China’s nuclear build-up will make it a nuclear peer adversary of the United States in the 2030s. The US will have to deter both Russia and China, as well as other regional adversaries, with forces geared to engage in one major war at a time.

If two major wars occur either simultaneously or sequentially, US military capability will be put under great stress. In the event of a second war, the US may find itself in a situation of conventional military inferiority, which it might have to compensate for with greater reliance on nuclear weapons.

Since the US remains the ultimate guarantor of European security, its deterrence challenges elsewhere affect European security as well. Thus, even the possibility of war in the Indo-Pacific is a European security issue.

European NATO allies can help mitigate the two-peer problem by permanently taking on a greater share of the burden of Europe’s conventional defence. At the same time, the effectiveness of NATO’s nuclear capability must be enhanced.

A strategic defeat for Russia in the war in Ukraine would postpone Russia’s ability to pose a military threat to Europe. Ukraine’s NATO membership would further serve to reduce the threat of another major war in Europe.