CITIZENS of France. To arms! Man the ramparts. The Americans are coming. They shall not pass!
Le Trump’s threat to France’s splendid wines and Roquefort cheese are the gravest menace France has faced since the Germans invaded this fair land in 1914. Burgundy wines and France’s 300 fromages form the very soul of la Belle France.
He wants revenge because France – which taxes nearly everything – seeks to tax US IT firms like Google and Amazon. Trump considers this a personal affront. Besides, he dislikes wine and lives on desiccated burgers made with petrochemical cheese, washed down by acidic Diet Cokes.
On top of this outrage comes the squabble over Nato. Trump used to scoff at the Alliance, saying it was “obsolete” as well as under-armed and short of money. The US president and his backers dislike France and all it stands for.
Even more important, Trump and his supporters want to keep Europe under Washington’s thumb. Nato is the instrument of US domination over Europe. Trump fails to understand that the Nato members are supposed to devote up to 2% of their budgets to building their own military, not to paying Washington for protection.
Most European nations have sharply reduced their military budgets. In spite of warlike talk from some Nato leaders, most Europeans, aside from the Poles and Baltic states, see no threat from Russia. Modern Russia’s armed forces have shrunken. While impressive on paper, they must defend a vast territory from Poland to the Bering Strait. The drop in oil prices has cut its military budgets.
Unlike 1980, Europeans have little fear that 40,000 Soviet tanks are about to crush all before them. The most important European power, Germany, has grown militarily feeble. Its taxpayers, like most Europeans, see no need to spend billions of hard-earned euros against a non-existent threat. The Poles are arming against Russia, and the Greeks against Turkey, but local squabbles should not be Nato’s primary concern.
France’s President Emmanuel Macron called Nato brain dead. What Macron meant was that the alliance has no coherent strategy or world view. The US wants to use Nato as a Europe-based police force to support imperial operations in the Middle East, Africa and China. Most Europeans say that these far-flung regions have nothing to do with European security and want no part of a conflict with China. It was bad enough the US forced Nato to get militarily involved in Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Iraq. Trump wants his European Foreign Legion; Europeans say no.
Aside from France, which is deeply involved in a nasty, neo-colonial misadventure in West Africa, most Europeans have no interest in such “little wars”. Their military industrial complexes do not drive government policies, as in the United States. Though, an interesting exception is Britain. It was just revealed that commandos of Britain’s Special Boat Service are actively involved in Yemen’s bloody civil war to assist Saudi-backed forces.
As Macron has been rightly saying, the European Union, a greater economic power than the United States, should have its own unified military forces. It’s absurd that the European Union has neither armed forces nor centralised command. The United States is happy to fulfil this role because it preserves American domination of Europe that dates back to the 1940’s and assures a large market for US arms makers.
And, yes, many Europeans don’t want to pay the price for real military power. Who cares about squalid little wars in the Middle East, Africa and West Asia? There’s no way Europe will get into a military confrontation with China over two-by-nothing islets no one has ever even heard of.
Eric S. Margolis is a syndicated columnist. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org