposition of sanctions on Moscow, there was an energy crisis in Europe.

By mending fences with Russia, Europe can certainly hope to de-escalate tension and prevent the expansion of war in Ukraine in its neighborhood. Europe should engage Russia through dialogue and negotiations instead of solely depending on the United States to provide a security umbrella under NATO. American role in the defeat of Axis powers during the Second World War may be crucial, but 80 years after D-Day, it is time for European countries to revisit their entrenched bearing in NATO and sort out security threats that America has exploited to deepen its presence in Europe.

Third, President Biden may be committed to safeguarding European security under NATO’s umbrella, but one also needs to be mindful of how critical former American president Donald Trump was of NATO, particularly in meeting financial obligations.

If Trump returns to power following the November 2024 presidential elections, he may not follow anti-Russian rhetoric on Ukraine.

American role in defeating Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy during the Second World War cannot be denied, but after 80 years, to remind Europe that without its security umbrella, it will face Russian onslaught lacks reason. The security of Europe should be the domain of the countries of that continent. Russia’s role in Europe cannot be undermined because of its geographical presence in that continent, and most of its urban centers are located in its European part.

It seems that both the U.S. and major European members of NATO will have to grapple with issues related to Russia, Ukraine, and the continent’s security predicament in the years to come. For that matter, Europe needs to consider ground realities, particularly the threat that Russia faces from the U.S.-led NATO policy of encirclement and rendering military support to Ukraine.

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