Trump and Macron are in the confused hunt for global leadership.
For a moment, French President Emmanuel Macron appeared to be a candidate for the vacant post of Donald Trump’s secretary of state as, between hugs and kisses, he whispered into the ear of his host the secrets of adult geopolitics. Trump had said that he wanted to pull US troops out of Syria, but with Macron at his side, he appeared to shift his position. Al Jazeera quotes Trump on his revised reasoning as saying, “Emmanuel and myself have discussed the fact that we don’t want to give Iran open season, especially since we really control it.”
Here is today’s 3D definition:
A right granted by the United States to other countries to operate freely in any part of the world, however distant it may be from America
Open season refers to the period of the year in which hunting is allowed in a particular region. The US decides who can shoot to kill in any part of the world and usually does most of the shooting itself, which is what Trump certainly meant when he said, “since we really control it.” On the other big question concerning Iran — Barack Obama’s 2015 nuclear agreement — the American president honed his hunting rhetoric. As reported by the British newspaper The Times, Trump stated, “I think we will have a great shot at doing a much bigger, maybe, deal.” That was, however, before Macron allowed himself to take a parting pot shot back at the man who appeared to be his best friend for life by calling “his flip-flopping on international agreements … insane.”
But perhaps Trump’s posturing owes less to the language of hunting than it does to the culture of bullying, an attitude that has always suited the man’s personality. Trump added that if Iran followed through on recent threats to accelerate its nuclear program in response to the US reneging on the agreement, it would face “big problems — bigger than they’ve ever had before.”
The contrast in the language used on either side merits some quick analysis. We learn that President Hassan Rouhani of Iran had warned of “grave consequences” if the US were to abandon the accord by reviving sanctions. “Grave consequences” is the language of traditional diplomacy. “Big problems” is the language of a schoolyard bully.
Since becoming president, Trump appears at times to be making the intellectual effort to recognize patterns in history and geopolitics. For example, he informs us that “Wherever there’s trouble — Yemen, Syria, no matter where you have it — Iran is behind it … Russia is getting more and more involved. But Iran seems behind everything where there’s a problem.”
This may simply represent the difference between Republicans and Democrats. For Democrats and much of the media (CNN, MSNBC), Russia is behind everything. Trump and the Republicans prefer Iran. Trump hasn’t yet studied geopolitics enough to notice that one of his other best friends for life, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is not only behind the troubles in Yemen and Syria, but is also more directly present on the frontlines. This may be because his whisperer, Emmanuel Macron, neglected to communicate this geopolitical truth to him.
Where Trump cultivates ignorance, Macron uses guile. In his Fox News interview with Chris Wallace, Macron stated, “The day we will finish this war against ISIS [Islamic State], if we leave, definitely and totally, even from a political point of view, we will leave the floor to the Iranian regime.” Interestingly, the French president mentioned leaving “the floor” to Iran. Where trigger-happy Trump imagines a hunting ground, Macron — the intellectual — sees the scene of a debate.
The Fox News interview had the merit of clarifying Macron’s approach to the US and possibly to everything else. He desperately wants to use the power network of the US to position himself as the brilliant, charismatic, far-seeing leader who will — as he affirms in the same interview — “create this new Syria and ensure Syrian people to decide for the future [sic].”
Macron certainly remembers that France ran or rather subdued Syria for several decades under a League of Nations mandate following World War I. In Macron’s eyes, France can renew with its past dominant role in diplomacy and assume the vocation of restructuring Europe under French leadership, as well as most of Africa and (why not?) the Middle East, following the obvious failure of the Americans. He can’t do it without the US, who must supply the military backbone, the brawn to match Macron’s French brains. He wants to get others involved — “even Russia and Turkey” — so long as they follow his wise leadership.
President Macron is engaged in an interesting balancing act based on leveraging the brute strength, economic and military, and the moral weakness of his allies, whether it’s in Europe or elsewhere across the globe. But to succeed, the pretender to the throne of global mastermind must convince others of his own moral strength. And despite a solid majority in the French parliament and what people see as an otherwise respectable level of performance in handling the reins of power, he hasn’t quite managed to do that at home as his approval rating erratically dips and rises, and he is seeing as avoiding the domestic issues French people actually care about.
*[In the age of Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain, another American wit, the journalist Ambrose Bierce, produced a series of satirical definitions of commonly used terms, throwing light on their hidden meanings in real discourse. Bierce eventually collected and published them as a book, The Devil’s Dictionary, in 1911. We have shamelessly appropriated his title in the interest of continuing his wholesome pedagogical effort to enlighten generations of readers of the news.]
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.
Photo Credit: The White House