Permit this native of Chamberí and emigrant, who spent this particular July 14 stranded in - would you believe it - the heart of Chamberí, to dispute the analysis of the U.S. president’s visit to France published in these pages, which described Emmanuel Macron as “Donald Trump’s only ally in the Old World.”
Now that Great Britain is effectively not part of the continent, we cannot count Theresa May, who does appear to be an ally. But Vladimir Putin and Andrzej Duda, the Polish president, are two of the Old World’s main players, and it is their closeness to Trump, not this supposed closeness with Macron, which is causing concern in the government ministries of the European Union and in Berlin in particular, where the feeling is that Trump could divide the continent and even the EU itself. It was no coincidence that Macron met with Angela Merkel just hours before his warm reception of the U.S. president.
When Macron put Trump so firmly and publicly in his place at their first and still recent meeting, posting his now famous “make our planet great again” tweet in defense of the Paris climate agreement, he drew a clear line in the sand. His political differences with Trump, as an internationalist and a liberal, are clear to all. As the great French political scientist François Heisbourg has pointed out, Macron “is trying to demonstrate to the world that France is back, that we’re no longer an object of pity but a serious actor on the scene.”
The masterstroke of the French president is in taking his next step, supported by a historical ephemeris, from the 100 year anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War I to that famous cry from Colonel Charles E. Stanton of “Lafayette, we are here!” to pull France out of the trenches and carry the country to victory. Two and a half centuries of cooperation mean much more than the differences between two politicians, and Macron is offering the isolationist and beleaguered Trump the opportunity to become part of the extraordinary history of friendship between France and North America.
Heisbourg also commented admiringly on the political finesse Macron has demonstrated: “The 100th anniversary of America’s entry into the First World War is a beautiful way of reminding everybody on both sides of the Atlantic that there is a century of trans-Atlantic complicity which has been built up; Western Europe and the United States of America. That’s a strong message that goes well beyond Trump.”
And if a friendly dinner in the Eiffel Tower (oh the grandeur!) is thrown in, even while putting up with Trump’s blunders with Brigitte Macron, then so much the better. But without taking things too far.