Macron’s grim view of world affairs - GulfToday

Macron’s grim view of world affairs


Emmanuel Macron. File

French President Emmanuel Macron has announced an increase in defence spending to 413 billion euros ($447 billion) for 2024-30 compared to 295 billion euros ($320 billion) between 2019-2, arguing that the “peace dividend” of the post-Cold War era has ended, and there are high-intensity conflicts ahead, including the Russia-Ukraine war. France has also been involved in the conflicts in West African countries like Male, part of its Francophone sphere of influence.

Macron has hinted that France faces security challenges in the Asia-Pacific region as well. If Russia poses the big threat to peace in Europe, it Macron’s worldview China is a security challenge in the Asia-Pacific though he does not mention China. Macron had adopted a nuanced stance towards Russia in the war in Ukraine and he has been criticised especially by Ukraine for not taking the aggressive stance towards Russia that the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union had adopted. But Macron held himself back, and he argued that future peace talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin would not be possible if Putin is castigated as a “war criminal”.

The defence spending plans that he has unveiled shows that he is deeply aware of the long-term threat posed by nuclear-power Russia. And he is also conscious of the fact that France is the lone nuclear power, in terms of nuclear weapons, on the European continent, and if there is to be a deterrence to the Russian threat of a nuclear war, then France is the only European state that can stand in the way. It is now a well-known nuclear weapon doctrine that deterrence is a successful counter-strategy, and it has worked very well during the Cold War.

Also, Europe need not then depend on either the United States or the United Kingdom to defend itself as was the case during the Second World War. Macron was very clear on the nuclear deterrence issue. He said, “Nuclear deterrence is an element that makes France different from other countries in Europe. We see anew, in analysing the war in Ukraine, its vital importance.”

What is of importance in Macron’s worldview is that he sees 21st century as one of potential conflicts. And he is again clear and emphatic of what he foresees. He said, “As war is changing France has and will have armies ready for the perils of the century. We need to be one war ahead.” There is the ominous implication that the war in Ukraine is just the beginning of an era of armed conflict in Europe and France is gearing up to face the dangers of war in the future. That is indeed a grim view of the future at a time when the rest of the world is of the view that the challenge of the 21st century is that of climate change, and the need for the world to face this catastrophic change. Macron seems to look at the world as a place of confrontation between nation-states as it was at the beginning of the 20th century, which had resulted in the First and Second World Wars.

Is Macron’s view shaped by the past experience of Europe of the last few centuries, and is he narrowly focused on Europe without being aware that Europe is becoming the marginal player in world affairs, and that the focus is shifting away from Europe and the West towards Asia and Africa, and that the Ukrainian war could remain a local flare-up despite the fact that Russia and Ukraine are important sources of the export of wheat and fertilisers, and Europe is dependent on Russian oil and gas? The choices imposed by the challenge of climate change reduce the strategic importance of Europe and its internal conflicts. Perhaps, Macron should reconsider that the future of Europe and the world lies beyond ‘intensified conflicts’ or wars.

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