Trump’s Visit to Paris: A Win-Win Relationship?

17.07.2017
The most important outcome of Trump’s visit to France is psychological. The prestige of Macron in the French public opinion increased tremendously. Macron received the President of Russia in the Castle of Versailles and then he receives the President of the USA for the National Day. People have the feeling France is coming back as an important country after the humiliations of the Holland presidency.  For Trump, it showed he was not so isolated after the Hamburg meeting. 

How would I assess the visit of American President Donald Trump to France? Three things are important. First of all, Macron had a good training in the American culture: he speaks very good English and was selected as “young leader” by the French - American foundation among 400 French personalities in politics, business and culture. Secondly, he has never been, like Donald Trump, a politician and has never been a member of the parliament. He was active as a banker, and Trump was a prominent businessman. Most important, both are very pragmatic personalities. Thirdly, both presidents are politically fragile. Trump has many problems with the House of Representatives, with the Senate and with the judiciary. Macron at the first round got the votes of only 18 - 19% of the citizens who were registered in the electoral lists. The majority of the French citizens are not “macronists”. In the parliamentary elections in June the “Marching Republic”, his political party, got the majority but with only 14% of support because 51% of the citizens did not vote at all. They need more prestige, and foreign relations can help them in getting it.

Macron took the initiative to invite Trump because the 14th of July, French National Day, was the occasion reviving memories of the military alliance between the USA and France during World War I. For Trump, it was the occasion to communicate on other issues than Russian interference or climate policy. The situation is good for a new French - American reset because the United Kingdom is no longer in the European Union (Brexit). Besides, the relations between Trump and Mrs Merkel are difficult. Macron dreams to be a new General de Gaulle. He showed this by putting in his official photography the General de Gaulle’s book “Mémoires de guerre” opened on his desk. For him, France could be the best European bridge with America instead of the United Kingdom or Germany. And it gives the opportunity to President Trump not to stay “isolated”.

The most important outcome of Trump’s visit to France is psychological. The prestige of Macron in the French public opinion increased tremendously. Macron received the President of Russia in the Castle of Versailles and then he receives the President of the USA for the National Day. People have the feeling France is coming back as an important country after the humiliations of the Holland presidency.  For Trump, it showed he was not so isolated after the Hamburg meeting. Trump said at the end of his visit that it was possible to have discussions again on the climate change. It was important for President Macron to show it could be possible to have results with President Trump.  Though the visit had no significant practical results but it could support both presidents as far as the public opinion is concerned, what is a real necessity for them. In fact the best assets of both presidents are in their ability to communicate.

If we look at the history of French - American relations and the geopolitical situation within the Atlantic alliance, France is important for the United States because it is in the middle of Western Europe. Without France, the European Union would probably collapse. Since the Brexit France is the only European country which is a nuclear power and a permanent member of the Security Council of the United Nations.  For France, good relations with the United States are mostly important, both in the political, economic, and cultural fields. At the same time, Macron wants to reset relations with Germany and make it better, but it is difficult as long as the French economy is not growing and shows a permanent deficit of public finances. The French business community makes pressure to develop better cooperation with Russia because of the perspectives of growing trade. Good relations between American and French presidents can become a prerequisite for achieving appropriate changes in the East of Europe. Trump’s visit to Paris is a first step in that direction. It was a win-win event.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

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