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Emmanuel Macron’s Nato swipe makes London summit ‘make or break’ moment for alliance

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Daily Express :: World Feed

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It follows an interview in which the French President cast doubt over whether the US would honour its Article 5 commitment – the mutual defence clause that underpins Nato – as he made the case for a European defence force. While Angela Merkel dismissed his claims as “drastic”, Germany then announced it would delay a pledge it made to spend 2pc of GDP by seven years to 2031. This is likely to anger US President Donald Trump, who has been calling for European Nato members to “pay their dues”.

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In the meantime, the alliance of 29 members – which include Turkey – is still bitterly divided over the military operation by President Erdogan to invade Northern Syria and depose Kurdish forces which had helped beat Islamic State jihadis.

“For France, a nuclear power and a member of Nato, to suggest Article 5 might not be the guarantee its supposed to be is does a lot of damage to Nato. Once Nato’s credibility is undermined, forget about how many tanks or aircraft you have – it’s game over,” said Fabrice Pothier, who served as Nato’s director of policy and planning under two secretary generals until 2014.

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“It would have been much more constructive if Macron said he was willing to look at how France’s nuclear weapons could be used to protect the rest of Europe – that Europe could rely France’s deterrence. But, of course, he didn’t. France has its own notion about when and where their nuclear weapons will be used.

“How can you criticise Nato without putting alternatives into play?”

Macron, said Pothier, was in “disruptive mode” as he continued to engineer himself as the centre of European defence and foreign policy making.

But claims that Europe was able to defend itself itself without US or British support were “very short of the mark”.

Germany this week announced it will be spending only 1.5 per cent of GDP on defence by 2024, despite signing a pledge at the 2014 summit to reach the 2 per cent Nato benchmark “within ten years”.

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This will require an extra £30-40bn investment – the size of France’s entire defence budget.

If every European Nato member met its obligation, it would pump another £100bn into European defence spending. But this is still not happening.

“Without the US and Britain, European defence can just about deal with  small conflicts. It will take at least 15 years, according to some projections, before it can do any heavy lifting – and, even then, it will be a paper tiger without nuclear deterrence.

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“You can’t call on Europeans to have a collective and claim to lead it without being willing to share your assets. But this is what he is doing.

“He is undermining Nato without presenting a Plan B.”

Pothier said overtures between Macron and Russian premier Vladimir Putin were aimed at “defusing” the Russian threat, thereby making the idea of even an European defence force more palatable.

“This is an old trick. But Putin hasn’t changed Russia’s posture or its behaviour at all to address the problems we have with him.

“It’s a bit premature to say we don’t need nukes because Russia isn’t a threat.”

As Germany commemorated the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, no mention was made of the roles played by successive US presidents such as John F Kennedy or Ronald Reagan or even Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the pressure they applied to the Soviet machine.

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Instead, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier praised “the will to freedom of the Poles and Hungarians, the Czechs and Slovaks”

And it was left for Nato to commemorate the role it played in protecting Europe from the USSR during the Cold War, during a ceremony on Friday.

“It’s right that the falling of the Berlin Wall was precipitated by the peoples of Eastern Europe, but the ground had been laid in the West,” said Pothier.

“Europe has always had a blind spot when it comes to Nato’s role. I remember when the EU was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 2012 and many were asking – doesn’t Nato deserve any recognition for that peace?”

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It leaves heads of state looking more divided than ever as they gather next month for the London

Last week the House of Lords International Relations and Defence Committee urged summit organisers to officially place Turkey on the agenda, with a source saying: “While Turkey is a valued ally, its actions are not without consequence.”

Pothier added:”The hope was that all attention would be on Nato’s  discussion of the China threat for the first time. But the agenda has been thrown out the window.

“Already there was the a Turkey issue. Now Macron will be in the spotlight.

“There hasn’t been a time where Nato makers were more divided than during the first Gulf War. Even then, unlike now, it wasn’t about Nato itself but  disagreeing on Iraq.

“Now Nato itself is in the eye of the hurricane. This will be the Nato summit with the biggest political questions – historically, its biggest make or break moment.”

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Emmanuel Macron’s Nato swipe makes London summit ‘make or break’ moment for alliance

It follows an interview in which the French President cast doubt over whether the US would honour its Article 5 commitment – the mutual defence clause that underpins Nato – as he made the case for a European defence force.

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It follows an interview in which the French President cast doubt over whether the US would honour its Article 5 commitment – the mutual defence clause that underpins Nato – as he made the case for a European defence force. While Angela Merkel dismissed his claims as “drastic”, Germany then announced it would delay a pledge it made to spend 2pc of GDP by seven years to 2031.

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