In the context of war for supremacy between Beijing and Washington, the EU is not obliged to take sides, and should better find a way to protect its own interests, writes Valdai Club expert Pascal Boniface. Europe must avoid following blindly Washington and must be the actor of its own history and not its passive spectator.
By telling The Economist that NATO is suffering from “brain death” and that Europe must develop a military force of its own, Emmanuel Macron has rocked the boat. He has also stated that President Trump does not share the idea of “European Project”. On top of that, he added that even if Trump is not reelected, historical trends are pulling the NATO allies apart, with a widening gap between the United States and Europe.
His words have created a strong emotion and even fears in many European countries. For their leaders, NATO is still the bedrock of their security, and they perceived no need to change a situation existing since 1949, even 30 years after the fall of the Berlin wall.
Actually, European leaders make a confusion between their wishes and reality, turning a blind eye on it. Macron has just described the present situation.
Could we trust an alliance when the head of state of the main country has declared it obsolete? How strong is the US guarantee when Americans are able to pull out their troops from Syria without either consultation with or warning their European allies and abandoning the Kurds, which were decisive in the war against ISIS? When a member of the alliance, Turkey, is fighting without any consultations against these Kurdish allies?
That’s why Macron pleads for European strategic autonomy. That’s why he wants to resume discussions with Russia, to give France and Europe more room for maneuver. During the electoral campaign in 2017, Macron referred himself to “Gaullo-mitterandism”, which means the traditional French diplomacy which aims, above all, to maintain French independence from the US. According to Hubert Vedrine, France is an ally of, but not aligned to the US.
China is more and more perceived in Washington as a strategic threat. Donald Trump regularly threatens to launch a trade war against Beijing, criticizing the huge US trade deficit toward China (400 billion dollars). But animosity toward China is not only Trump’s view. It is a matter of consensus in Washington, gathering both Republicans and Democrats.
But, in this context of war for supremacy between Beijing and Washington, the EU is not obliged to take sides, and should better find a way to protect its own interests. Europe must avoid following blindly Washington and must be the actor of its own history and not its passive spectator.