French leader sets out firm lines on climate change, trade, and foreign policy in address to Congress

Developments on Day 361 of the Trump Administration:

See also Podcast: Macron and Trump is Not a “Bromance” — It’s French Power Politics

Macron Takes on Trump Over Behavior and Policies

[UPDATE 1930 GMT: Donald Trump seems unaware of Emmanuel Macron’s putdowns in the French President’s Wednesday speech to Congress.

In a Thursday morning interview with his favorite program, Fox and Friends, Trump said, “The people of France were spellbound by what happened with their great President, Em-man-u-el, who just left. He is a wonderful guy.”

Trump claimed he had converted Macron to his point of view on Iran: “He is viewing, I believe, Iran a lot differently than he did before walking into the Oval Office.”]

In a speech to the US Congress, French President Emmanuel Macron sets out a case against Donald Trump and his Administration’s approach, criticizing insular politics, excessive nationalism, and the Administration’s positions on issues like climate change.

Macron also indicated that he had failed to persuade Trump not to withdraw from the July 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, calling US twists and turns on foreign policy “insane”.

On Monday, Macron’s state visit was marked by displays of friendship between the two men, even as Trump tried to establish an alpha-male authority over the much younger French leader. But, having charmed Trump into giving effusive praise at a joint press conference and on Twitter, Macron then set out views to Congress that brought Democrats to their feet with ovations and left behind any notional agreement with the US President.

Macron struck at the core of Trump’s rhetoric, behavior, and policies such as withdrawal from the Paris climate change accord and US protectionism through trade tariffs:

We can choose isolationism, withdrawal, and nationalism. This is an option. It can be tempting to us as a temporary remedy to our fears.

But closing the door to the world will not stop the evolution of the world. It will not douse, but inflame the fears of our citizens.

The French President warned that no one should take transatlantic ties or common values for granted and said liberal internationalism, the rule of law, and human rights were threatened.

He then addressed another message to Trump over his US counterpart’s admiration of leaders like Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping.

Other powers with the strongest strategy and ambition will fill the void we would leave empty. Other powers will not hesitate once again to advocate their own model to shape the 21st century world order.

Personally, if you ask me, I do not share the fascination for new strong powers, the abandonment of freedom, and the illusion of nationalism.

There was a sharp reference to Trump’s tariffs: “We need a free and fair trade for sure…[but] a commercial war opposing allies is not consistent with our mission, with our history, with our current commitments for global security.”

And on climate change, Macron left no doubt of his position as — to loud applause — he spoke of the necessity to preserve the planet for future generations:

Let us work together in order to make our planet great again and create new jobs and new opportunities while safeguarding our earth.

We are killing our planet. Let us face it: There is no planet B.

Before Macron’s address, Trump had tweeted with enthusiasm:

Trump offered no Twitter response afterwards.

Pessimism Over Fate of Iran Deal

Speaking to US reporters, Macron expressed doubt that he had succeeded in a key goal of his trip: persuading Trump to remain in the nuclear deal between Iran and the 5+1 Powers (US, UK, France, Germany, China, and Russia).

“My view — I don’t know what your President will decide — is that he will get rid of this deal on his own, for domestic reasons,” Macron said.

Macron appeared to have had limited success on Tuesday when Trump, while continuing to rail against Iran’s leaders as “monsters” and supporters of terrorism and deriding the “bad deal” that “should have never, ever been made”, said:

But we’ll see also if I do what some people expect, whether or not it will be possible to do a new deal with solid foundations.

Macron said he did not have specific inside information, but believed there was “a big risk” that Trump will not renew waivers on Congressional sanctions by a May 12 deadline. Covering issues from the deal to climate change, the French leader said changes in the US stance were “very insane in the medium- to long-term”.

Macron may have been turning Trump’s words back against the US President: in his Tuesday maybe-I-will-maybe-I-won’t statement, Trump said the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, in which Iran gave up its stock of 20% enriched uranium and suspended development of new nuclear centrifuges, is “insane” and “ridiculous”.