Commentary on Political Economy

Sunday 9 April 2023



Macron Blunders on Taiwan—and Ukraine

He weakens deterrence against Chinese aggression and undermines U.S. support for Europe.

French President Emmanuel Macron and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, April 6.PHOTO: XIE HUANCHI/ZUMA PRESS

Emmanuel Macron fancies himself a Charles de Gaulle for the 21st century, which includes distancing Europe from the U.S. But the French President picked a terrible moment this weekend for a Gaullist afflatus following his meeting with Chinese Communist Party chief Xi Jinping.

“The paradox would be that, overcome with panic, we believe we are just America’s followers,” Mr. Macron said in an interview with a reporter from Politico and two French journalists. “The question Europeans need to answer . . . is it in our interest to accelerate [a crisis] on Taiwan? No. The worse thing would be to think that we Europeans must become followers on this topic and take our cue from the U.S. agenda and a Chinese overreaction.”

No one wants a crisis over Taiwan, much less to accelerate one, but preventing one requires a credible deterrent. Mr. Macron seemed to rule out European help with that when he told the journalists that “Europeans cannot resolve the crisis in Ukraine; how can we credibly say on Taiwan, ‘watch out, if you do something wrong we will be there’? If you really want to increase tensions that’s the way to do it.”

If Mr. Macron wants to reduce American public support for the war against Russia, he couldn’t have said it better. Without U.S. weapons and intelligence, Russia would long ago have rolled over Ukraine and perhaps one or more NATO border countries. Mr. Macron says he wants to make Europe less dependent on U.S. weapons and energy, which is fine. But then how about spending the money and making the policy changes to do it?


Morning Editorial Report

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Mr. Macron wants the U.S. to ride to Europe’s rescue against Russian aggression but apparently take a vow of neutrality against Chinese aggression in the Pacific. Thanks a lot, mate. His unhelpful comments will undermine U.S. and Japanese deterrence against China in the Western Pacific while encouraging U.S. politicians who want to reduce U.S. commitments in Europe to better resist China.

If President Biden is awake, he ought to call Mr. Macron and ask if he’s trying to re-elect Donald Trump.

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