Macron Is Right About NATO and the EU, but Will Europe Listen?

Macron Is Right About NATO and the EU, but Will Europe Listen?
French President Emmanuel Macron during a media conference at an EU summit in Brussels, Oct. 18, 2019 (AP photo by Frank Augstein).

It is an enduring mystery how French President Emmanuel Macron can simultaneously be such an insightful and articulate political analyst and such a ham-fisted politician. Whatever the explanation, he never fails to deliver on both counts.

The most recent example is Macron’s interview with The Economist on what is ailing NATO and the European Union, and how Europe got into its current predicament. If Macron were simply a university professor or international affairs analyst, the interview would be an informative read. Because he is the president of France, it has already created one diplomatic incident with a non-EU government and generated anxiety and alarm among his EU partners across the continent.

In the interview, Macron offers a straight-talking, no-holds-barred assessment of Europe’s failure to adequately measure and respond to the dramatic changes in direction that international politics have taken over the past 20 years. In style, it bears a resemblance to then-U.S. President Barack Obama’s interview with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg in April 2016, in which Obama expounded on the broad trends driving the evolution of global affairs, called out U.S. allies in Europe and the Middle East as “free riders,” and expressed his disdain for the Washington foreign policy establishment.

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