Analysis

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said during a visit to Washington this week he is worried about the significant gaps between the United States and Europe on some of the world’s most important issues, from climate change to America’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement.
Emmanuel Macron is on a high. But Emmanuel Macron also has a problem. How he addresses that problem, and whether he can solve that problem, will largely determine his success over the next four years and his chances of re-election for a new five-year term from 2022 to 2027.
The leaders of North and South Korea agreed on April 27 to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and work to formally end the Korean War this year.

Making history, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un walked across into South Korea where he was greeted by a beaming South Korean President Moon Jae-in. This was the first time that a North Korea leader has set foot in South Korea since the end of the Korean War in 1953. Kim then asked Moon to step back with him into North Korea; Moon obliged, eliciting applause from onlookers.

“South and North Korea confirmed the common goal of realizing, through complete denuclearization, a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula,” according to a statement signed by Kim and Moon after their meeting at the so-called truce village, Panmunjom, on the border between the two Koreas.

“South and North Korea agreed to actively seek the support and cooperation of the international community for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” the statement said.
There seemed to be a plan behind French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visits to Washington this week: a carefully choreographed tag team effort to tame US President Donald J. Trump’s unilateralist impulses on tariffs and the Iran nuclear deal that cause serious friction in transatlantic relations.
“We are happy when people and things conform and unhappy when they don’t. People and events don’t disappoint us, our models of reality do.”

—    Stefan Zweig, Austrian novelist, playwright, journalist, and biographer

Lawmakers in the national parliament—who “owe just about everything to him”—are “perfect foot soldiers” for a leader with “an expansive notion of power.” He has “almost unchecked authority” and critics accuse him of “building a fawning cult of personality.”

That's the New York Times talking not about Hungary’s Viktor Orban or Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, but rather about French President Emmanuel Macron.
Whatever the policy outcomes on individual issues, Emmanuel Macron’s three-day state visit to Washington, from April 23 to April 25, will have succeeded in one goal which is surely at the top of the French president’s agenda: to “Make France Great Again.” He did so by assuming the mantle of the leadership of the West, by acting not only as president of France, not only as president of Europe, but also as president of the free world. In so doing, Macron positioned himself as the equal of the American president, something no other world leader could contemplate today.
Emmanuel Macron’s state visit to Washington this week brings with it two significant risks and two singular opportunities.

By now the French president is well recognized as being the world leader most esteemed by, and in closest contact with, the US President Donald J. Trump. Here lie the risks.
The free world (to put it in Washington wonk speak: the “rules-based, liberal global order”), the product of American leadership, which generated relative peace, prosperity, and democracy after 1945 and even more after 1989, faces aggression from without, most acutely from Russia; a long-range challenge from the rise of China; and, most alarming, doubts from within about the worth of our own system and values. 

The visits to Washington this week of Europe’s two most important leaders—French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel—take place against this background and the context of favorable but vulnerable economic growth (see the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) World Economic Report just out). The big question in this week’s talks is whether Europe’s leaders can influence US President Donald J. Trump to accept the value of the free world—America’s own creation—and not to trash it in favor of, ironically, the sort of Old European Great Power nationalism which brought ruin in the twentieth century.
French President Emmanuel Macron said in a television interview on April 15 that he convinced US President Donald J. Trump not to withdraw troops from Syria.

“Ten days ago, President Trump was saying ‘the United States should withdraw from Syria.’ We convinced him it was necessary to stay for the long term,” Macron said in the TV interview.

Macron said that he had also persuaded Trump “that we needed to limit the strikes to chemical weapons [sites], after things got a little carried away over tweets.” He has since tried to walk back those comments.
The Trump administration’s latest Russia sanctions package is solid and strong. It hits oligarchs tied to Russian President Vladimir Putin and their associated companies, two “golden children” (corrupt and privileged children of the Putin elite), Rosoboroneksport (the Russian arms firm), and selected officials.

While leaving plenty of room for escalation, the new package also avoids dumb moves, like trying to sanction Russian gas exports, which could drive wedges with our European or Asian allies, while simultaneously going after select CEOs.


    

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