‘Trump whisperer’ aiming to tame The Donald
Can “la bromance” last? In a landmark state visit, Emmanuel Macron hails “very special relationship” with the US. He and Trump have struck an unlikely bond, but some say troubles lie ahead.
“We do have a very special relationship.” Trump says, before playfully brushing away supposed specks of dandruff from Macron’s shoulder: “We have to make him perfect. He is perfect.” The French president stares into Trump’s eyes, his beaming smile unbroken.
This was one of the several intimate moments shared by President Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron during the French president’s state visit to Washington this week — the first by any foreign leader during Trump’s presidency.
Dubbed the “presidential bromance”, Macron and Trump have struck up a surprising rapport. One journalist ranks them among “history’s oddest diplomatic couples”.
They are different in many ways. Macron surged to power in France with a positive global outlook and believes leaders should read philosophy every night. Trump won power thanks to an “America first” campaign and has three televisions in his bedroom.
Nevertheless, with dashes of flattery and straight-talking, Macron has won the ear of the American president (other European leaders call him the “Trump whisperer”).
But behind the chumminess lie several obstacles which could derail their special relationship.
For example, Trump has long threatened to pull America out of the Iran nuclear deal (an agreement designed to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons). Macron has made it his mission to stop this happening, and claims he and Trump had “very frank discussions” on the issue.
The situation in Syria also presents problems. France and America joined forces in recent airstrikes on Assad’s chemical weapons facilities, but Trump wants to remove US troops from the country as soon as possible.
Again Macron disagrees, reportedly urging Trump to commit to the fight long term. Last Sunday he told Fox News that an abrupt withdrawal would fuel “new terrorists”.
And then there is the environment. Trump was condemned last year for pulling America out of the Paris climate agreement. But in a speech to Congress yesterday, Macron insisted the US would return: “Let’s face it, there is no planet B,” he said.
Can “la bromance” last?
It is all for show, some say. In terms of their politics and personalities, the two men occupy different universes. We are simply witnessing a battle of their egos. Macron has no real influence, and will leave America without forcing Trump to change his mind on anything — they know it, and we should too.
Have some optimism, others respond. Both are political outsiders with maverick tendencies: the pair share distinctive qualities. More importantly, Trump clearly admires Macron. If anyone can coax the president out of his dangerous “America first” attitude, it’s the Frenchman. Don’t write him off yet.
- Do Trump and Macron really like each other? Does this matter?
- Is Emmanuel Macron Europe’s most important politician?
- Imagine you are a journalist attending a joint press conference between Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron. You can ask one question to both leaders. What question would you ask and why?
- One major difference between Trump and Macron is their opinions on the Iran nuclear deal. Do some research into it by reading The Day’s briefing under Become An Expert. Trump thinks the deal should be abandoned, Macron thinks it should be kept — who do you agree with?
Some People Say...
“Make our planet great again.”Emmanuel Macron
What do you think?
Q & A
- What do we know?
- As part of Macron’s visit, he became the first French president to address US Congress since Jacques Chirac in 1996. In the speech he specifically argued that the Iran nuclear deal should not be abandoned, and encouraged America to do more to fight climate change.
- What do we not know?
- If Macron’s interventions will have much effect. For example, when Trump pulled out of the Paris climate agreement, he did so because he claimed that its rules damaged the US economy and that he would always prioritise the needs of American people: “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.” He has also strongly attacked the Iran nuclear deal, describing it as one of the worst agreements ever made.
- They also kissed each other on the cheek and shared several lingering handshakes.
- Iran nuclear deal
- Signed in 2015, the agreement ensured that Iran limited its nuclear energy programme, in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions. To find out more about it follow the link under Become An Expert.
- It is unclear what impact these discussions have had. However, yesterday Trump discussed the possibility of negotiating a new deal, rather than ripping up the old one entirely.
- France and America
- They were also joined by the UK.
- US troops
- Approximately 2,000 troops remain in Syria, initially deployed to specifically fight against Islamic State.
- Paris climate agreement
- Signed in 2015 by 195 countries. Signatories commit to keeping the rise of average global temperatures to “well below” 2C.