The New York Times reported, “President Emmanuel Macron of France seemed to be everywhere at once during the Group of 7 summit. For the space of a weekend, at least, the West appeared to have one person running the show, and it was not the American president.” He more or less corralled President Trump, put pressure on the administration to start talks with Iran (even bringing in Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, whom the Trump administration recently sanctioned) and resisted Trump’s notion that the G-7 should let Russia back in.
Macron also stood up to Brazil’s bully president, Jair Bolsonaro, who mocked Macron’s wife. Macron also negotiated an aid package to help Brazil extinguish the Amazon fires. (Bolsonaro rejected the offer, but Macron sufficiently stirred international outrage over Brazil’s negligence in protecting one of the most important carbon-ingesting natural resources on the planet.)
Macron didn’t publicly embarrass Trump, a wise tactic when dealing with a narcissist. (“[A] one-on-one lunch he organized for Mr. Trump — aides only joined at the end — that evidently went far to mollify the American president,” the New York Times reported. “Mr. Trump spoke effusively about the meeting afterward.”)
The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, “European diplomats are getting behind a French initiative to provide Iran economic relief from U.S. sanctions in return for its full compliance with a multinational nuclear accord.” While it’s far from clear Trump would go along with this, Macron has rallied support for a preliminary deal that could allow Iran “to sell at least 700,000 barrels of oil a day—more than double its current exports. It also envisions a credit line of some $15 billion so Iran could draw on hard currency, getting around U.S. sanctions that freeze Iran’s export revenues in foreign bank accounts.” It’s not clear what Iran would do in return.
Whether one agrees with Macron’s proposal, the contours of which are still murky, it’s undeniable that he is leading the West in the absence of a functional U.S. president and competent British prime minister. (Boris Johnson was left staving off domestic blowback to his efforts to sideline Parliament to jam through his no-deal Brexit.) Macron’s voice in support of free trade and fighting climate change are a welcome relief from Trump’s tariff chest-thumping and climate change denial.
For all of this, we can say, bien joué (well done!), President Macron.