US: From the scene of Biden laying his hand on his shoulder after a tumultuous relationship with Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron’s gesture of greeting tells the full story of how the relationship between the US administration and EU leaders has changed.
During the NATO summit in May 2017, a picture of the French President shaking hands with Donald Trump and staring at his face was revealed.
Macron later said that ‘he was not with innocence. I will not let anything go unnoticed in my bilateral talks.
When President Joe Biden went on his first visit four years later during the G7 summit in Cornwall, Macron once again turned the moment towards himself. As the camera turned towards him, he walked towards the beach with his hand on Biden’s shoulder, and Biden also placed his hand on his shoulder.
This body language clearly showed that both the sides are once again putting their arms in arms.
But now in Europe from London to Berlin, Afghanistan has mixed bitterness in the sweetness of Joe Biden’s honeymoon period. It is not that the only reason for this bitterness is to get out of Afghanistan, but it is also the lack of coordination with America’s own allies.
NATO has armies of 36 countries and three quarters are non-US troops, but the US-led the mission when leaving Afghanistan, which has created a sense of lack of trust in Europe.
It was the first time since the Second World War that Germany had engaged in a major combat mission, and its ending has disappointed it. Conservative candidate for chancellor Armin Lachett in Germany has said ahead of the elections that America’s exit from Afghanistan is “the biggest defeat NATO has experienced since its founding.”
Moreover, the President of the Czech Republic, Milos Zeman, labeled it ‘cowardice’. He said that ‘the US has lost its reputation as a global leader.’
Former Swedish prime minister Karl Bilts said, “When Joe Biden came into administration, the expectations were high, perhaps too high. It was an unrealistic situation.”
He said, “Our relationship was supposed to be in the golden age according to their ‘America is Back’ slogan. But this did not happen, and it has changed in a very short time. There is no discussion about leaving (from Afghanistan). In a way, it has left a stain.”
A poll by the PU Research Center last year found that during Donald Trump’s tenure, 10 percent of Germans believed that they would do the right things in global affairs, but the number of such Germans had reached 79 percent about Joe Biden. A similar increase was seen in France as well.
But Natalie Luejo, France’s minister of Europe until 2019, says, “Many EU people thought they should wait until Trump left and that we would return to the ‘old normal’ relationship. But the ‘old normal’ relationship is no longer alive. left. I hope it’s time for us to wake up.”
The way America came out of Afghanistan and Joe Biden commented that he would no longer send American troops to ‘rebuild other countries’, reminded European leaders of Donald Trump’s ‘America First policy.
But the biggest disappointment is the lack of talks with the European Union countries by the US because they wanted them to be consulted on leaving Afghanistan. When the number of NATO troops stationed in Afghanistan was declining, three quarters of them were non-US soldiers.
However, it is too early to say how much damage will be done to the all-round relief given to him by the change of US administration.
Natalie Tocchi, an adviser to EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and visiting professor at Harvard, said: “During the Trump administration there was less conflict over specific foreign policy decisions, and we didn’t suddenly share the same values.”
“The real blow of Trumpism was not just ‘America First’, but he always looked forward to Xi Jinping and Putin. When we were with him, we never questioned Afghanistan. Now it has changed that in the world like America. What is coming out of other places is growing concern in Europe, it may be a commitment to preserve American values, but what about the rest of the world?”
In fact, some see it as a reflection of the long-standing tendency of the US to go it alone. Is there anything new in this? “It’s always been Europe’s complaint about America, but now Americans are deciding to leave without advice,” says Tochi.
In Europe, this sentiment is again and always has been, and now ‘strategic autonomy’ has again become a matter of debate. Which has been one of the objectives of the foreign policy of the European Union. In particular, this issue has been raised by France, which often seeks a more equal geopolitical balance with the US.
“Some countries like Britain and Germany always think that America can be trusted for security,” says former French minister Luzzo. “That we should rethink how NATO works. We shouldn’t always be in a position to deny.”