Trump’s ‘unbreakable’ bond with macron may be tested by iran deal, climate change wjla

President Donald Trump hailed his relationship with French President Emmanuel Macron as “unbreakable” at the start of a state visit this week, but the French leader’s address to Congress Wednesday signaled challenges ahead that may test that bond.

“It is a critical moment,” he said. “If we do not act with urgency as a global community, I am convinced that the international institutions, including the United Nations and NATO, will no longer be able to exercise their mandate and stabilizing influence. We would then inevitably and severely undermine the liberal order we built after World War II.”

During the nearly-hour-long speech, Macron denounced “the rampaging work of extreme nationalism,” “the fascination for new strong powers,” and “the corruption of information.” He also called for “a new breed of multilateralism,” promoted “a smooth transition to a low-carbon economy,” and warned against engaging in “commercial war” over unfair trade practices.

“Some people think that securing current industries – and their jobs – is more urgent than transforming our economies to meet the global challenge of climate change…,” Macron said. “By polluting the oceans, not mitigating CO2 emissions and destroying our biodiversity, we are killing our planet. Let us face it: there is no Planet B.”

In office for less than a year, Macron’s friendship with Trump has already led some in the press to label him a “Trump whisperer.” That rapport was on full display during meetings between the two this week and an official state dinner Tuesday.

“I think his meeting has been a big success,” said Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Ill. “If you look at the issues Trump discussed with Macron, issues related to terrorism, security issues, and trade—a lot was talked about and I think a lot was accomplished.”

“The common ground is, something has to be dealt with in the right way to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons,” said Carey Cavanaugh, a former ambassador who now teaches diplomacy and conflict resolution at the University of Kentucky’s Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce. “They both agree on that but they clearly disagree on the tactics.”

“It is true to say that this agreement may not address all concerns, very important concerns,” he said of the deal reached to by the U.S., France, Germany, Britain, Russia, and Iran. “This is true. But we should not abandon it without having something substantial, more substantial, instead. That is my position.”

With Trump threatening to withdraw from the agreement in advance of a May 12 deadline to decide whether to continue waiving economic sanctions, Macron stated an opportunity exists for “a more comprehensive deal” that also addresses issues like ballistic missile testing and interference in neighboring countries. While such a deal is being negotiated, though, he urged the U.S. not to “leave the floor to the absence of rules.”

“What he was looking for was showcasing his proximity to Trump, but at the same time, that he’s still capable of voicing differences, including in a public way,” said Celia Belin, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Center on the United States and Europe.

Macron did not explicitly tie Trump to the isolationism and support for authoritarians he denounced before Congress, but both critics and supporters of the president have interpreted it as a rebuke of his ideology. The positive reception it drew from Democrats in the room reinforced that perception.

“The U.S. Congress gave Macron over a dozen standing ovations for doing so, celebrating his insistence that the United States should rejoin the Paris Climate Accords, and that the toxic Iran nuclear deal was and is a good idea,” wrote Breitbart London editor-in-chief Raheem Kassam. “In other words Macron just spat in the President’s face and Trump appears to have licked his lips and accepted it.”

“It is not good when the last-resort player of the game decides just to change its position I think,” Macron said. “It can work on the short-term but it is very insane on the mid- to long-term, and that is why I am very concerned by that—that for me is the main concern.”

“I think what he did is he represented the position of France and the other key players on the importance of maintaining the Iran agreement,” Cavanaugh said. “I think he was frustrated that at the end he was not able to convince Trump there is not another easy solution.”

As with any personal relationship, there is a nebulous element of chemistry at work between Trump and Macron, but the two men’s personalities seem to gel. A successful visit by Trump to France last year, including attendance at a Bastille Day celebration that prompted the president to seek his own military parade, helped solidify their connection.

Trump has a frostier relationship with his next European guest, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who will visit the White House Friday. While she shares Macron’s objectives in shifting Trump’s stance on Iran and Syria, she is poised to receive a much less celebratory reception when she arrives in Washington.