There are deeper questions about America’s future reliability as a security partner, especially if the conflict with China turns kinetic, which is part of Mr Macron’s argument, Mr Lesser acknowledged. “Despite all the American commitment to Europe, if something goes wrong in the Indo-Pacific, it would change the force structure in Europe pretty quickly.”
In Poland, a strong US ally in the European Union and NATO, the response to the new alliance has been more positive, not aiming for a pivot away from Europe “but for the US, with the British and the Australians, to get serious about China and also defend the free world,” said Michal Baranowski, head of the German Marshall Fund office in Poland.
At the same time, he said, Poles are seeing another case where the supposedly professional, pro-European Biden government is “again not consulting and putting European allies under the bus,” he said. “This time the French, but for us it was Nord Stream 2, when we were thrown under the bus to Germany,” he said. That was a reference to Mr Biden’s decision to allow the completion of a natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, bypassing Ukraine and Poland, which was a priority for European powerhouse Berlin.
“The US will say again that ‘we are building strong alliances, with Germany and Australia,'” said Mr Baranowski. “But who is bothered by it? Other allies.”
On relations with China, Europeans would rather not see Beijing outraged, said Ms Balfour of Carnegie Europe. “European allies felt more uncomfortable with more aggressive stances on China” and “well aware of the need to talk to China about climate and trade,” she said.
So if Europe can continue to talk to Beijing without being portrayed by China as a security pact against it, that could be helpful, she said. “If there’s a silver lining to this, it’s if the European Union is able to play this card diplomatically and not paint the world for or against China, which is the rhetoric Beijing is pushing.”