France’s President Emmanuel Macron is looking forward — to an entirely new transatlantic “security architecture” for the 21st century. Macron’s vision is an all-European defensive collective that is armed up and can act independently and ahead of “brain dead” NATO.
“I listened to President Biden” and appreciated the list of “common challenges,” Macron responded in French, “but we have an agenda that is unique.” Declaring that his message to this year’s conference had not changed since last year’s, he delivered his by-now-familiar sales pitch, repeating that Europe has its own security issues that should not always require or rely on U.S. participation or permission, especially for military actions on Europe’s borders with the Middle East and North Africa. “We need more of Europe to deal with our neighborhood,” Macron said. “I think it is time for us to take much more of the burden for our own protection.”
Like Biden, Macron is reacting in part to his tumultuous experience with President Donald Trump and the far-right American nationalists who almost kept him in power for four more years. Don’t forget: for a short while Macron tried to buddy up to Trump and American political leaders. But three years ago, he popped the “bromance” bubble and delivered the best political speech Americans had heard in years, rebuking Trumpism and isolationism during a joint session of Congress. And by last year, he was delivering a codified lesson from those experiences: Europeans no longer should leave their security to the Yanks.
To France’s allies, Macron argues, this new order is no threat. “It is totally compatible. More than that…I think it will make NATO even stronger than before,” he said Friday. But it also would require shifting resources, strategy, and culture, increasing defense spending and acting collectively to deploy troops beyond Europe’s borders.
Macron laid some of that groundwork two weeks ago when he spent 90 minutes speaking to the Atlantic Council, the influential Washington-based think tank. He gave three priorities for working with the Biden administration, all of which would lead him to his new-era multilateralism that gives Europe more control and flexibility over its regional security. “My mandate has been to try to reinvent or restore an actual European sovereignty,” he said.
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