It’s been absolutely everywhere, Macron and Trump’s handshake at the NATO summit. Manly, tough, direct – all the synonyms in the dictionary have been wheeled out to describe it. It’s been shown in every format, slow motion, still shot, with viewing instructions. Look closely and see how it’s Trump, overpowered, caught out at his own game, who is attempting to free his hand from the tremendous grip of En Marche!, unsuccessfully at first, then a second time.

Everything Means Something

Oh, he’s strong, the Frenchman. Stronger than the Japanese and all those who’ve let themselves be hoodwinked. A successful debut for the kid who dominated the 70-year-old, and with his charm as an ally, managed to slip Juncker into his pocket as well.

Why not? Body language is important, and the image presented at an international summit seeps into the public consciousness. The hugs and kisses, the jostling, the sulkiness, the length of breakfasts, the lateness, the handshakes – everything gets dissected, everything means something. And that handshake will seep into the American consciousness that much more because the English-speaking press, at war with Trump, has given it all the publicity it needs. Well played!

But, as always, there is what the image shows and what the image doesn’t show. And what it doesn’t show is that Trump has yielded no ground to NATO, repeating what he has continually said since the election – that the United States pays too much, and other countries don’t pay enough. Something else it doesn’t show is that if the Frenchman has been welcomed by the EU, it is because he has revealed the content of his roadmap, which is to rigorously implement reforms required by Germany before any serious discussion can take place.

Above All, Let’s Not Discourage Finance

It’s also because one of the first acts of the Macron-Le Maire government (and hardly any sections of the French media have reported this) was to request the postponement of a meeting with the Eurogroup scheduled for May 22, which was to finalize an agreement between 11 European countries, delayed for three years, on the taxation of financial transactions in Europe.

For three years, every pretext has been effective in delaying the agreement. It’s either too ambitious or not ambitious enough. Elections need to be held first here or there. Today, Brexit provides the perfect pretext for the French request. While “la finance,” when it flees the city, is surely going to head for Paris or Frankfurt, and it won’t be discouraged by overtaxing! In the meantime, it’s money that has twisted Macron’s arm.