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Is Trump-Macron Twitter Spat the Start of 

Trans-Atlantic Depart?


 


It was reported earlier this week that French President 

Emmanuel Macron suggested Europe should "build its own 

military in order to protect  itself from the US, China, and 

Russia". This claim enraged American  President Donald 

Trump, who soon angrily tweeted “very insulting”  as a  response.




However, the latest news shows that Trump and Macron have 

reached an agreement on Saturday involving issues of increasing 

European defense spending and related security affairs. As 

international public opinion suggested, this conduct is expected 

to paper over the embarrassing trans-Atlantic dispute. But does it

really work?

  

Europe's Dream of Building an Autonomous Defense


Rome was not built in a day; it is the same with the trans-Atlantic 

tension and resentment. This seemingly accidental event actually

has a much deeper root in the long history of trans-Atlantic 

relations.

 

After World War II, the US rebuilt ruined Western Europe through 

the Marshall Plan. Years later, the US military force integrated 

Western European defense through the framework of NATO as a 

strategic response to the escalating Cold War against the 

Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact.

 

From then on, Western Europeans enjoyed the privilege of 

“free-riding” in security that maintained a high level of 

collective security at a relatively low cost.








However, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Saving military 

expenditure under the US nuclear umbrella constrained the 

strategic and political autonomy of Europeans.



When the two sides across the Atlantic Ocean shared the same 

strategic goal in front of a common enemy, such as the Soviet 

Union at the height of the Cold War, the impulse of defense 

independence was covered.



But when the common foe collapsed and the Cold War ended, a 

growing determination of military autonomy emerged; and the 

EU, which aims to play a more provocative role in both global 

and regional affairs, began to call for larger discourse power within

NATO.



If these demands aren't met, it is reasonable for European leaders

to call for a “real European army” to protect themselves from 

external threat. This long evolving history constructed the deep

background of the Trump-Macron Twitter War.



Macron's 'Insult': The Beginning of a Bitter Trans-Atlantic

Divorce?

 

Before commemorations to mark the 100th anniversary of the end 

of World War I, Macron welcomed Trump under “rainy Parisian 

skies with a firm handshake…But there appeared to be less 

immediate warmth in the greeting between the two than in the 

past.”





CNBC's vivid description of the weather and meeting details 

has set the atmosphere of this visibly reluctant reconciliation 

performance: Seated on gilded chairs in the ornate 

presidential palace, Macron placed his hand on Trump's knee

and referred to him as “my friend,” while Trump kept more 

distance, although he also talked up common ground on an 

issue that had caused friction.


However, beyond analyzing the ritual elements of this event, 

it is still hard to predict an immediate “divorce” between 

Europe and America. The process and interactive results may

depend on the two sides' costs-benefits calculation of various

“strategic asset portfolios,” as well as considering related

security and political risks.


For the EU, they have to make a choice between running a highly

independent and autonomous defensive system at a much higher

financial cost and maintaining the current collective security system 

and regimes that enjoy economic benefits with the disadvantage 

of bearing the American changing moods and bad temper.


 





Key internal and external elements that may change 

European strategists' calculations include but are not limited to: 

(1) Trump's bargain and “price making”: To what extent of 

the portion that Trump urges the EU to bear NATO's military 

expenditure; 

(2) US “threat”: In the EU's perspective, the US does not pose

 an actual direct military threat (such as invasion, territorial 

annexation, etc.); however, the Trump administration's 

abuse of the US' arbitrary power has insulted and 

weakened the EU's collective sovereignty as a whole. 



And the US military's adventurism and consequent military

catastrophes in regions around Europe (such as the Middle

East) have created a lot of (non- traditional) security and 

social problems for Europeans, including but not limited

to refugees, terrorism, social division, the reactive trend of 

rising far- right parties in EU member states, and so forth.


(3) Third-party threat: When the threat from a third party

(e.g. Russia) decreases (in other words, their bilateral relations

are promoted), there will be less necessity for the EU to 

enhance its defensive force, and hence, less motive and

demand for expenditure.


Therefore, the EU may be satisfied with a new option that 

maintains a smaller but more independent-autonomous 

defensive system. This situation requires a general 

reconciliation between the EU and the targeted “third party,” 

which may serve to cripple the US military existence in Europe.


What option will US and EU leaders choose eventually? 

Where is this nearly a-century-long trans-Atlantic 

“marriage” going in a Trump era of uncertainty? May bitter 

time and tougher bargains tell the story. 


Copy Editor/ Kang Sijun

Editor/Kang Sijun

来源:察哈尔学会

WANG Peng

发布日期:2018/11/14  本文被浏览了289次

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