French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to the US does not deserve the attention the news media is giving it.
Macron has nothing to offer Trump. France is only a bit player in the Syrian war. France’s military contribution to the Syrian raid was token. France does not lead Europe, Germany does, and does not decide EU policy, which is decided not in Paris but in Berlin.
Macron has ideas about the Iranian nuclear deal and climate change, which are completely different from Trump’s. However he is not going to change Trump’s views on either matter. On the contrary it is Macron who is being forced to change his ideas to adapt them to Trump’s.
The body language between the two men said it all very clearly. Trump is the overwhelmingly dominant partner. It is Macron who is being pulled along.
This is a tragedy for France.
Once upon a time, under General De Gaulle and his immediate successors Georges Pompidou and Valéry Giscard d’Estaing – both of whom had worked for De Gaulle – France actually mattered. It also briefly did so in the 2000s when Jacques Chirac – who also once worked for De Gaulle and Pompidou – was President.
The secret of France’s importance under De Gaulle and his followers was France’s distance from the US and assertion of France’s national interests and strong opposition to ‘supranationalism’ within the EU. This went along with a close relationship with Russia. De Gaulle especially was a strong friend of Russia’s.
By contrast the centre-left leaders who followed Giscard d’Estaing – Mitterand, Hollande and now Macron, along with Sarkozy – have pursued the opposite policy: the greatest possible closeness to the US and the greatest possible degree of ‘supranationalist’ integration within the EU.
The result is that for all Macron’s Napoleonic posturing France today is an irrelevance.