French President Emmanuel Macron came to attention recently with a long interview in which he criticized the German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. “AKK,” who is also the leader of the ruling Christian-Democratic Union (CDU) and heir-apparent to replace Angela Merkel, had written in an op-ed for Politico: “Illusions of European strategic autonomy must come to an end: Europeans will not be able to replace America’s crucial role as a security provider.”
You can watch / read the interview (with English subtitles) to get a sense of official thinking by the reigning liberal-globalist wing of French politics, if you are so inclined. There’s not much new in fact.
The interview was more revealing for me in showing some of the new players in French foreign policy and in particular Franco-German relations. The interview was published by Le Grand Continent, a magazine released by the École Normale Supérieure, one France’s Grandes Écoles top universities.
There is evidently high-level support for this para-statal publication, with a highly attractive website and authors representing a wide range of high-level intellectuals. Besides the university and numerous students, various internationalist think-tank professionals and political party staff (mostly Socialist or Macronist, it seems) are involved. The line is decidedly Macronist, with almost Spencerian ambitions of creating an Europe-puissance. Given that the publisher was founded in 2017, one wonders if people close to the president himself are involved.
The interview has been bigged up on Twitter by various Anglo journalists and elements of the German foreign policy establishment. Some of the latter praise was somewhat embarrassing.
The head of the Munich Security Conference and of a policy school in Berlin:
73 years ago, the Long Telegram ( The sources of Soviet conduct). Today: the Long Interview ( The Macron Doctrine): https://t.co/NyQaxJnBf9
— Wolfgang Ischinger (@ischinger) November 16, 2020
A prominent think-tank analyst:
Macron in this interview demonstrates again his intellectual firepower. One could call his approach geo-philosophical. https://t.co/y4xn4VN8W8
— Ulrich Speck (@ulrichspeck) November 16, 2020
This publication’s echo in Germany is an indicator of the “pro-French / EU maximalist” wing in German policy, which wants to go along with Macron’s grand designs for “European sovereignty” and “strategic autonomy.” The mainstream German establishment is wary of all this though, being aware of the fact that it will be expected to pay the bill for these schemes.
For instance, many Germans consider that Macron’s ambitions to federalize the Eurozone are but an elaborate ruse to put German taxpayers on the hook to bailout the bankrupt French banking system (“debt mutualization”) and put German economic policy under incompetent Med control.
Le Grand Continent will soon be translated into German, Italian, Spanish, and Polish. But not English, the working language of all EU institutions. The publication is decidedly punchier and has more personality and vision than your standard EU fair, precisely because it is a national and, in particular, French scheme. Anything produced by the EU must go through a series of committees of committees where anything interesting or original will be carefully weeded out one by one by any objecting member. Hence the consistently insipid and vague nature of EU production.
I chuckled when Macron said “The EU has a tremendous amount of non-thought [impensé].”
As to Macron’s general message, there’s not much to say, except a lot of stuff is going on in the world right now innit. He’s alarmed by the decline of postwar liberal international institutions and “a crisis of the universal values borne by these structures.”
What it boils down to: the postwar Western establishment, called “liberal” for lack of a better term, and its values are in decline. This power elite’s influence solidified after 1945 and became hegemonic after 1989, but now is in rapid recession.
My reading: liberal power emanated from actually fairly small, but influential obviously, nodes in North America and Western Europe. (Even Japan can barely be put in this category, it is an ally, not an active player.) In no other part of the world did the assumptions of this coalition come naturally, but only predominated because of foreign influence (imposed by force, cash, or cultural soft power). As the West declines and itself becomes less coherent because of socio-cultural disintegration, so global liberalism is declining.
China, Turkey, Russia, Latin America, etc, don’t care about all these Western liberal-globalist obsessions.
The most telling part of the interview for me is when Macron flags the problem of “unacceptable” growing inequalities within and between countries. He thinks some kind of international cooperation could get rid of these: “Just as socialism could not work in a single country, the fight against this kind of [inegalitarian] capitalism cannot take place in only one country.”
Good luck with that.
Presumably Macron is thinking of the Krugman-Piketty snake oil of equality-through-redistribution in our new open-borders and multiracial context.
People will believe anything if only they don’t have to think.
Macron by the way mentions European demographic decline and the Africanization of Europe and the globe:
Today, we have reached a world population increase of 400 to 500 million people every five years. And above all, this increase shows acute imbalances : if you take the Europe-Africa region, for one European country demographically disappearing, in the same period, one African country appears. We are witnessing a kind of acceleration in the twists of history. . . . All of this also creates a re-conception of the world, of economic capacities, of futures, and obviously also disrupts transnational relations. . . . Africa is part of our societies. We have a part of Africa in all our societies, which also lives in tune. And when I say Africa, I mean Africa and the Mediterranean region in the broadest sense.
Amid all the blabber of policymakers and journalists, these demographic realities are what matters most for the future character of Europe and humanity. These changes are creating literally unsolvable and intractable permanent problems and tensions from a liberal-egalitarian perspective. But when will this be recognized?
European politicians fiddle while their people steadily fade away year after year.
Macron concludes, contrasting the good liberal-globalists to the bad nativist-authoritarians: “Popular democratic sovereignty is a treasure.” Just not on immigration.