France: Wooing Trump with pomp and ceremony
French President Emmanuel Macron knows how to turn on the charm, said Olivier Bot in Tribune de Genève (Switzerland). When President Trump arrived in Paris last week, the French leader did everything possible to woo and flatter his American counterpart. Trump had wanted a big military parade for his inauguration, with tanks and missile launchers parading through Washington—a request that was politely declined by the Pentagon. But in Paris, he finally got that show. Trump was Macron’s guest of honor at the country’s Bastille Day celebrations, which this year also commemorated the centennial of the U.S. entry into World War I, and the New Yorker beamed as thousands of troops marched down the Champs-Élysées and jets colored the sky blue-white-red. The visit even included a swanky dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant in the Eiffel Tower, “the pinnacle of romanticism for Americans.” Macron has cannily reactivated “the historic military and diplomatic alliance” between America and France, while reminding the world that “nothing is gained by making the U.S. president a pariah.”
Trump clearly had a blast, but his manners left something to be desired, said Le Parisien (France). He had another one of his bizarre, drawn-out handshake battles with Macron. And when he met the French leader’s wife, Brigitte—who at 64 is 25 years older than her husband—Trump blurted, “You’re in such good shape!” and then turned to Macron as if to congratulate him.
“Even if it was not intended as a sexist remark or a reference to age,” the comment “appeared at least clumsy.” Still, it was obvious that the leaders and their wives genuinely enjoyed one another’s company. But will anything come of that rapport? asked Jacques Hubert-Rodier in Les Echos (France). Macron has positioned himself as Trump’s favorite European leader. Yet France and the U.S. now disagree on nearly everything: from immigration to free trade to the need to rebuke Russia for meddling in Western elections. Macron has practically no hope of ever persuading Trump to rejoin the Paris Agreement on climate change—unless, that is, “the fickle Trump suddenly changes his mind.”
Macron may have charmed the U.S. president, but he knows better than to trust him, said Maurice Bontinck in the Charente Libre (France). That’s why Macron is building French policy around a different ally: Germany. Shortly before Trump arrived in Paris, Macron and Chancellor Angela Merkel concluded a joint cabinet meeting at the Élysée Palace, where they agreed France and Germany would start to harmonize corporate taxes and begin work on a joint fighter jet. The French president even got Merkel to agree to work toward a common Eurozone budget and a single EU finance minister. Macron managed an elegant pirouette from one ally to another, always in the lead. “In the waltz of diplomacy, Paris is now setting the beat.” ■