At The American Spectator, Joseph A. Harriss explains that Emmanuel Macron and President Trump will have much to discuss at a planned meeting in London before a summit celebrating NATO’s 70th anniversary. He writes (abridged):
Nervous self-congratulation will be the order of the day next week in London as representatives of the 29 member nations convene to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
There will be much relief expressed that President Donald Trump has changed his mind, now saying NATO is not obsolete after all.
But there will also be nervous glances over the shoulder at glaring issues that can no longer be ignored. With the organization having lost its basic raison d’être nearly 30 years ago with the implosion of the Warsaw Pact, cracks in the façade of Western unity are becoming ever more visible.
After the U.S. abruptly withdrew troops from northern Syria — French president Emmanuel Macron said angrily that he learned about it on Twitter — NATO members were left outraged but impotent by member Turkey’s unilateral attacks against Kurdish forces there.
A great explosion of noise was made in early November when Macron dropped an unexpected bombshell on the alliance. “What we are currently experiencing,” he told the Economist in a rare cover-story interview, “is the brain death of NATO.”
His critique went further, to the very heart of NATO’s deterrence, questioning whether or not Article 5 of the treaty, stipulating that an attack on one member was an attack on all, was still operative.
All in all, Macron’s sally constitutes the most virulent attack on NATO — and U.S. leadership — since Charles de Gaulle withdrew France from the alliance’s integrated military command in 1966.
Macron is scheduled to meet Trump in London before the summit. They’ll have a lot to talk about.
Joseph A. Harriss is The American Spectator’s Paris correspondent.
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