On a recent state visit to Beijing, French president Emmanuel Macron declared that his country would not feel obligated to support the United States in the event of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. “The worse thing would be to think that we Europeans must become followers on this topic and take our cue from the U.S. agenda and a Chinese overreaction,” Macron said.
These calculated remarks reveal a selfish and cynical perspective. Macron expects America to shoulder the lion’s share of the burden for the war in Ukraine, yet feels France has no obligation to support the United States in the event of war in the Pacific. So, to borrow Macron’s phrase from his remarks at the White House last December, we must be “brothers in arms” on Ukraine, but America must go it alone with China.
Macron’s statement should spark Washington to review the United States’ status as the lead donor to the Ukrainian cause. Congress should request that the Biden administration provide a full accounting of what France and other European partners have contributed to Ukraine over the last fourteen months, both individually and as members of the European Union. This request should also require a breakdown of the nature of that support. The House of Representatives should also make clear that it won’t consider any future requests for additional funding for Ukraine until it has received this accounting.
President Joe Biden has framed the war in Ukraine—most notably in his February speech in Warsaw—as an existential global struggle for democracy undertaken in conjunction with European allies. Macron’s comments expose this justification as disingenuous. The existence of Taiwan’s flourishing democracy, just 100 miles off China’s shores, disproves the PRC’s oft-repeated lie that the Chinese people do not want democracy as it is foreign to their cultural heritage. It is hard to imagine a more direct threat to freedom than a PRC invasion of a successful Chinese democracy. Yet, in the case of Taiwan, Macron finds no need to lend a hand in the struggle for democracy, nor any obligation to help those American brothers in arms who liberated his country in World War II.
Macron’s comments were so poorly received that even Chancellor Olaf Scholtz of Germany hurried to distance himself from them. Scholtz indicated that, in the event of a conflict, Berlin would not let either Taiwan or the United States down. He placed the burden on China not to escalate tensions around the island.
But all our European allies should be on notice that the days of the United States bearing a disproportionate burden for Ukraine while also being expected to go alone against China over Taiwan are running out, and that more will be required of them than “moral support.” While many partners in what Donald Rumsfeld once called “New Europe” are stepping up to the plate and contributing more than their fair share, this audit would provide clarity as to what France and Germany—the European Union’s two largest economies—are and are not contributing to the defense of democracy on their own continent.
Recent intelligence leaks disclosed, among other state secrets, that the Defense Department assesses that Ukraine is running short of a range of supplies. This suggests that Biden’s oft-repeated strategy for Ukraine—“as much as it takes for as long as it takes”—is failing. In addition, these documents have revealed a contingent of Special Forces Operators stationed at the U.S. embassy in Kiev, despite frequent administration assurances that there will be no U.S. boots on the ground in Ukraine. As well as an accounting of the contributions our European partners are making, Congress must demand clarification of what Biden’s strategy on Ukraine actually is, that the administration provide a realistic assessment of what it will take to make it successful, and how that investment might impact our ability to counter China.
The bottom line on Ukraine is that, given the multi-valiant threats the United States faces around the globe, America cannot care more about European security than the Europeans do, especially if continental leaders such as Emmanuel Macron openly declare their intent to abandon America when the United States might need them the most.
America needs allies who understand the unique pressures the United States faces and can see the larger picture beyond what is happening in their own backyards. And if that is too much to ask, those same allies can start taking the lead in a war that is, after all, a far more direct threat to them than it is to America.
This piece originally appeared in The National Interest https://nationalinterest.org/feature/if-america-must-go-it-alone-china-congress-must-demand-reassessment-ukraine-206419