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Time for European Defense Autonomy

By expressing doubts about the effectiveness or reliability of NATO, French President Emmanuel Macron has said aloud what many were already thinking: the United States can no longer be trusted as an ally. That means there can no longer be any excuse for the European Union's dithering about establishing a common military capability.

PARIS – In a recent interview with The Economist, French President Emmanuel Macron presented his geopolitical vision of the European Union’s future. In the process, he spoke of a “NATO brain death,” which sounded to many like an echo of US President Donald Trump’s own description of NATO as “obsolete.”

But Macron was not echoing his American counterpart. Macron’s concerns about the state of the alliance reflect his recognition of grim facts on the ground. For the first time since World War II, Europe finds itself without a notable ally or partner. Far from an aberration, Trump’s trade wars and betrayal of allies represent a new norm for the world order.

Multilateralism, human rights, and respect for international law are now under threat everywhere, owing to demagogic attacks on liberal-democratic principles and Trump’s open support for authoritarians. On both sides of the Atlantic, populist politicians regularly mock the idea of an alliance based on shared values, while China and Russia continue to expand their spheres of influence unchecked.

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