Can NATO possibly bring to life the talk of their "brain death"? That is not excluded. For the prophecy of the near end can help to focus the thoughts and gather the forces to avert the seemingly irrefutable. In this respect, Emmanuel Macron's statement may have done the Atlantic Alliance a favor.
It is true, there are enough reasons not to trust the loyalty of US President Donald Trump. However, French presidents have always had doubts about American reliability. they wanted to decide on the protection of their country in full national sovereignty. And they have always been the driving force when it comes to independent European defense capability.
The key word today is strategic autonomy. However, such a thing is, and the French know that, for the foreseeable future, it will be an illusion. The Europeans do not have nearly the necessary military strength for this. And they would also like to sincerely thank for raising the necessary financial resources. In any case, with two percent of GDP, the current target of NATO, it would no longer be enough.
The truth is that the share of non-EU countries in NATO's total defense spending after Brexit will be about 80 percent. Strategic autonomy - that would be easy for the US, UK and Canada. But certainly not for the European Union. Quite apart from the fact that hardly anyone except the French seeks it.
Because many Europeans remember the Balkan wars of the 1990s as well as the intervention in Libya. In no time, the Americans would intervene because the EU states lacked everything: information, transport capacity, ammunition. And above all, the common political will. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has stated in an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung denkbarklar: "The European Union can not defend Europe."
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In addition, in contrast to Trump's pompous speeches, Americans have reinforced their military presence in Europe under his presidential stalemate. They stationed more soldiers in the EU today than at the end of the Obama administration. And for the coming year, large maneuvers are planned on European soil, bringing about 20,000 US soldiers across the Atlantic - the largest troop deployment to Europe in 25 years.
Of course, a future is possible in which America turns away from Europe. That is what the Europeans should prepare for. And they do it too. For years integrated military formations have been built across national borders. But this takes time and also easily conflicts with the desire for sovereignty when it comes to national security. Eberhard Zorn, the Inspector General of the Bundeswehr, does not like to talk about the goal of a "European army", but rather about an "army of Europeans".
Expand the role of NATO
Ursula von der Leyen, the future president of the European Commission, said at a speech in Berlin these days "European mustaches" to "learn the language of power". This also meant that it had to "build its own muscles, where we could rely on others for a long time - for example in security policy". Emmanuel Macron may like such words. For others, especially for those who are sick of American muscle games, they should get used to.
In one thing, most EU governments agree: they want to expand the role of Europe in NATO and strengthen their own defense capability. Even the German Minister of Defense and her colleague in the Foreign Office agree by way of exception. Even the social democrat Heiko Maas comes to the conclusion: "It would be a mistake if we undermined NATO. Without the United States, neither Germany nor Europe are in a position to protect effectively."
Sober you have to see that well. To this realization, the debate triggered by Emmanuel Macron can certainly contribute. In fact, the French President has been diagnosed with a deadly death. And with such a resuscitation attempts can be quite successful.