All the handshakes, hugs and smooching between Trump and Macron this week made for cringing viewing. Not because two males were being cordial and affectionate.
No, the embarrassment stems from the French leader being such a pathetic poodle to the White House bully.
The “dandruff moment” was perhaps the most revealing. At one point in the Oval Office, the American president interrupted himself mid-sentence to lean over to his French counterpart and he began grooming his collar, saying he was removing “dandruff”. Macron seemed unfazed and continued smiling.
It was what Trump said next that was revealing. “We want him to be perfect… He is perfect.”
The Freudian slip from the American signified that the French president is little more than a cypher, a flunkey, a perfect little poodle for Washington. Does as he’s told.
During the three-day state visit, Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron gave the appearance of best buddies, of being equals. That’s certainly what the French leader was striving to achieve. To be seen as the top European ally of America, and the European politician who best understands Trump, best manages the maverick American.
In that way, Macron aims to make “France great again”; for it to be seen as a re-energized world power on an equal footing with the US. Since Macron was elected president last May, his stated goal has been to restore France as a great power.
That seemed to be working to plan this week. Macron is the first international leader to be hosted by Trump in an official state visit. The British “special relationship” with Washington has been eclipsed; and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel who follows Macron’s visit on Friday is being only afforded a low-key, one-day working meeting in the White House.
But the optics of bonhomie and “bromance” aside, Macron’s pretensions of standing alongside Trump as the “leaders of world freedom” are overblown.
The proof of that came when Macron caved-in to Trump’s antagonism over the Iranian nuclear deal. Saving that deal by keeping Trump onboard was supposed to be Macron’s main mission in Washington DC.
The day before Macron arrived, he gave an interview to Fox News asserting that “there was no Plan B” to the Iran nuclear accord which was signed in 2015 by the US, France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China.
Macron was billed as the European leader who would persuade Trump to stick with the nuclear agreement. But this week, despite all the glad-handing with “my friend Emmanuel”, Trump maintains an aggressive disdain for the Iran deal, hinting that he is ready to scrap it next month.
And what was Macron’s response? He said that France was now working with the US to “renegotiate a new deal” with Iran.
So much for Macron standing up to Trump.
Iran says that there will be no renegotiation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as it is formally known. The JCPOA was ratified by the UN Security Council after Iran and the six world powers signed it as a done deal in July 2015.
Russia and China have also said there can be no backtracking on the accord. The Europeans were also stating this — at least up to this week before Macron’s embarrassing U-turn. It will be very interesting to see what Merkel has to say on the matter when she arrives in Washington later this week.
What the encounter between Trump and Macron shows this week is that the French president is nothing more than a lapdog. He may have been regaled with pomp and ceremony, and with florid rhetoric about representing “America’s oldest ally”. But in practice, all the show of two strong leaders standing side-by-side is corny public imaging.
However, that’s what makes Macron a particularly dangerous accessory to Trump. The French politician is evidently willing to bend over backwards to pander to Washington’s demands.
Macron’s presumption of leading Europe is a pernicious delusion. Some media have even referred to him as “Trump’s whisperer” — intimating that the young French president has a Svengali-like influence over the older American.
In the days before the US, Britain and France carried out their illegal missile barrage against Syria on April 14, it was Macron to whom Trump turned to for advice on what action to take.
Macron reportedly briefed Trump on “French intelligence” about the alleged chemical-weapons atrocity on April 7 in Douma, near Damascus. Macron also reportedly cajoled Trump to order the military strikes a week later.
It has become clear now that the chemical-weapons incident on April 7 was a false-flag provocation staged by Western-backed militants.
In other words, French “intelligence” was either faulty, or more likely a fabrication. But the upshot was that the US, Britain and France committed a grave war crime by attacking Syria.
This is why Emmanuel Macron should give us the creeps. He is willing to say anything to ingratiate himself with the American president in order to inflate his world standing and that of his has-been colonial nation. All the effusive body language is that of a wannabe trying to be a statesman on the world stage.
Macron, like his American “daddy”, is taking it upon himself to unilaterally rip up an international treaty with Iran that other world powers and the UN have already finalized.
In order to justify this outrageous bad-faith and backsliding, Macron is giving credence to Trump’s calumny about Iran being a sponsor of terrorism, destabilizing the region, and illegally developing ballistic missiles. Macron is saying that a “new deal” with Iran will have to be made which will curb Iranian presence in Syria, allegedly in Yemen and the Middle East.
The “Trump whisperer” is not an independent, principled European leader. He is a self-aggrandizing careerist who is willing to play to Trump’s worst instincts and ignorance. Even if that means inciting more war in Syria and the Middle East.
Finian Cunningham has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. He is also a musician and songwriter. For nearly 20 years, he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organisations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent.