French President Emmanuel Macron is voicing concern that the United States is not a reliable NATO partner. Macron wants France to have a bigger role in the Middle East, for example. President Trump’s decision to pull American troops out of Syria last month brought a frustrated reaction from Macron as Trump acted alone without consultation with allies. He not only questioned the U.S. commitment to NATO, but said the organization is brain dead.
The United States is showing signs of “turning its back on us”, as demonstrated by President Donald Trump’s sudden decision last month to pull troops out of northeastern Syria last month without consulting the allies, the French leader said.
That move caught NATO’s leading European powers – France, Britain and Germany – by surprise and paved the way for Turkey, another NATO member, to launch a cross-border military operation targeting Syrian Kurdish forces.
At the time Macron decried NATO’s inability to react to Turkey’s offensive and said it was time Europe stopped acting like a junior ally of the United States when it came to the Middle East.
This complaint is nothing new from Macron. He’s long wanted more European defense cooperation to stand up to decisions from the United States but so far he has been resisted by Britain and others. He has spoken about the need for a European defense system. The other countries want the United States to remain the center of Western defense, especially up against Russia.
Macron tweeted out his complaint last week and the reaction from other leaders was less than encouraging. He must have been caught off-guard. German Chancellor Angela Merkel responded by taking Macron to task for his “drastic words”. “The French President has chosen drastic words. This is not my view of cooperation within NATO,” she said. “Irreplaceable” is how she described the alliance of countries.
Poland’s prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki called Macron’s remarks “irresponsible” and “dangerous”.
In an interview Mr Morawiecki said Nato was “the most important alliance in the world when it comes to preserving freedom and peace”. He said Mr Macron’s questioning of whether its members could still be counted on to defend each other — the cornerstone of Europe’s security architecture — was “dangerous”.
“I think President Macron’s doubts about [Nato’s mutual defence clause] can make other allies wonder if perhaps it is France that has concerns about sticking to it. I hope that we can still count on France fulfilling its obligations,” Mr Morawiecki told the Financial Times.
President Trump has been critical of Europe’s dependence on the United States for defense. He has frequently asked other countries, particularly Germany, to meet NATO’s target of 2% of national output on defense. He has been more successful than his predecessors in getting other countries to pay their dues. Past presidents gave lip service to encouraging other countries to pay overdue dues but there was little incentive for them to do so. Trump likes to hold foreign allies accountable. His original expressions of a desire to pull America out of NATO, mostly when he was a candidate, can be seen as a bargaining technique. The threat made other countries focus on what he expected from them.
President Trump will host NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg Thursday at the White House. A discussion on “more equitable burden-sharing” is on the agenda.
“The two leaders will discuss the NATO allies’ progress on increasing defence spending and ensuring more equitable burden-sharing,” the White House said in a statement on Saturday.
Both the leaders are scheduled to meet on November 14 and will discuss counterterrorism, awareness on protecting 5G networks and building resilience against cyber-attacks.
“The President will also stress the importance of strengthening the NATO Alliance’s defence and deterrence against external threats, maintaining the focus on counterterrorism, raising Allies’ awareness on protecting 5G networks and critical infrastructure, and building resilience against cyber-attacks,” the White House added.
It appears as though Macron reached out to President Trump after he received less than favorable remarks from his European colleagues. They spoke and agreed to meet ahead of the Dec. 3-4 NATO summit in London. Imagine that.
Excellente discussion ce soir par téléphone avec le président @realDonaldTrump : Syrie, Iran, OTAN. Beaucoup de convergences ont été évoquées et nous nous verrons avant le sommet de l’OTAN à Londres.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) November 11, 2019
Translation: Excellent discussion tonight over the phone with the President
@realDonaldTrump : Syria, Iran, NATO. Many convergences have been mentioned and we will see each other before the NATO summit in London.
Trump’s art of the deal is unconventional to run-of-the-mill politicians because he comes from the business world. It’s hard to argue with his success. During his speech to the Economic Club of New York Tuesday morning, as I write this, he said something that works into this. He mentioned polling on his popularity. Noting that Barack Obama is much more popular than him in Germany, Trump said, “He should be.” “If I am ever more popular, I’m not doing my job.” That is how he sees his presidency. Trump’s not out to make friends, he’s out to get results.