Angela Merkel is on her way out as Chancellor of Germany, whether it be at the end of her term (she’s not running again) or through being forced out sooner. But that doesn’t mean that she’s going quietly into that good night. Following some rather acerbic remarks by French President Emmanuel Macron about the European Union needing to be able to stand up to the United States, Merkel chimed in this week with a wonderful plan of her own, no matter how offensive it may sound. (I’ll get to why it actually is a wonderful plan shortly.)
She suggested that the EU needs their own standing army so they can be well defended against possible aggression. She was supporting Macron’s recent comments where he said Europe needed protection from, “China, Russia and even the United States of America.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday backed French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in his call for a European army — a move that President Trump has called “insulting” as he urged the countries to fulfill their NATO commitments instead.
Merkel told lawmakers in the E.U. Parliament in Strasbourg that “we have to work on the vision of one day creating a real European army.” She clarified the such a force would not mean the end of NATO, and also called for the creation of a European security council.
The remarks were met with a mix of boos and cheers from lawmakers, with some British representatives crying “Rubbish! Rubbish!”
When you’ve got the Brits standing up and yelling “rubbish” at you, you’ve really touched a nerve. (Much of the British government isn’t exactly enamored of Trump these days.)
On the surface, it’s certainly insulting to the United States. The idea that the country whose military has done more to keep Europe free over the last century than anyone else (except possibly Russia, ironically, during WW2) is someone they need to be ready to fight would be hilarious if it weren’t so sad. Macron said that as an obvious barb to get under Donald Trump’s skin, and possibly to help boost his plummeting approval numbers. But what was Merkel’s motivation to take such a cheap shot?
I’ll leave that for her to explain if she wishes, but I did want to get back to my original premise, which was that this is a great idea. Trump has been pushing Europe to take more responsibility for their own defense and invest more in their military capabilities since his first day in office. If we have both Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron pushing Europe to raise up their own armies… that’s fantastic. Who really cares what provides the greatest motivation for them to do it, so long as they get the job done?
We’ll still be ready to defend our NATO allies and the rest of the free nations of the world if push comes to shove. But we’ve got plenty of pots boiling on the stove at the moment and limited military resources, not to mention the funding for them. If Europe can become more of a combined military threat to anyone who might actually be interested in attacking them, that’s a win. And I won’t even insinuate here that Donald Trump pushed them into doing what he wanted all along. I’m sure it was just a coincidence.