The Pentagon wants NATO help with surveillance and air strikes in Afghanistan. It is uniquely audacious and American arrogance to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, to make such a request to his allies: Biden did not consult them even before withdrawing in disaster from Kabul in disastrous and humiliating circumstances we know.
It would surprise me that Paris is there. France will not forget – and must not forget – Biden’s slaps in the Australian submarine affair.
Avenge France with a cool gesture
Six months before the presidential election, Macron has to make a gesture of wits. Retaliate while making sure that the response fits with the country’s geopolitical interests. Otherwise his rivals, from the Nationalists to the Communists, will jump on him with both feet. Paris is said to be considering withdrawing France from NATO’s integrated military command, which it joined in 2009 under Sarkozy after an absence of 43 years. In 1966, de Gaulle withdrew from it “to preserve the independence of France in world affairs”, much to the chagrin of the Americans.
In 2003, France refused to join the United States in attacking Iraq based on lies that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction. American politicians were so outraged that they foolishly forced the Capitol Restaurant to change the name of the French fries from “Free Fries” to “Freedom Fries”.
In 2019, Macron said NATO was “brain dead” and although Trump found his words “extremely offensive” he stood by them. In fact, the Atlantic alliance is slowly disintegrating.
The Turks have better relations with Moscow than their NATO counterparts. They bought a Russian air defense system in contravention of the organization’s policies. France and Germany are already operating a joint military unit in parallel, the beginning of the future European army. The 6000-strong brigade is under the command of the European Rapid Response Corps, based in Strasbourg.
The Europeans are behind Macron, but to what extent?
Germany joined France yesterday in blaming the United States for negotiating the secret pact with Australia and Britain. Berlin has more important economic relations with China than Washington. Trump and Biden’s anti-China policies are not well received in Europe.
“One of our member states was treated in an unacceptable manner,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen of Germany.
To show their solidarity with France and their displeasure, EU ambassadors postponed a trade and technology meeting with the United States that would have been a major step forward for the transatlantic alliance.
The new French withdrawal from NATO’s integrated command, if it occurred, would mark a crucial turning point for the organization, the beginning of its eventual marginalization.
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