Macron crit­i­cised by US and Ger­many over Nato 'brain death' claims

The Guardian (USA) - - Front Page - An­gelique Chrisafis in Paris

Em­manuel Macron has said Nato is in the throes of “brain death” and Euro­pean coun­tries can no longer rely on the US to de­fend its al­lies, draw­ing crit­i­cism from both the US and Ger­many.

“What we are cur­rently ex­pe­ri­enc­ing is the brain death of Nato,” the French pres­i­dent told the Econ­o­mist in an in­ter­view. “You have no co­or­di­na­tion what­so­ever of strate­gic de­ci­sion-mak­ing between the United States and its Nato al­lies. None. You have an un­co­or­di­nated ag­gres­sive ac­tion by an­other Nato ally, Turkey, in an area where our in­ter­ests are at stake.”

Asked whether he still be­lieved in the “col­lec­tive de­fence” stip­u­la­tions of ar­ti­cle five of Nato’s found­ing treaty, un­der which an at­tack against one mem­ber is con­sid­ered an at­tack against all mem­bers, Macron an­swered: “I don’t know.”

Nato “only works if the guar­an­tor of last re­sort func­tions as such. I’d ar­gue that we should re­assess the re­al­ity of what Nato is in the light of the com­mit­ment of the United States,” he said.

Macron’s ques­tion­ing of Nato’s ef­fec­tive­ness and sug­ges­tion Euro­pean coun­tries in the 29-mem­ber al­liance should re­assess their sit­u­a­tion comes ahead of a key sum­mit with lead­ers in­clud­ing Don­ald Trump in the UK early next month.

They were met with crit­i­cism from Ger­many and the US, the al­liance’s largest mem­ber.

The US sec­re­tary of state, Mike Pom­peo, stressed the im­por­tance of

Nato on a visit to eastern Ger­many to mark 30 years since the fall of the Ber­lin Wall.

“I think Nato re­mains an im­por­tant, crit­i­cal, per­haps his­tor­i­cally one of the most crit­i­cal, strate­gic part­ner­ships in all of recorded his­tory,” Pom­peo told re­porters in Leipzig.

An­gela Merkel, the Ger­man chan­cel­lor, re­jected Macron’s as­sess­ment, say­ing he had “used dras­tic words, that [were] not my view of co­op­er­a­tion in Nato”.

Speak­ing af­ter talks in Ber­lin with the chief of the tran­sat­lantic de­fence al­liance, Jens Stoltenber­g, Merkel said: “I don’t think that such sweep­ing judge­ments are nec­es­sary, even if we have prob­lems and need to pull to­gether.”

Stoltenber­g said Nato was strong, and that the US and Europe were work­ing “more to­gether than we have done for decades”.

Macron had said in his in­ter­view that Wash­ing­ton was show­ing signs of “turn­ing its back on us”, as demon­strated by the US pres­i­dent’s sud­den de­ci­sion to pull troops out of north­east­ern Syria last month with­out con­sult­ing his al­lies.

The move caught Nato’s lead­ing Euro­pean pow­ers – Bri­tain, France and Ger­many – by sur­prise and paved the way for Turkey to launch a cross-bor­der mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion tar­get­ing Syr­ian Kur­dish forces.

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 US when it came to the Mid­dle East.

He re­peated his long-held be­lief the

EU must de­velop a mil­i­tary force and shore up its abil­ity to act as a po­lit­i­cal bloc with poli­cies on tech­nol­ogy, data and the cli­mate emer­gency.

“Look at what is hap­pen­ing in the world,” he said. “Things that were un­think­able five years ago – to be wearing our­selves out over Brexit, to have Europe find­ing it so dif­fi­cult to move for­ward, to have an Amer­i­can ally turn­ing its back on us so quickly on strate­gic is­sues – no­body would have be­lieved this pos­si­ble.”

He said Europe was on “the edge of a precipice. If we don’t wake up … there’s a con­sid­er­able risk that in the long run we will dis­ap­pear geopo­lit­i­cally, or at least that we will no longer be in con­trol of our des­tiny. I be­lieve that very deeply.”

Pho­to­graph: Reuters

Em­manuel Macron made his com­ments be­fore a Nato sum­mit early next month in Lon­don.

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