On global security, deep divergence of appreciation between the United States and Europe

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the Munich conference on February 15.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the Munich conference on February 15. POOL / REUTERS

Not a word was missing from the speeches made on Saturday February 15 by the two highest US officials who came to defend Washington positions at the Munich security conference, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and his defense colleague, Mark Esper: "Trump". After the experience, a year ago in the same gallery, of Vice-President Michael Pence, who had been greeted by an icy silence by repeatedly invoking the American President, MM. Pompeo and Esper, for their part, preferred to avoid mentioning his name, even once.

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In other words, the magnitude of the transatlantic fault, again gaping during the three days of this conference which, each year for half a century, brings together in the Bavarian capital the elites of the world of defense and diplomacy. Faced with Europeans increasingly critical for some, confused for others, before the directions and methods of American diplomacy, Mike Pompeo resumed the triumphant overtones of the Cold War: "The West is winning" ("The West is victorious"), he insisted, in an attempt to counter the idea chosen by the organizers themselves as the theme of the conference, the "Disappearance of the West" ("Westlessness").


"The death of the Atlantic Alliance has been grossly exaggerated", continued the head of the American diplomacy, on the defensive: “Do not be fooled by those who claim otherwise. " The Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, who preceded him at the podium, defended the same line, in his own way: "We sometimes stumble, but we haven't lost our way", he assured. In November 2019, Emmanuel Macron had sparked controversy by asserting, in The Economist, that NATO was in "Brain dead state".

If the defunct Soviet Union was the glue of the West, it is against China and its ambitions "Imperial" that US officials are now trying to rebuild Western unity, which has been undermined in particular by differences over how to handle the challenge of the Iranian regime. The Defense Secretary devoted the entire intervention to Munich to the threat, stressing that "The People's Republic of China is the Pentagon's number one concern." "I continue to insist with my European friends: that should be their concern too", he added.


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