As increasingly unpopular French President Emmanuel Macron's calls for creating a "Real European Army" have been met with ridicule from President Trump, who has insisted that Macron should first try meeting France's NATO commitments...
President Macron of France has just suggested that Europe build its own military in order to protect itself from the U.S., China and Russia. Very insulting, but perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO, which the U.S. subsidizes greatly!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 9, 2018
...Another senior French official upped the aggressive rhetoric in an interview published on Monday, saying that Europe shouldn’t be afraid of using its power to become "a peaceful empire" to help it stand up to China and the US. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire made the comments in an interview with Germay's Handelsblatt, which noted that Germany remains largely opposed to such a Continent-wide military alliance.
To be sure, Le Maire insisted that "I am using this phrase because, in tomorrow’s world, it’s going to be all about power...technological power, economic, financial, monetary, cultural power - all will be decisive. Europe cannot be shy any longer about using its power."
Le Maire also hinted that there will be "decisions made" about a Continent-wide fighting force during an upcoming EU summit.
"We have talked about it for a long time. Now it’s time for decisions. And there will be decisions made on December 4, at the next meeting of the economy and finance ministers. I cannot imagine anything else."
Because the people of Europe have had enough of the "babble from Brussels."
"Everybody knows it takes guts to stand in the way of Donald Trump’s administration," Le Maire said. "The people of Europe have had enough of the babble from Brussels. They want to see action."
In one recent example of European weakness, cited by Le Maire as justification for his imperial ambitions, Europe failed to stop the US from reimposing sanctions on Iran, and has instead opted for a passive alternative: The creation of a Special Purpose Vehicle to circumvent SWIFT and allow European companies to trade with Iran. While the workaround will suffice - for now - the broader problem is that Europe can't allow the US to decide with whom it can and cannot trade.
Of course, it's difficult to talk about the creation of a French empire without thinking about Napoleon, the 18th century tyrant who seized power and fought a bloody continent-wide war to spread his "revolutionary principles" across Europe.
Given the timing of the interview, we wonder if Le Maire was aware that Sunday was the 100th anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War I, a horrific, bloody conflict that left some 16 million soldiers dead and ripped apart the continent. If nothing else, this anniversary certainly lent his remarks a hint of irony.