Will Macron leave NATO or does he want a fundamental debate which brings gradual change?

Will Macron leave NATO or does he want a fundamental debate which brings gradual change?

Macron`s remarks about the braindeath of NATO and now his proposal to accept the Russian moratorium on medium-range missiles cause hot debates before the next NATO Summit on December 2nd to 3rd. However, not all statements of Macron should be taken for face-value. He wants to initiate a fundamental debate about the NATO goals. Macron sees three options for Russia: Become a superpower again, create an Eurasia with China or establish EU-Russian cooperation as an alternative model. Therefore he proposes a New East Policy with Russia, a security zone for Russia and an European security architecture. The rapprochement with Russia should also lead to a new NATO policy that sees the dangers not in Russia and the East, but in the South, the Greater Middle East and Africa, migration and Islamism. Chirac, Sarkozy and Macron already tried to get acceptance for their idea of a Mediterranean union in the EU, now in NATO.

NATO General Secretary Stoltenberg already declared that no European military could replace the USA and NATO and that this was dangerous talk. In the coming NATO meeting Macron wants a fundamental debate about the meaning of NATO and its orientation against Russia which he would like to replace by a new policy and detente with Russia. However, some NATO members see the danger that Macron´s statements and policy could be an invitation for Putin to test out the defense promise of NATO article 5 and weaken Europe and NATO. However, whether Macron will leave NATO like De Gaulle did, is questionable.

Interesting in this context is the article The Rationale and Contours of an Amicable Transatlantic Security Divorce by Ted Galen Carpenter who proposes and sees a strategic divorce beween the USA and the EU, the breakup of NATO and ist replacement by an US-EU Security Council which  focueses on the alleged real common interest of the two parties.

„French President Emmanuel Macron created a huge stir on both sides of the Atlantic in early November when he stated that NATO was experiencing “brain death.” This was not a casual, off-hand comment on his part. When reporters asked Macron whether he still believed in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, under which an attack on one member is considered an attack on all, he answered: “I don’t know.” Indeed, Macron has been in the vanguard of efforts for several years to create an independent “Europeans only” defense capability through the European Union, a move that would, at a minimum, greatly dilute NATO’s primacy regarding transatlantic security issues. The drive to give the EU a military dimension reflects declining French confidence in NATO’s unity and the reliability of Washington’s continued willingness to be democratic Europe’s security shield.

Other European leaders, most notably German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, criticized Macron’s comment and disputed his assessment. “When France talks about more European cooperation in defense, they’re talking about strategic autonomy. The French are seeking strong European cooperation to replace NATO,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said. She asserted that instead of replacing the Alliance, Germany wanted to strengthen “NATO’s European pillar.”

It is highly probable that statements emerging from future NATO gatherings will echo the German government’s position, rather than French views. However, Macron is correct. US and European perspectives and interests on a variety of important strategic issues continue to drift apart, and no quantity of the usual upbeat clichés about “enduring Alliance solidarity” at the summit will alter that reality. Members must abandon the obsolete notion that American and European interests are compatible to the point of being nearly congruent. Such a belief was exaggerated even during the Cold War when America and its European allies faced a mutual existential threat in the form of the totalitarian Soviet Union. It is an absurd fiction today in a much more diverse and less dire security environment.

European publics, even more than their American counterparts, are implicitly recognizing the new reality. A September 2019 report from the European Council on Foreign Relations, surveying 60,000 people in 14 European Union countries, confirmed that point. The desire for independence and neutrality was evident even with respect to policy toward Russia. When asked “Whose side should your country take in a conflict between the United States and Russia?” the majority of respondents in all 14 EU countries said “neither.” Moreover, the pro-neutralist majority was massive – usually exceeding 70%.

Attitudes were no better regarding other foreign policy controversies involving the United States. When asked “Whose side should your country take in a conflict between the United States and China?” the results were lopsided against backing America – even among Washington’s longstanding NATO partners. Only 18% of French respondents, 20% of Italians and 10% of Germans chose solidarity with the United States.(…)

Trying to maintain NATO, especially with its rigid Article 5 obligation and a large US military presence in Europe, no longer serves the best interest of countries on either side of the Atlantic.

Replacing NATO with a new US-EU Security Coordination Council having more limited obligations, is a better option. Such a mechanism would facilitate regular consultations regarding international developments of mutual concern, and even authorize and coordinate joint military operations, in the unlikely event that step became necessary.

The new Council would embody a more flexible security relationship between equals instead of the current de facto relationship within NATO between a security patron and its dependents. Instead of spouting increasingly empty clichés about alleged Alliance solidarity, participants at the upcoming NATO summit should begin the multi-year process leading to the withdrawal of US forces from Europe, an amicable security divorce, and the transition to a new, more limited transatlantic strategic relationship.“


The CATO Institute is a libertarian think tank with outsider positions.However CATO is libertarian as Ron Paul or his son Rand Paul, both members of the Republican Party, but in the tendency, Trump’s and Macron’s views on NATO to date are also so-called outsider positions, but very similar. And if the US or French Präsident have such views you cannot really call it an outsider position.

However, nobody can imagine a united European military or an united European nuclear power that replaces the USA. Macron overestimates the real power of his Grand Nation and the Europeans and plays little Napoleon and De Gaulle, but I think he is aware of it and wants gradual change, but not the breakup of NATO. Macron now thinks about the Russian moratorium. This won´t be accepted by the rest of NATO member states. Germany’s foreign minister Heiko Maas is incorrect if he says that Macron would split NATO over this question as the NATO member states seem to be pretty united about this issue. However, I hope that Macron will change the attitude of NATO gradually and a compromise will be reached which could also have the result of a new initiative of NATO member countries towards a new policy towards Russia-The second important point Macron makes is that he wants more resources for the South, Africa and the Greater Middle East. Germany is now thinking about sending special forces to Africa which are combatants like the French as the German military to date is sending only military advisers. And he wishes that NATO would follow that path. However, this will be the hottest NATO meeting for a long time. It won´t be the end of NATO and Macron won´t leave the organization. But it´s up to the NATO member goverments to listen to him, make gradual change or initiate a New East Policy or make some initiatives towards Russia like Horst Teltschik proposes in his new book “ The Russian Roulette“. If NATO and the EU ignore or isolate Macron and try to portray him as a Putinist or Mandchurian candidate, he, in the long run, will leave NATO or Marine Le Pen´s Front National will replace him leaving NATO, the Euro and maybe start the Frexit after the Brexit and make a Eurasian instead of a transatlantic axis between Paris, Moscow and Beijing. That makes NATO and the EU strong.

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