Despite his geopolitical impotence and reliable vassalage, the American fury at Macron’s comments is instructive.
French President Emmanuel Macron has got the Americans in a flap with his comments advocating greater European strategic autonomy and for the old continent to avoid becoming embroiled in a U.S.-China confrontation over Taiwan.
Macron made his remarks while traveling back from China where he appeared to have been well received by President Xi Jinping. The trip reportedly garnered several lucrative trade deals for French businesses at a time when Élysée Palace is assailed with nationwide public protests and strikes over economic woes.
The American chagrin over Macron’s musings about European strategic autonomy is revealing in at least two ways.
The New York Times sniffily accused Macron of playing the “Gaullist card” while the Wall Street Journal censured the French leader for “blundering on Taiwan”, adding, “He weakens deterrence against Chinese aggression and undermines U.S. support for Europe”.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio was palpably miffed and demanded that Macron should clarify “quickly” whether he was speaking for Europe as a whole or for France alone. In a huff, Rubio said, “You guys [European leaders] handle Ukraine” because the U.S. would henceforth focus its attention on “China’s threats”.
You have to laugh at the misplaced sense of American chivalry. This is the usual American trope of believing that they are once again salvaging Europe from conflict, as in the First and Second World Wars. Uncle Sam, as Rubio suggests, is going to abandon Europe to its bloody squabbling while getting on with “dealing” with purported “Chinese aggression”.
The reality is diametrically opposite. Europe is embroiled in the worst war since the Second World War precisely because its supine leaders are slavishly following Washington’s agenda of waging a proxy against Russia and destroying the strategic Russian-European energy trade. U.S.-led NATO expansionism over decades – under the guise of “protecting Europe – has produced this dangerous juncture. The war in Ukraine is driven by Washington’s need to shore up its unwieldy hegemonic ambitions. Confronting Russia and China are an integral part of Washington’s imperial game, as is the American need to subordinate Europe as a colony of vassals.
It’s an audacious affectation for American politicians and media to project that they are doing Europe some kind of noble favor over Ukraine and saving the European damsels from the “barbarian Russians”. It’s so corny and false, yet thanks to Western media brainwashing the old trope still works.
What the furore over Macron’s comments shows is just how under the American thumb (make that heel) the European leaders are. For a European president to aver that his country and other members of the European Union should make their interests a priority in pursuing independent relations with China and in particular to avoid a conflict over Taiwan is, one would think, a rather mundane matter of common sense, reason and normal prerogative. That the American political class has reacted in such a furious way shows, ironically, just how abjectly subordinate the Europeans really are. Macron speaks out in a rare moment of clarity and the American backlash is knee-jerk and nasty… because how dare those European vassals get out of line!
More importantly, the American anger may be overbearing and bullish but it nonetheless reveals how fragile the sense of insecurity in Washington is.
The American establishment is increasingly sensing that there is a chronic systemic crisis in U.S. global power. The presumed unipolar American order is waning and a multipolar world is ineluctably emerging. The once-mighty U.S. dollar is no longer affording the security it once did. China, Russia, and the Global South are pushing more and more strongly for a multipolar order that will make the American dollar and its unique, arbitrary privileges redundant. When that fully happens, the debt-strapped U.S. capitalist economy and its erstwhile global dominance will crash like so many empires before it.
This is why Washington is so apoplectic about Macron’s “insolent” outburst. American power relies on subservience and adherence to its diktat. Mutterings by vassals of independence must be stamped out ruthlessly so that the idea does not get around or maybe even be adopted.
Emmanuel Macron is no Charles De Gaulle though. De Gaulle did show genuine French independence during the early Cold War decades by taking France temporarily out of the NATO military alliance. De Gaulle’s independence resulted in assassination plots that had an uncanny similarity to the one that eventually murdered John F Kennedy who had also challenged the U.S. military-industrial complex and the imperial state.
Nearly four years ago, Macron labeled the NATO bloc “brain dead”. His comments then sparked a similar controversy to the one he has now elicited in regard to his call for European independent relations with China.
Despite his “brain dead” disparagement of NATO, Macron did absolutely nothing about exerting European independence. Like the other EU so-called leaders, Macron has pathetically followed Washington’s warpath against Russia in Ukraine. Macron has fueled that war with French weapons in complete obeisance to Washington’s geopolitical needs.
So, all the fuss over Macron’s latest aspirations about strategic autonomy is much ado about nothing. Macron is a marionette figure who likes to bluster but who is a pale imitation of De Gaulle. He is not going to do anything of substance to undermine American hegemonic ambitions. On his flight home from China, he was perhaps overcome by a sense of (futile) grand desire in the aftermath of Chinese state splendor.
Nevertheless, despite his geopolitical impotence and reliable vassalage, the American fury at Macron’s comments is instructive. That’s the real story. The mere whiff of dissent is enough to send Washington into a near-panic because it knows how fragile its imperial power has become.
Macron is irrelevant but the torrid American reaction is notable.