What Macron said about French-American ties (page A10 in the NY Times)

Special to WorldTribune

By John J. Metzler

UNITED NATIONS — Stressing the shared values and security interests which have united France and the United States for over two centuries, French President Emmanuel Macron visited Washington, D.C.

This first formal State Visit of the Trump presidency was reserved for the USA’s oldest European ally, not to mention enduring friend in contemporary times.

What’s best described as a budding bonhommerie, or a “bromance” to put it into the Anglo vernacular, seemed to unite the two political leaders during the lavish visit. This is more than a cosmetic show of friendship but an ambitious move by Macron to balance his European Union commitments along with his cherished transatlantic instincts.

French President Emmanuel Macron toasts U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House on April 24, 2018. / Carlos Barria / Reuters
French President Emmanuel Macron toasts U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House on April 24, 2018. / Carlos Barria / Reuters

Amid hugs and handshakes, there’s an interesting political chemistry between Macron and the Donald, both political outsiders and mavericks who enjoy ruffling feathers and challenging the status quo.

In many ways, Trump (71) may see the young Macron (40) as the age of his son. Neither man is a political philosopher but rather a practical if determined practitioner.

While most of the mainstream media revel to stress points of disagreement between both presidents, such as climate change, the flawed Iran nuclear deal, and trade tariffs, it’s only natural and not surprising that friends and indeed sovereign nations are not precisely on the same page on each and every issue.

In an impassioned address to the U.S. Congress, President Macron stated clearly, “The strength of our bonds is the source of our shared ideals.” He added “This is what united us in the struggle against imperialism in the First World War. Then in the fight against Nazism in the Second World War. This is what united us again during the era of the Stalinist threats and now we lean on that strength to fight against terrorist groups.”

President Macron added poignantly, “Since 1776, we, the American and French people, have had a rendezvous with freedom. And with it come sacrifices.”

Relating to terrorist attacks he stated, “In recent years, our nations have suffered wrenching losses simply because of our values and our taste for freedom. Because these values are the very ones those terrorists precisely hate.” Specifically he stressed, “That is why we stand together in Syria and in the Sahel today, to fight together against these terrorist groups who seek to destroy everything for which we stand.”

Given the growing amity and military cooperation with Washington, Macron stressed, “This is a very special relationship.” But he cautioned, “We must remember the warning of President Theodore Roosevelt: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”

There remains a clarion call for multilateralism. Macron warned, “We cannot take for granted our transatlantic history and bonds. At the core, our Western values themselves are at risk.”

As a poignant rebuke to isolationists on both sides of the Atlantic, President Macron said, “The United States invented this multilateralism. You are the one now who has to help to preserve and reinvent it.”

America’s amazing economic revival is linked with growing economic nationalism in the USA. Yet, regarding the Trump Administration’s slapping steel tariffs on West European countries, Macron stated bluntly, “We need free and fair trade, for sure. A commercial war opposing allies is not consistent with our mission, with our history, with our current commitments to global security.”

On the contentious issue of climate change and the U.S. Administration’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate agreement, Macron opined, “On this issue it may happen we have a disagreement between the United States and France. It may happen, like in all families. But that is, for me, a short-term disagreement.”

Regarding other divisive issues such as the Iran nuclear deal, Macron added equally, “We have to face it… we have to work together.” France as a permanent member of the UN Security Council works in close tandem with American policy on issues from Syria to North Korea.

This extraordinary affirmation of Franco-American friendship was barely covered by the mainstream media; the New York Times put the story on page A 10!

Interestingly in April 1960, France’s respected wartime leader and later President Charles de Gaulle addressed Congress and told representatives that nothing was as important to France as “the reason, the resolution, the friendship the great people of the United States.”

As President Macron stated, “Fifty-eight years later, on this very day, I come here to convey the warmest feelings of the French nation, and to tell you that our people cherish the friendship of the American people, with as much intensity as ever.”

John J. Metzler is a United Nations correspondent covering diplomatic and defense issues. He is the author of Divided Dynamism the Diplomacy of Separated Nations: Germany, Korea, China (2014). [See pre-2011 Archives]