Europe is “on the edge of a precipice”, says France’s president. Is he right?
Today’s europe owes its existence to the United States. America fought two worldwars on European soil; American diplomacy was midwife to what became the European Union; American arms protected western Europe from Soviet invasion; and American statesmen oversaw German unification. Now, in a dramatic plea to all Europeans, France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, has warned that America is cutting Europe loose. The old continent is “on the edge of a precipice”, he warns. Unless it wakes up, “we will no longer be in control of our destiny.”
In his Elysée Palace office, Mr Macron spoke to The Economist in apocalyptic terms (see Briefing). NATO, the transatlantic alliance, is suffering from “brain-death”, he says; Europe needs to develop a military force of itsown. The eu thinks of itself as just a market, but it needs to act as a political bloc, with policies on technology, data and climate change to match. Past French presidents have argued that Europe cannot rely on America, and should look to France instead. Mr Macron is not just rehashing this view. He believes that America and Europe have shared interests and has worked tirelessly to keep good relations with President Donald Trump. But he argues that for the first time America has a president who “does not share our idea of the European project”. And even if Mr Trump is not re-elected, historical forces are pulling the old allies apart.
American priorities are changing. When President Barack Obama, who was intent on pivoting towards Asia, chose not to punish the use of chemical weapons in Syria it signalled that America was losing interest in the Middle East. Mr Trump’s recent abandonment of America’s Kurdish allies in Syria not only reinforced this, but also undermined NATO. America did not inform its allies, and Turkey, a NATO member, promptly invaded Syria. “Strategically and politically,” Mr Macron says, “we need to recognise that we have a problem.”
Asked whether he is confident that an attack on one NATO member would today be seen as an attack on all—the idea that underpins the alliance’s credibility—Mr Macron says that he does not know. He acknowledges that NATO thrives operationally, but he calls for Europe “to reassess the reality of what NATO is in the light of the commitment of the United States.”
Europe, he says, has yet to grasp the immensity of the challenge ahead. It still treats the world as if commerce and trade alone were able to ensure peace. But America, the guarantor of world trade, is becoming protectionist. Authoritarian powers are on the rise—including Russia and Turkey on Europe’s borders. While America and China spend vast sums on artificial intelligence, which they see as an essential component of their hard power, the EU devolves too much say to industry. Mr Macron warns that slow-moving, head-in-the-clouds Europe must open its eyes and prepare itself for a tougher, less forgiving world.
It is an astonishingly bleak picture for a centrist European politician and an avowed internationalist. But it is also unusually thought-through and, as far as Mr Macron is concerned, a spur to action. It is hard to overstate the scale of the change he is asking from his fellow Europeans.
Take defence. Mr Macron thinks that his new European Intervention Initiative and the eu’s Permanent Structured Co-operation, underpinned by the European Defence Fund, can integrate military operations and boost Europe’s capabilities, by implication providing a foundation for Europe’s post-NATO defence. But these building-blocks are rudimentary. America’s departure would leave vast holes in areas like air and missile defence, intelligence and surveillance, and aerial refuelling. Its military budget is twice as large as the rest of NATO’s combined. European governments will be reluctant to plug the gap, since they have other priorities. It may be easier to adapt NATO, so that it both protects Europe and is also more useful to the United States.
And then there is diplomacy. Mr Macron thinks Europe can best establish its global influence as a power that mediates between the gorillas of China and the United States. Its role will be “to stop the whole world from catching fire”, he says. A first step would be to get a grip on its own region by rebuilding relations with Russia—a task that he accepts could well take a decade.
Again, however, that ambition assumes a unity of purpose that the EU seldom achieves. Many of its members tend to shun hard power for a foreign policy focused on human rights and commerce. As Mr Macron’s Russian proposal illustrates, power politics requires you to deal with people whose actions you deplore. For him, realpolitik is necessary for European values to prevail. It is not clear his fellow European leaders would agree.
Last is industrial policy. Mr Macron wants the state to take strategic decisions over key technologies, and favours a policy to foster European champions. This tends to channel funds and contracts to politically connected incumbents. A better way to create a thriving technology ecosystem would be to encourage more competition. If Mr Macron will not embrace that, why should others?
The EU’s formula is unique: an arrangement between states, without any hegemon, that keeps the peace. But how do you get 27 countries—plus Britain, a big power now in the EU’s departure lounge—to agree to build fully functional armed forces, let alone convince Europe’s foes that they would ever be used? Mr Macron’s critics scoff that he is “drunk on power”. Some countries, including Poland and the Baltic states, would be alarmed at the idea of parting with America and pursuing detente with Russia. Others, including Germany, Italy and Spain, are too embroiled in domestic woes to entertain a grand global vision.
Plenty of times in the past, pious calls for Europe to make its weight felt in the world have turned out to be empty. This time, Mr Macron argues, must be different. He is asking his fellow leaders to imagine how Europe will thrive in a dangerous world without a cast-iron American alliance. How should they deal with Russia, with the conflict and religious fundamentalism roiling the Middle East and north Africa, and with the authoritarian challenge of China? He deserves an answer.
核心词汇: 先来认识下标题中的两个单词peril和precipice Peril /ˈperəl/ n. 危险；冒险N-VAR Perils are great dangers. 极大危险 Precipice /ˈpresəpɪs/ n. 悬崖；绝壁；险境 [Collins] 1.N-COUNT A precipice is a very steep cliff on a mountain. 悬崖; 峭壁 2.NCOUNT If you say that someone is on the edge of a precipice, you mean that they are in a dangerous situation in which they are extremely close to disaster or failure. 险境; 危局 Midwife /ˈmɪdwaɪf/ n. 助产士；促成因素Rehash /ˈriːhæʃ/ v. 缺乏创意地改写（或改编）；事后反复回想（或讨论）n. 重复使用[Collins] 1. NCOUNT If you describe something as a rehash, you are criticizing it because it repeats old ideas, facts, or themes, though some things have been changed to make it appear new. 重复; 老调重弹 2. VT If you say that someone rehashes old ideas, facts, or accusations, you disapprove of the fact that they present them in a slightly different way so that they seem new or original. 只作轻微改动; 换汤不换药 underpin /ˌʌndərˈpɪn/ vt. 巩固；支持；从下面支撑；加强…的基础 [Collins] VT If one thing underpins another, it helps the other thing to continue or succeed by supporting and strengthening it. 支撑; 加固 in the light of 根据，按照；当作；由于，鉴于;考虑到 1、根据《牛津高阶英汉双解词典》，in the light of 是英式用法，in light of 是美式用法。 2、两者的意思都是：鉴于, 由于, 按照； 比照； 依； 本着Spur /spɜːr/n. 马刺；鞭策；山嘴；（公路或铁路的）支线；骨刺v. 用踢马刺驱马前进；激励；促进；紧贴主干剪短（副梢）延伸科普：NBA马刺为什么要叫马刺 是什么意思？？圣安东尼奥马刺队是一支所属于美国德克萨斯州圣安东尼奥市的职业篮球队，属于美国国家篮球协会（NBA），于1976年加入NBA联盟，是美国男篮职业联赛（NBA）西部联盟西南赛区的一部分。1973年，球队从达拉斯搬到圣安东尼奥，公开投票结果确定新队名为极具德州特色的“马刺（Spurs）”。 马刺是指一种较短的尖状物或者带刺的轮，连在骑马者的靴后根上，用来刺激马快跑。 马刺是中世纪在欧洲和中亚出现的，骑士在骑马时用皮带系在脚踝上，金属制尖端有小尖刺。英文名：San Antonio Spursspur的意思是：踢马刺，靴刺靴策，刺激，激励，鼓舞(斗鸡的)距铁，骨距 Rudimentary /ˌruːdɪˈmentri/ adj. 基本的；初步的；退化的；残遗的；未发展的[Collins]1. ADJ Rudimentary things are very basic or simple and are therefore unsatisfactory. 简陋的2. ADJ Rudimentary knowledge includes only the simplest and most basic facts. 最基本的 Mediate /ˈmiːdieɪt/ vi. 调解；斡旋；居中 vt. 调停；传达[Collins]V-T/V-I If someone mediates between two groups of people, or mediates an agreement between them, they try to settle an argument between them by talking to both groups and trying to find things that they can both agree to. 调解 Scoff /skɑːf/v. 嘲笑，嘲弄；贪婪地吃，狼吞虎咽n. 嘲笑，嘲笑的话；笑料，笑柄；食物，口粮[Collins] V-I If you scoff at something, you speak about it in a way that shows you think it is ridiculous or inadequate. 嘲笑 Embroiled /im'brɔild/ adj. 卷入的；纠缠不清的v. 卷入（embroil的过去式和过去分词）；牵连[Collins] ADJ If you become embroiled in a fight or argument, you become deeply involved in it. 使卷入的 Authoritarian /əˌθɔːrəˈteriən/ adj. 独裁主义的；权力主义的n. 权力主义者；独裁主义者
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