There was troubling news for Europeans and Americans as U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron seemed to have a bit of a falling out. Trump has referred to Macron as being a good friend of his despite their two very different political views. The reason for the recent bickering of the two world’s leaders was because of Macron’s suggestion to “build a real European Army to protect itself from the US, China, and Russia.”
At first President Macron’s pronouncement seemed like a far-fetched and unnecessary suggestion; however German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave her full support to Macron. Wouldn’t a European army be superfluous considering the presence of NATO? NATO stands for The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which is a union between 29 different countries from all over North America and Europe. The majority of member-states in NATO are European, so it would appear that Macron and Merkel’s suggested European Army is essentially NATO without America. However, Merkel has stated, “A European army would show the world that there would never again be war in Europe.” This suggests that the primary goal of this army would be to try to maintain peace and unity throughout Europe. Merkel went on to specify, “This is not an army against NATO, it can be a good complement to NATO” which helps to further back up her reassurance of the European Army not being a means to exclude America from the business of European countries. While both Macron and Merkel are in favor of creating a European Army, it appears that their motivations may be different; Macron sees the need to protect against the US and other countries, while Merkel appears to be assuaging that fear.
However, the conflict between Trump and Macron unfortunately does not end here. Trump has already said, “We want to help Europe, but it has to be fair. Right now, the burden-sharing has been largely on the United States. Macron understands that and he understands the United States can only do so much, in fairness to the United States.” Trump then went on to say that he wants the U.S. to be there for European countries, but that he feels instead of creating a European Army, other countries should pay their share of NATO, in which he feels the US has been picking up the slack.
Furthermore, Merkel echoes much of which Macron has been proposing, saying, “The times when we could rely on others are over. This means nothing less than for us Europeans to take our destiny in our own hands if we want to survive as a Union. This means, in the long run, Europe has to become more capable to act.” Hence, Macron and Merkel, arguably the two most outspoken and highly regarded European leaders, are backing the plan to form a European army to ensure that Europe is less dependent on America. For supporters of such a plan, making a European Army is the first step toward a more interdependent Europe, which would be less dependent upon America.
Although it makes sense that Macron and Merkel would want to protect against potential aggression from countries that can be unpredictable at times, why would they want to exclude, and protect themselves from America, a country that has had a large part in the success and rebuilding of Europe in modern years? There is no issue with wanting an independent Europe, however, exiling and potentially making enemies with the United States in the process, does not seem like the best idea for Europe. If strengthening Europe is in fact the main purpose for a European Army, perhaps European nations should focus on dedicating more resources and manpower into NATO. Currently, of the 3.6 million active personnel in NATO, the US supplies about 1.5 million of them.
Hopefully in the near future, the recent qualms between France and the US can be put to rest. Macron and Trump have always had somewhat cordial relationship, and both parties have tried their best to maintain good spirits. Hopefully the two leaders can put this point of contention behind them and strive to find a middle ground.
Baume, Maïa de La, and David M. Herszenhorn. “Merkel Joins Macron in Calling for EU Army to Complement NATO.” POLITICO, POLITICO, 14 Nov. 2018, www.politico.eu/article/angela-merkel-emmanuel-macron-eu-army-to-complement-nato/.
Morin, Rebecca. “Trump Calls Macron’s Comments on Building a European Army to Defend
against US ‘Insulting’.” POLITICO, POLITICO, 9 Nov. 2018, www.politico.eu/article/trump-calls-macrons-comments-on-building-a-european-army-to-defend-against-u-s-insulting/.
SUPERVILLE, JILL COLVIN and DARLENE. “Trump Calls Macron ‘My Good Friend’ After Twitter Barb.” Time, Time, 10 Nov. 2018, time.com/5451239/trump-my-good-friend-macron/.