In deciding to give an interview to The Economist where he declared NATO “brain dead,” President Emmanuel Macron certainly knew he would spark indignation among his fellow European leaders. He chose to do it nevertheless, not out of proverbial French arrogance, but because he deems it both necessary and urgent. A year away from the next U.S. elections (and with Brexit forever dragging on), an unprecedented window of opportunity is about to slam shut for France.
This unique alignment of planets, which, in the French vision, should have finally brought the EU onto the path of strategic autonomy and away from dependence on les Anglo-Saxons, has not produced the expected results. Instead, most European governments, confronted with the inconvenience of their dependence, seem to prefer discreet but concrete steps to appease the United States and to reinforce the U.S.-dominated Alliance. To Paris, this is utterly illogical. But as Tony Blair’s former advisor Robert Cooper, had said precisely on the issue of EU autonomy: “The world does not proceed by logic. It proceeds by political choice.” The French president has therefore decided to unambiguously display the choice that, in his view, awaits Europe – even at the risk of appearing “drastic” to the German chancellor.