Europe has always been a rather tenuous concept. A rump continent, Europe represented the barbarous hinterlands for the Greeks and Romans. The first use of the term "European" occurred in a chronicle describing the forces of Charles the Hammer that turned back the northward advance of Islam at the battle of Tours in 732. Long celebrated in Europe as a victory of civilization over barbarism, the Battle of Tours was, as historian David Levering Lewis reminds us in God's Crucible, actually the opposite: "the victory of Charles the Hammer must be seen as greatly contributing to the creation of an economically retarded, balkanized, fratricidal Europe that, in defining itself in opposition to Islam made virtues out of religious persecution, cultural particularism, and hereditary aristocracy."
The last U.S. nuclear weapons deployed in Europe may be on their way home, ending more than 50 years of their deployment abroad. A new report on the future of these weapons shows that 24 NATO members seek to end deployment of U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe or will not block a NATO consensus decision to remove them. Only three countries are holding out, and only one is actively trying to break the emerging consensus. The coming months will be decisive for the future of the 200 or so U.S. nukes in Europe.
With little notice from most press outlets, NATO recently developed contingency plans to defend its Central and Eastern European member states against potential Russian aggression. This move follows the disclosure in January that the alliance would create such plans for Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
President Barack Obama decided to cancel the plans for missile defense based in the Czech Republic and Poland this past October. Washington has since worked on an alternative that Obama calls a "stronger, smarter and swifter defense" that "best responds to the threats we face." The new system is built around sea-and-land-based SM-3 missile interceptors.