Opinion: Emmanuel Macron Expounds as the World Burns - PressFrom - US

OpinionEmmanuel Macron Expounds as the World Burns

18:52  22 august  2019
18:52  22 august  2019 Source:   theatlantic.com

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Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

Emmanuel Macron Expounds as the World Burns© Pool / Reuters

It was a perfect late summer evening when President Emmanuel Macron—tanned and super-energized in a dark blue suit and crisp white shirt—held forth before the Elysée press corps on matters of international import. Posh Paris was largely out of town. Nearby, boulangeries, shops and the French National Assembly were still closed for the August holiday. Tumbleweeds practically blew down the Boulevard Saint-Germain, its cafés filled with tourists and Instagram influencers.

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Emmanuel Macron : We will rebuild Notre Dame 01:12. The wording could have seemed excessive. After all, Macron has long been derided for his Notre Dame is far more than a building: It is a symbol recognized across the country and the world . It shows France at its best and the weight of its history

But Macron had a message to deliver: I’m the last man standing, defender of multilateralism, ice-cool head in a hot and ever warming world.

It wasn’t a new message from him, but one that he felt bears repeating. On Tuesday, Macron met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Today, he met with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson—perfidious Albion incarnate—and the two clashed over Brexit; he will also meet separately with Indian leader Narendra Modi and Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Then this weekend, Macron will host the G7 summit in Biarritz, at the bend in the Atlantic coast where France meets Spain. A 19th-century seaside resort at the end of the season is a good setting for a relationship in distress. Or many relationships in distress—the European Union, the Transatlantic order, the global order.

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“We are experiencing an absolutely historic period in our international order,” Macron said on Wednesday. There is, he said, a “very profound crisis of representative democracy” in Europe. There’s also a crisis of climate change, biodiversity, technology, migration, to say nothing of “a crisis of inequality, which is the crisis of contemporary capitalism.” The global order is shifting and the world risks a “bipolarization between the United States and China,” Macron said. “The risk is a loss of sovereignty” in which other countries would become “vassals” of the two new powers. “I don’t want that for Europe or for France,” he said.

Macron was just getting warmed up—he followed 30 minutes of remarks with a two-hour question-and-answer session. But the more he spoke, the more he expounded so articulately on every question thrown his way, the more he asserted French and European power, the more it seemed the moment might be passing him by. Macron could look at a burning building and see it as an excellent opportunity to better understand the role of oxygen in combustion. He examines the flames, he describes them well, but is it in his power to put them out?

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There were his dealings with Trump, who earlier that day had called off a planned visit to Denmark apparently because it wouldn’t entertain the idea of selling Greenland to the United States. It was “very simple,” Macron said: Anything Trump pledged as a campaign promise is non-negotiable—the U.S. pulling out of the Iran deal and the Paris climate accords—but it’s still possible to “convince him” and “do real things” on other issues, such as Syria. After Trump slowed down a bit after announcing the U.S. would withdraw immediately from Syria, “I think it was our exchanges that let him stay,” Macron said.

Then it was on to Russia, and the importance of keeping Russia in the conversation (on Iran, Syria) and closer to Europe, and eventually back in the G8; they were kicked out after invading Crimea in 2014, but Macron didn’t spell out what the conditions would be for their return. Putin, Macron seemed to suggest, basically needed some back-slapping. After the Cold War, Russia needed to find a new enemy, an external conflict, but really, Macron said, they should lay off on the “cyber-aggression.” “The Russian people live like a great power and a great European power,” Macron said. But Russia’s population is “declining and getting old, so it’s a country that has to choose a destiny.”

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Then it was on to why India needs to be involved in fighting climate change, how artificial intelligence is the future, why Iran needs to stay in the nuclear accord, how the French police handled the Yellow Vest protests, the importance of economic development in Africa, how climate change threatens biodiversity—and lots and lots about la numérique, or technology, which seems to be French shorthand for It’s Google’s world, we just live in it. Macron is keen on Europe taxing Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, which operate out of Europe via structures that largely allow them to avoid paying local taxes.

In all, Macron gave a command performance. All of Macron’s performances are command performances. He is nothing if not a gifted orator, with a brilliant command of policy details, an awareness of the historical moment, Europe’s dark past, what’s at stake. He is right. He is always right. He wants to remind you that he is always right. He seems to be saying: The world may be on fire, but don’t worry, I’m here. He’s a rational man, but these are irrational times. When world leaders meet in Biarritz this weekend to to grapple with a new world order, will they listen to him? Will anyone?

Netanyahu tells Macron 'wrong time' for talks with Iran.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday to avoid any rapprochement with Iran, amid European efforts to rescue the embattled 2015 nuclear deal, his office said. © Jack GUEZ Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to pour cold water on Emmanuel Macron's efforts to promote dialogue with Iran in a phone call with the French president on Friday "It is precisely the wrong time to talk with Iran", Netanyahu told Macron in a phone call initiated by the French leader, according to a statement from the Israeli premier's office.

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