In response, France wants “European strategic autonomy” and “European sovereignty,” pet phrases of Mr. Macron, to become a reality.
The case for a united Europe to chart its own course — after the submarine fiasco, after the Afghan mayhem, after President Donald J. Trump’s dismissiveness of Europe, after Brexit and in light of clear trans-Atlantic differences on China — could scarcely be stronger. For Mr. Le Drian, echoing Mr. Macron, it’s the only way for Europe to “remain part of history.”
The problem is that the European Union is disunited. The affront to France has on the whole been met with a resounding silence from its European allies, although Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, did tell CNN that “one of our member states has been treated in a way that is not acceptable.”
Mr. Le Drian has spoken with his German counterpart, Heiko Maas, but Germany’s American bond involves no less than the country’s postwar rebirth, something unshakable.
As for central European nations like Poland and Hungary, they place American protection through NATO far above French interests in the Indo-Pacific. For them, European “sovereignty” is anathema; they want their own, stolen not so long ago by the Soviet Union.
Because European Union foreign policy decision have to be taken unanimously, these differences matter greatly.
“The submarine deal has reinforced the validity of Mr. Macron’s plea,” Dominique Moisi, a political scientist, said, referring to the president’s quest for a far stronger and more autonomous Europe. “It has also reinforced Mr. Macron’s loneliness. We are right, but we are alone.”