Something very remarkable happened during US President Trump’s recent visit to France, and it is not being reported, possibly because it is a case of something which did not happen rather than of something that did.
During President Trump’s recent visit to Germany for the G20 summit in Hamburg protesters against him were out in force. The state visit President was invited to make to Britain in the autumn of this year has had to be put off because of massive protests against him.
By contrast there were barely any protests during President Trump’s visit to France, and apparently no arrests of protesters whatsoever. The entire occasion passed off quietly and peacefully, with President Trump able to attend the Bastille Day celebrations without incident.
This is especially remarkable given that France with its history of revolutions is no stranger to protests.
The consensus view is that President Trump is deeply unpopular in Europe where supposedly he is universally seen as a racist, xenophobic, illiberal misogynist monster.
I have never fully believed this. I have always been of the view that these opinions of President Trump were very much a north European phenomenon, and that southern Europe didn’t truly share them.
In this context France is an ambiguous country, in that geographically it extends into both northern and southern Europe. However culturally it is closer to southern Europe than the north.
The almost complete absence of protests against President Trump in France reinforces my view that hostility to President Trump in Europe is essentially a phenomenon of the liberal societies of north east Europe, just as hostility to President Trump in the US is essentially a phenomenon of the liberal East and West coasts.
The reality – and it is an important one – is that the hostility to President Trump, in Europe as well as the US, is far more narrow and far more concentrated amongst certain specific populations than the political and media attacks on him might lead one to think.
As for President Macron of France, he appears to have achieved the remarkable feat of forging a successful working relationship with President Trump – the most powerful leader of the West – at a time when the two countries which in recent years have been the US’s closest allies in Europe – Britain and Germany – have needlessly antagonised him.