‘America Is Back,’ but Europe Has Moved

President Biden set out to declare a triumphant U.S. return to the trans-Atlantic alliance. “America is back,” the president said in his speech this week to the Munich Security Conference. The leaders of France and Germany promptly made it clear that the four years of the Trump presidency had changed the relationship.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron renewed his call for Europe’s “strategic autonomy,” which would require the Continent to be prepared to defend itself. Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel bluntly stated that the interests of the U.S. and Europe wouldn’t always converge, which most listeners took as a reference to the European Union’s recent trade pact with China, along with Germany’s determination to complete the Nord Stream 2 natural-gas pipeline from Russia. The U.S. may be back, but it can’t expect to reclaim its old seat at the head of the table.