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The Day After NATO

French President Emmanuel Macron has drawn criticism for describing NATO as brain dead and pursuing a rapprochement with Russian President Vladimir Putin. But now that a wayward America could abandon the continent at any moment, Macron's argument for European defense autonomy is difficult to refute.

BERLIN – Despite having been written off numerous times, NATO survives. But another fox has entered the hen house, and it has met with the typical European response to danger: furious cackling and an explosion of feathers.

The fox in question is French President Emmanuel Macron, who recently described NATO as experiencing a kind of “brain death.” One need not approve of that choice of words – or of Macron’s new passion for dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin (I, for one, do not) – to recognize the thrust of his argument. A profound change in US strategic priorities under President Donald Trump demands that Europeans revisit long-held assumptions about their collective defense.

This is not the first time that NATO has seemed to be on its last legs. Many had arrived at the same conclusion before 2014, when the alliance had little to focus on beyond the mission in Afghanistan. When Russia annexed Crimea and brought war to Eastern Ukraine, it breathed new life into NATO.

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