T. Belman. To fully understand this new relationship and its depth and significance, I suggest you watch the video at the bottom starting at 10:20.
French president and his US counterpart have many differences — but they can help each other.
PARIS — Forget about another bone-crushing handshake between Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron. When the U.S. president visits Paris this week, he will face an even greater display of French muscle: tanks, jeeps and soldiers marching down the Champs Elysées.
Trump — on his first official visit to France, starting Thursday — is due to stand next to French President Emmanuel Macron as he surveys troops on Bastille Day.
The trip’s timing, and its military backdrop, is designed to send a double-edged message. On one hand, Trump is being offered a rare privilege. In a two-day visit far grander than that enjoyed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in June, he will have a front-row seat at a celebration of French national pride that asserts the close relationship between France and the U.S.
But if Trump is being drawn so close, it is also because Macron wants to remind him of the United States’ role in Europe and France’s role as a military power.
A hundred years after the U.S. entered World War I, and one year after a bloody terror attack in Nice, Macron will show Trump that France is a fully operational military force ready to stand by the United States’ side as a NATO ally.
It’s a re-imagining of Macron’s iron-grip handshake from before the NATO summit in May — part affection, part an effort to keep Trump in line.
Divided, but not that divided
Expect the two leaders to catch the world off-guard by showing (wary) unity, not antagonism. “We don’t want him [Trump] to isolate himself,” an adviser to Macron said. “Our role is to have a restraining function on him.”
There is little doubt that Trump and Macron will find opportunities to underscore their differences during the two days the U.S. leader will be in France.
Macron, who has pledged to “Make Our Planet Great Again,” last week announced his country will host a conference on climate change in December. He’ll be able to show off his environmental credentials while standing next to the world’s climate change black sheep.
The U.S. president, meanwhile, keen to score points with his base back home, will be able make a show of non-compliance with his well-tailored French host.
To assume that Macron simply wants to antagonize Trump is to oversimplify their dynamic. As arguably the world’s most PR-savvy and closely observed leaders, both men will be wary of offering a repeat performance of their standoff at the NATO summit. This time, there will be talk of cooperation on security, trade and innovation, in addition to discussions on climate change, a French presidential adviser said.
For Trump, there is benefit to be had from cozying up to a man whose election win he described as “tremendous.” Senior White House officials said security and military issues would be the main focus during Trump’s Paris trip, and they expected there would be a long one-on-one session between the two presidents.
“Their relationship is great,” Trump’s chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, said after the G20 summit in Hamburg. “Macron personally called the president and invited him, and asked him to come to the 100th anniversary of Bastille Day.”
Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, jumped in to say, “It’s Bastille Day and the 100th anniversary of the entry of American troops into World War I,” he said, adding “Sorry, sir” for the interruption.
After being isolated on trade and climate change at last week’s G20, Trump could use a friend in Old Europe. And while British Prime Minister Theresa May may be a more natural partner for Trump, her country is heading out of the European Union. Despite Trump’s announcement that the U.S. and Britain will move toward a bilateral trade deal “very, very quickly,” after Brexit, the bigger trading partner for the United States will be the European Union.
In normal circumstances, Washington would turn to Germany as the Continent’s advocate for transatlantic free trade and partnership. But Chancellor Angela Merkel is trying to keep as much distance as possible from the U.S. president, at least until Germans head to the polls in September. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union recently downgraded its description of the United States from “friend” to “partner.”
Meanwhile Trump, bristling at German criticism, has repeatedly lashed out over Berlin’s trade and current account surpluses.
Which leaves Macron — who’s also been critical of Germany’s trade position, and who’s vowed to bring French defense spending up to NATO’s target of 2 percent of gross domestic product — as the obvious dance partner for the U.S. while Trump is in Europe.
It’s a role the French president is happy to take on.
Trump’s visit gives Macron a chance to play to his country’s strongest suit and flaunt the one area where his country clearly out-muscles Germany — military might. By displaying military hardware to Trump, Macron hopes to put France on a level with the United States and send a message to the rest of Europe: I am your new leader and protector.
“Merkel is beholden to German public opinion as long as she is running for election,” said the Macron adviser. “We don’t have the same constraints, and for us there is freedom to strengthen dialogue and seek areas of understanding, all while clearly stating where we stand apart.”
It helps that France and the United States have plenty of areas of policy convergence, including Syria, where Macron and Trump both advocate ceasing hostilities and letting President Bashar al-Assad stay in power. There is also the fight against terrorism, which Macron has proclaimed as his administration’s top priority, and will be sure to feature heavily in U.S.-French exchanges exactly one year after the massacre on Nice’s beachfront promenade.
Both men come from a business background, and both vaunt an ideology of individualism and personal success which, in Macron’s case, grates against domestic egalitarian instincts.
They also share a complex, often strained, relationship with the press. While Macron steers clear of borrowing Trump’s “fake news” label to smear media coverage, his government spokesman has taken to lecturing reporters not to “behave as judges” for covering allegations of nepotism concerning one of Macron’s chief allies.
The French leader’s administration is also waging a war on leakers that echoes the one going on in the White House, with one ministry going as as far as to launch a lawsuit to discover the person responsible for leaking papers on labor law reform.
David Herszenhorn contributed to this article.
Spy Master: Trump’s Foreign Policy Is Being Run By True Masters
Start at 10:20