"What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO," Macron told the Economist magazine in an interview. Photo: POOL/AFP
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NATO allies clash after Macron says alliance experiencing 'brain death'

39 Comments
By Laurence BENHAMOU and Stuart WILLIAMS

NATO partners argued Thursday over the alliance's worth after French President Emmanuel Macron said it was undergoing "brain death", prompting a fierce defense of the bloc from Germany and the U.S. while drawing praise from non-member Russia.

"What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO," Macron told The Economist magazine in an interview published Thursday, ahead of a NATO summit next month.

But German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended the 70-year-old military alliance as "indispensible" and said Macron's "sweeping judgements" were not "necessary".

Addressing journalists by Merkel's side, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg warned that a weakened transatlantic alliance could "divide Europe", while the US Secretary of State, also in Germany, insisted NATO was "important, critical."

In the interview, Macron decried a lack of coordination between Europe and the U.S. and lamented recent unilateral action in Syria by Turkey, a key member of the 70-year-old military alliance.

"You have no coordination whatsoever of strategic decision-making between the United States and its NATO allies. None," he said.

"You have an uncoordinated aggressive action by another NATO ally, Turkey, in an area where our interests are at stake," Macron added according to an English transcript released by The Economist.

After talks with Stoltenberg in Berlin, Merkel said Macron "used drastic words, that is not my view of cooperation in NATO".

She added: "I don't think that such sweeping judgements are necessary, even if we have problems and need to pull together", while insisting that "the transatlantic partnership is indispensible for us".

Stoltenberg said any attempt to distance Europe from North America "risks not only to weaken the Alliance, the transatlantic bond, but also to divide Europe".

In a recent setback for the alliance, a Turkish military operation against Kurdish forces in northern Syria was staunchly opposed by fellow members like France, but made possible by a withdrawal of U.S. forces ordered by President Donald Trump.

For Macron, "strategically and politically, we need to recognize that we have a problem".

"We should reassess the reality of what NATO is in light of the commitment of the United States," he warned, adding that: "In my opinion, Europe has the capacity to defend itself."

Stoltenberg said he welcomed efforts to strengthen European defense, "but European unity cannot replace transatlantic unity. We need to stand together."

Pompeo, on a visit to the German city of Leipzig as part of anniversary events for the fall of the Berlin Wall 30 years ago, agreed.

"I think NATO remains an important, critical, perhaps historically one of the most critical strategic partnerships in all of recorded history," he told journalists.

Macron said it was crucial to seek rapprochement with Moscow, which regards NATO and its expansion into ex-Communist bloc states with huge suspicion given that the alliance was set up to counter the USSR.

"We need to reopen a strategic dialogue, without being naive and which will take time, with Russia," said Macron, who wants to broker an end to the conflict in Ukraine and has courted President Vladimir Putin as a partner.

He said NATO did not reexamine its role after the collapse of the Soviet Union and "the unarticulated assumption is that the enemy is still Russia."

And for all the anti-Western bombast from the Kremlin, Putin would find his long-term strategic options limited to "a partnership project with Europe," the president said.

"If we want to build peace in Europe, to rebuild European strategic autonomy, we need to reconsider our position with Russia," he insisted.

From Moscow, foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova hailed Macron's "brain death" observation as "golden words... a precise definition of the current state of NATO".

The French president, seen by many analysts as Europe's most prominent leader amid Brexit and Merkel's looming exit in 2021, has sought to stand tall on the foreign policy stage and to implement a vision of reforming Europe.

But he said the European Union was on "the edge of a precipice".

"Europe has forgotten that it is a community, by increasingly thinking of itself as a market...," said Macron, who recently blocked expanding the EU to include North Macedonia and Albania.

He also said he wanted European nations to break a "taboo" against using deficits to stimulate growth and investment.

Macron said the world was in turmoil, with a risk of the U.S. and China becoming the sole global powers, and authoritarian regimes emerging in Europe's own backyard.

"All this has led to the exceptional fragility of Europe which, if it can't think of itself as a global power, will disappear, because it will take a hard knock," he said.

© 2019 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


39 Comments
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NATO’s 2nd largest member, Turkey, is using NATO weapons on Kurdish civilians.

And NATO does nothing to stop this atrocity.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

Turkey also has Russian weapons. American nuclear bombs.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Well he can't just come out and say that Trump is "brain dead" can he?

0 ( +8 / -8 )

NATO’s 2nd largest member, Turkey, is using NATO weapons on Kurdish civilians.

And NATO does nothing to stop this atrocity.

With the blessing of Russia. Remember, you cheered Donny pulling our troops out of the area and cheered the Turks for bringing stability.

Very telling that you now disparage NATO for the actions of the Turks, who you had previously praised. You're not trying to sow discord, are you?

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Macron criticising Trump suggesting NATO may no longer need America for the defense of Europe.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

As Trump continues to weaken the US, the Russian Federation and its creeping Eurasian Economic Union expand. Trump's helping Russia. And China's Belt and Road. Given Trump cares only for himself, not one anything for the country (except perhaps as a tax haven), the question has to be asked: what's Trump getting for being a tool.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

what's Trump getting for being a tool.

To be fair, Donny would be a tool whether he is being used by Putin and Xi.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Macron says alliance experiencing 'brain death'

Who would have thunk that Macaron, the worst globalist goon right after Merkel, would actually say something true for once. Well, surprises do happen.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

@willib globalist

It would help if users would define how that term's being used. Would the Russian Federation's Eurasian Economic Union, which has broadened to include Venezuela and other oil producing states around the globe, and Russia's agreements to co-operate with China and its Belt and Road be considered globalistic? Mighty broad global reach there.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Trump backs Turkey and undermines NATO. Putin must be very happy.

Let's not take our eyes of the prize, Macron. There is nothing wrong with NATO, per se. Clearly, however, there is something wrong with the antithetical unilateral actions of one, Donald Trump. The problem is not NATO... it's Donald Trump's undermining of NATO, apparently for the sole benefit of Russian interests.

Any talk of brain death MUST be referring to Trump.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Pres Putin wants the NATO Alliance, the United Nations and the World Trade Organization all to disband. Pres Trump by veto of new judges, will dissolve the WTO Appellate Court in December when two of the four remaining judges retire. Pres Trump also refuses to pay the membership fee to the United Nations, causing staff to work without pay. All will benefit Russia

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Who would have thunk that Macaron, the worst globalist goon right after Merkel

I'm having troubles figuring out the classification system for 'globalists'. I've asked multiple times, but until the other day I never got a response. The other day, the response I got defined globalists as global corporations, but now you've listed two individuals as globalists.

Can you please explain the criteria that defines these two as globalists? And in this definition of globalists, are corporations included or not?

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Russia and Putin's No. 1 strategic geopolitical goal is to destabilize, and ultimately eliminate NATO - which has been a check on Russian bad behavior since the start of the Cold War.

He began that effort with his "sweeping and systemic" influence campaign in 2015 that elected his stooge Donnie to the WH.

Since then we've seen Russia strategic victories and wins across the world in addition to conflict within NATO.

We need to get the Russian Poodle out of the WH immediately before lasting damage is done to the one institution that keeps Putin from invading and reconstituting the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Trump backs Turkey and undermines NATO. Putin must be very happy

Putin has got Trump by the balls...end of story.

Or Trump just hasn't got the fight in him.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

I am sure North Korea is feeling smug.. They have chosen the winning side in their minds.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I agree that Trump may not have been the best thing for the alliance but it seems very short-sighted to throw away a very long and successful alliance due to some recent events, Trump will be gone eventually.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I agree that Trump may not have been the best thing for the alliance but it seems very short-sighted to throw away a very long and successful alliance due to some recent events, Trump will be gone eventually.

Depends on how you see it. Another angle is, Trump is just there to make you see what's really happening.

NATO is weakening, whether you like it or not. The gas line = dependence on Russia, The Russian weapons (Turkey) = dependence on Russia. That's not strength.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Globalist one of most misused words.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Pres Putin wants the NATO Alliance, the United Nations and the World Trade Organization all to disband.... All will benefit Russia

Who cares what Putin wants? If he wants all little puppy dogs to be happy, does that mean we should punish puppy dogs? If peace benefits Russia, that means we should be against peace?

A simple question of right and wrong, which so many cannot grasp because of the infectious neo-McCarthyism. When did everyone on the left become so Nixonian?

NATO is obsolete. The only reason it exists is to provide a military force aimed at threatening Russia. And China's autocrats are laughing.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

NATO’s 2nd largest member, Turkey, is using NATO weapons on Kurdish civilians.

> And NATO does nothing to stop this atrocity.

Gee, I wonder whose fault that is? Its almost like the President of Turkey just called somebody up and asked if they could attack the Kurds and the lunkhead on the other end of the line just said "Sure!"

5 ( +6 / -1 )

No commanteer, it is not about right and wrong but more like cause and affect. I hope Macrons' speech was a wake up call to the WTO and the UN as well. One country falling by the wayside should not topple the whole institution. Reforms must be made and met.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Who cares what Putin wants?

Given Russia's history of totalitarian regimes, e.g. monarchies and Stalinism, and what they have done throughout history and recently to quell opposition (dioxin and Novichok), and how the current 'Federation' is expanding, and that the expansion is financed by burning more coal, gas and oil contributing to greater global pollution levels, I 'care what Putin wants' and don't want him to create another empire. And I don't want China to fill the empire void left as Trump deflates the US. Leave sovereign states alone.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I think Europe needs to be united against the threats from the US and Russia.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

No commanteer, it is not about right and wrong but more like cause and affect.

What cause and what effect? Russians might say that the US military in 100 countries, especially in neighboring countries, and the NATO-ization of their western neighbors is a cause of concern.

 I 'care what Putin wants' and don't want him to create another empire.

This will never happen. I doubt even Putin has this fantasy. Look at the facts, a small economy, an aging population, and unused land steadily being encroached on by China. People are looking at mid-20th century concerns while ignoring the threats of the 21st century. A new Russian Empire is as likely as a new Spanish Empire.

We are looking at an incredible waste of money, lives and planning in focusing on Russia. The facts speak for themselves.

And I don't want China to fill the empire void left as Trump deflates the US. Leave sovereign states alone.

How is NATO and its focus on Russia going to help that? The US is deflating, and will continue to deflate, no matter who is president. And China will move to fill the void to the degree possible. Sovereign states should be left alone - tell that to the USA.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

All of Trumps' moves are designed to make the UN, NATO, WTO world order seem irrelavent and without meaning. This is why the UN, NATO and the WTO is feeling the crunch. There existence can not be dependent upon the US. I hope they all see this and understand that the US has gone Renegade.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Globalist one of most misused words.

The word ‘globalist’ is now a pull-toy expression used by those too lazy or dull to think for themselves or formulate any decent argument. It’s like ‘socialist’ or ‘MSM’.

I don’t think I’ve ever come across any interesting posts from posters using these themes. They are uninteresting, sheeplike and predictable people.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

I don’t think I’ve ever come across any interesting posts from posters using these themes. They are uninteresting, sheeplike and predictable people.

I hate to harp on about it, but I've seen and heard it used in all manner of unpleasant conversations. They know exactly what they're doing with it. That's why I call it out, each time it's used here. I also find the words "sheeplike", "sheep" and "sheeple" a bit tiresome (though not insidious) as well.

I do think Europe needs to be strong in the face of what's happening around the world but I wouldn't be a fan of the centerist Macron.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I hate to harp on about it, but I've seen and heard it used in all manner of unpleasant conversations. They know exactly what they're doing with it

The Guardian will probably virtue signal about the use of this word, but for people like myself, it’s yet another example of the kind of posturing which pisses off many on the left and feeds the right.

We need to stop this.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Macron criticising Trump suggesting NATO may no longer need America for the defense of Europe.

yes agree kick America and their bases out of Europe, they can build more nukes weapons to protect their own borders, you dont need 1000s of nukes like Russia or America, 100~200 is plenty enough to ensure that anybody that launches a nuclear attack on you will be met with MAD in response

0 ( +2 / -2 )

 I 'care what Putin wants' and don't want him to create another empire.

@cmmenerThis will never happen.

Never happen? As Russia increases the size of its military, as Russia's Eurasian Economic Union pushes on joining up with China's Belt and Road, as Russian forces march through Syria, as Russia furthers its involvements in the Middle East, Africa and South America (in Russia's efforts to control even more of the global oil market),

it IS happening. Crimea? Georgia? Moldova?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

As Russia increases the size of its military, as Russia's Eurasian Economic Union pushes on joining up with China's Belt and Road, as Russian forces march through Syria, as Russia furthers its involvements in the Middle East, Africa and South America (in Russia's efforts to control even more of the global oil market),

it IS happening. Crimea? Georgia? Moldova?

Russian military spending is not out of line with comparable countries facing comparable threats. There are many ways to measure it though.

Many countries are joining China's Belt and Road for economic reasons. It would be odd if Russia didn't. Russian forces are not "marching through Syria." They are there as the US was - except the US was uninvited and trying to topple the established government, while the Russians were invited and support the government.

Russia's involvement around the world pales next to US involvement. Russia has 21 bases, mostly in former Soviet nations. The USA has 716, all over the world. If you are speaking of economic pressure, the ratio is probably similar.

Georgia and Moldova are recently sovereign nations, so border disputes would be expected. Crimea is far too complicated to get into here.

There is really no comparison which country imposes its force upon others the most.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

There is really no comparison which country imposes its force upon others the most.

I wasn't comparing. Russia IS expanding its empire. That is NOT a defense of the US. Or China. I am opposed to all empires, regardless flag.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

One year, two months, twelve days until the end of the brain-dead Trump presidency.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The Guardian will probably virtue signal about the use of this word, but for people like myself, it’s yet another example of the kind of posturing which pisses off many on the left and feeds the right.

We need to stop this.

I can't just sit by and read the anti-Semitic muck that gets used in discourse. There has to be a line, Jim. Look at the fury when Israel is criticized for its treatment of Palestinians & yet the same people are more than happy to bandy about some very dubious tropes and canards and throw their lot in with known bigots like Orban, the AfD and various right wing Italian parties.

These European parties sadly highlight, that despite some clueless pundits, the EU is not a socialist entity. I'd rather not see empires and superstates exist but the fact is, mankind is heading towards something unspeakable and we may be powerless to stop it. Is it inherent in our nature that we seem to be destined for conflict? That wondrous moments like the fall of the Berlin Wall were just blips in an otherwise aggressive existence?

Ach, I'm spoiling the mood. Have a great weekend & hope for a brighter future.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I am opposed to all empires, regardless flag.

Well, good. Then you surely recognize that NATO has become an empire building tool for the US. Many countries have imperial ambitions, including China, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Russia. Only one of those empires is significantly smaller and less influential than it was 50 years ago.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Sorry, French President Emmanuel Macron is politically a zero entity. An irrelevance.

French President Emmanuel Macron is the anyone but Marine Le Pen vote. German Chancellor Angela Merkel slapped Marcon down within seconds of his politically silly boy protestations.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

NATO is a joke. One reason for that is France’s reluctance from the days of DeGaul to be a steadfast ally. Germany is all for the US paying for their defense while they simultaneously double deal with Russia and the Iranians.

America is an exhausted Super Power. Time for the Europeans to cut their generous social programs and pay for their own defense. Or they can just let Russia do whatever they want - it’s up to them now.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

A simple question of right and wrong, which so many cannot grasp because of the infectious neo-McCarthyism. When did everyone on the left become so Nixonian?

A great question. Thanks. 

Ach, I'm spoiling the mood.

Not at all. Many interesting points, as always.

About the word "globalism", I always thought of it as a good thing. Sharing ideas, experiences, culture with people on the other side of the world can hardly be considered bad. Perhaps not having the opportunity to do that is an issue. But not having the desire to do that can breed nationalism, which can be quite ugly.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Globalist one of most misused words.

From what I can tell it’s a catch-all term that angry people are using in place of ‘the boogeyman’. Which makes sense as we’d all just laugh at them if they said ‘boogeymen’ instead of ‘globalists’.

It kind of works. It took me a while to realize that they are all referring to different things when they use the term, and that in fact the concept of ‘globalist’ is one they can hate without having to actually deal with the real world issue at hand. If I had earlier realized they were referring to the boogeyman I could have earlier realized they didn’t actually have any clue what they were talking about. It’s why they shut up when you ask them who the globalists are and/or what the globalist agenda is.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

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