Wednesday, August 28, 2019


Biarritz can be a little spooky, with Napoleon III's ghost playing phantom of the Second Empire opera. Count on President Macron to light it up.

The G7 meeting was a Blitz wherein French panache took over from the American president's usual rants, which start to test everybody's endurance. Trump's pack of lies and mistakes did not find an audience there.  Leaders were too happy to let France take the lead. The two scrooges--the US and Brazil-- didn't find any fans. America's empty chair during the enlarged climate change meeting was another indication of political impotence. That the French got the Iranian foreign minister to stop by for a bilateral "happy hour" was a diplomatic coup, obliging the Trump entourage to hide for cover.

Nevertheless the next G7 in 2020 will take place in the United States and promises to be of a different nature, a recipe of sound and fury. Trump, in appropriate Mobutu fashion, will open his hotel (with a price tag) and Putin will almost certainly figure on the guest list. Since the Russians will intervene in the US presidential elections, it is only normal that the Kremlin landlord will make sure that everything goes to his plan.

More seriously the Biarritz meeting made clear that the Trump brand doesn't sell anymore. The Americans finally start to wake up to the nightmare they endure non-stop.  The world is no longer amused and intrigued by this accidental aberration. This dysfunctional administration is stuck in the many wars and tweets which are supposed to be the little red vade mecum opus of the Trumpian thought. What follows is a matinee farce. Meanwhile serious world leaders are getting used to disguising their lack of interest in America's wanderings under the cover of flattery. The closer the US elections become, the crazier the White House will act. The most bizarre initiatives and moves will befall the spectators, like algorithms from Marvel.

Europe now has a major opportunity under a new Commission and with a creative policy-making machine, freed from Washington's shackles. It would nevertheless be self-defeating to go on a war path with Washington--this, too, will pass. Meanwhile interests will diverge. The EU might push even harder in situations wherein multilateral sophistication can be more in demand than unilateral whims: Korea, Kashmir, Iran, Ukraine, trade, WTO, climate, Trans-Pacific Partnership, Helsinki Final Act, human rights. Europe does not intend to be the final power broker.  Its hard-power is too negligible almost, but its soft-power (avec l'accent francais) can open doors and minds. Besides, there will be no deluge after Trump, just a long convalescence.


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