2021-09-22 23:03:48 Biden Speaks With Macron, First Time Since Diplomatic Feud
Biden Speaks With Macron, First Time Since Diplomatic Feud
The statement made vague references to common European defense projects, but these did not appear to be novel; the wording appeared to be largely drawn from previous NATO statements.
It did, however, state that a “more capable European defense” should be “complementary” to NATO, an interesting choice of words given that the French believe that a united Europe must build its own defenses. Within NATO, the US has tended to encourage increased European defense spending.
The US and France have frequently clashed over the years, most recently in 2003 over the start of the Iraq War, which France opposed, and in 2013 over President Barack Obama’s last-minute decision not to bomb Syria, when French fighter jets were “hours” away from military strikes, as French President François Hollande put it.
The clashes, which reflected France’s tenacity in refusing to be seen as subservient to a far greater power, have subsided over time. But never before had France withdrawn its ambassador, and never before has NATO’s raison d’être appeared more shaky, as the US focuses on Asia and European countries question America’s commitment to their defense.
If French-American relations appeared to be improving, there was no sign of any improvement in France’s strained relations with the United Kingdom. Mr. Macron should “prenez un grip,” which is bad French for “get a grip,” according to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is visiting the United States. Mr. Johnson said, “donnez-moi un break” — “give me a break” — in defending the agreement that had enraged the French president.
Mr. Macron did not appear to find this amusing.
The French foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, has irritated the British government by claiming that the country’s “permanent opportunism” was well known to France and that the British were “the fifth wheel of the carriage” in the submarine deal. Brexit has not improved relations between the two countries.
Officials in the United States were scrambling for special projects to announce in order to reaffirm their relationship with France, including new Indo-Pacific initiatives. However, some senior officials expressed concern that whatever they put together would appear to be a transparent, face-saving effort, especially in comparison to the scope of the partnership between Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom.