Time for a More Active EU in Defense?

By Ambassador Alexander Vershbow

Ambassador Alexander "Sandy" Vershbow is a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council's Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security. Vershbow was the deputy secretary general of NATO from February 2012 to October 2016. Prior to that, he served for three years as the U.S. assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs. From 1977 to 2008, Vershbow was a career member of the United States Foreign Service, serving as U.S. ambassador to NATO (1998-2001), the Russian Federation (2001-05), and the Republic of Korea (2005-08). During his career, he was centrally involved in strengthening U.S. defense relations with allies in Europe and Asia and in transforming NATO and other European security organizations to meet post-Cold War challenges. He also was involved in efforts to support democracy and human rights in the former Soviet Union.

A proliferation of external threats, including terrorism and cyber attacks, combined with a fractious European Union places Europe in a vulnerable position at the start of the new year. The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder sat down with former Deputy Secretary General of NATO (2012-2016) Ambassador Alexander Vershbow to discuss the future of European defense.

The Cipher Brief:  John McLaughlin, the former Acting Director of the CIA and Cipher Brief network member, mentioned a few weeks ago that Europe is likely to face even more ISIS-targeted terror. We’ve already seen attacks on the continent over the past year. At the same time, Europe’s holding elections across the continent in 2017, and there’s fear of Russian hacking in those elections. Are these fears validated, and do you think Europe is able to respond?

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