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Europe faces "the brain death of NATO," Macron says

Macron told the Economist in an article on Thursday that Europe can no longer rely on the United States to protect NATO allies.

His blunt comments come after the Trump administration withdrew US forces from Northern Syria last month, in a move that has alarmed European NATO members. Syrian Kurds opened for Turkish offensive in the region.

Macron is a vocal supporter of the Kurds, and the sudden change in US policy complicates relations with his NATO member Turkey.

"You have partners together in the same part of the world and you have no coordination of strategic decision making between the United States and their NATO allies," Macron said.

"No coordination among members"

NATO is a collective defense alliance that emerged during the Cold War, and under its charter, an attack on a member triggers a response from the alliance.

Macron told the Economist that the union "only works if the guarantor of last resort functions as such. I would argue that we need to re-evaluate the reality of what NATO is in light of the US commitment. "

He added that the US is" showing signs of turning its back on us. "

The French president, who is a vocal supporter of the European Union, said Trump" does not share our perception of the European project. "

This threat coincides with the rise of China, the authoritarian turn of regimes in Russia and Turkey and Europe weakens from within Brexit and political instability, he added.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg later distanced himself from Macron's comments "Any attempt to distance Europe from North America risks weakening the union ̵

1; the transatlantic link – but also dividing Europe," he said when asked to respond. "That is why we must stand together.

" I welcome European unity. I welcome the efforts of y strengthening European defense. But European unity cannot replace transatlantic unity. "

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also disagreed with Macron." The French president found a rather drastic word to express his opinion. within NATO. I do not think that such a deliberative solution is appropriate, "she said.

70-year relationship

Macron's comments come at a delicate moment in NATO's long history.

Next month, members will meet at a summit in London to mark the 70th anniversary of the alliance. And while several US presidents have encouraged US spending on the alliance over the years – including Barack Obama and George W. Bush – none have been as vocal as Trump.
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Ever since his election campaign in 2016, Trump has labeled the alliance "obsolete." He has also been constantly complaining about the amount NATO members have spend defense throughout his presidency.
"It costs us too much money and frankly they have to invest more money … we pay disproportionately," Trump said at the CNN Hall event in March 2016.

Trump's powerlessness also looks like it is rooted in a more fundamental hostility to the concept of collective and multilateral cooperation that united the community of democracies led after World War II.

In fact, Trump has data on the withdrawal of multilateral agreements, such as the Paris Climate Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and he also opposes the World Trade Organization.

Trump and his own commitment to NATO were also marred by his cozy relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. One big fear is that Trump might hint publicly that the US will not protect alliance members who are not reaching their spending targets – a move that will destroy the collective defense idea that is central to NATO identity and will undoubtedly pleased Moscow.

CNN's Simon Cullen, Stephen Collinson and Marlon Tavernier contributed to this report.

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