WHETHER or not one likes former Rothschild banker Emanuel Macron’s neo-liberal domestic policies — which most French find abhorrent — you have to give France’s youngest president credit for emulating Vladimir Putin’s way of all but forcing recalcitrant players to negotiate — including President Trump. Although the American media did not mention it, at the joint press conference, President Macron outlined a renegotiation of the Euro-American Treaty with Iran that takes into account Trump’s criticisms of the original, making it impossible for the American President to ditch it.
Behind Macron’s international outreach lie centuries of French ‘gloire’ And behind his unique approach to Donald Trump lie a hundred years of inadmissible French decline. Last year in Paris, Macron’s attitude toward Trump could be attributed to the fact that he was the host. This year, he is the guest, and yet, his gestures toward the man most people recoil from are even more intimate — and reciprocated. (Donald however, went a step too far when he ‘brushed the dandruff’ from Macron’s collar.)
However you look at it, this dynamic is a game-changer: the man who craves adoration will want more of Macron’s fawning, allowing himself to be led while being upheld as the elder statesman. Macron hails from the north of France, a region known for its no-nonsense solidarity. And while French railroad workers are up in arms over cuts to their special privileges, and students are determined to resist changes to the law that allows everyone access to the free university system, (from which 60 per cent of students drop out in their first year), Macron’s ‘Jupiterian’ agenda must be welcomes by a world on the brink.
Seen by outsiders as frivolous, untrustworthy and head-strong, France is convinced that its ‘glorious’ past entitles it to a permanent seat on the Security Council, even though Germany carries more weight economically and remains the dominant influence in Eastern Europe.
Macron’s election came at a time when Europe was just beginning to question seven plus decades of acquiescence to American hegemony, starting with GI’s, coca-cola and Hollywood. In 1981, soon after the election of François Mitterand, France’s first socialist president since World War II, I got into a terrible argument with the publisher of a major weekly who had been a foremost opponent of the Vietnam War and was now an unapologetic admirer of Reagan’s America. It has taken four decades since then for the Europeans to begin to turn away from that fascination, a transformation that was already under way when Donald Trump was invited by Macron to sit on the presidential reviewing stand at the Bastille Day Parade.
Ever the showman, Trump adopted the same approach to state visits as Macron and Putin. Shortly after his election, Macron was received by Putin at Peter the Great’s Palace in St. Petersburg, and he returned the courtesy by inviting Putin to Versailles. Trump thus invited the French President and his wife to a reception at the Mount Vernon Estate of Revolutionary President George Washington. A shared appeal to ancient grandeur could help turn Europe from potential battleground between the two superpowers into an honest broker between them. And this may enable Trump to escape the widely cast Russiagate Net.
New Eastern Outlook, April 29. Deena Stryker is an international expert, author and journalist who has been at the forefront of international politics for over 30 years.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Opinion