Before the American colonists successfully completed their 18th
century revolt, and established the United States of America as a
sovereign nation, they had a major foreign power as an ally, the
French monarchy. It wasn’t liberte and egalite that drew the French
to our side then (although they were intrigued and charmed by our
representative in Paris, Benjamin Frankllin); it was our fight against
our British masters that brought our struggle to their attention.‘The
British were then the principle enemy of France on the European
continent, and any defeat for the British king was a victory for the
French king and his interests.
Most historians would agree that ultimately the French alliance
was a critical factor. A few years, and their own revolution later,
the French under Napoleon sold a lot of what comprises the U.S.
today for a few (but needed) millions of dollars. Still later in the
19th century, many French sympathized with the North in the U.S.
War (most of the British were on the South’s side), and three times
in the 20th century, France was our ally in major wars (WW 1,
WW 2 and Korea). Not to mention the Cold War.
Only in 1956 when U.S. President Eisenhower put the kibosh on
Franco-British attempt to take over the Suez Canal, did relations
cool. Although still bound as allies through the NATO Alliance
since 1949, the French have often taken their own diplomatic and
economic path since and up to the present day.
But a curious development has just occurred: the unpopular in
Europe U.S. President Trump and the maverick new French
President Emmanuel Macron have apparently formed what is being
called a “bromance” by some in the media. This is an unexpected
diplomatic turn when it is considered that the 70 year old Trump
might be the age of the 40 year old Macron’s grandfather, not to
mention M. Macron’s interests in elite French culture while Mr.
Trump is known for his affinity to American working class culture.
But their obvious differences belie more significant affinities.
Both are political outsiders who shocked their nations’ political
establishments, both are non-politicians who made their previous
successes in the business world, and both are disrupting national
bureaucratic orthodoxies. President Macron, it should be noted, is
fighting French labor unions and just established immigration rules
far more restrictive than any suggested by President Trump.
So once again U.S. interests and French interests coincide to bring
about cooperation and mutual benefits.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister
Theresa May are also leaders of nations allied in general with the
U.S., but they have apparently not yet discovered enough common
interests with Trump foreign policy to overcome their not-so-hidden
personal dislike of the American president.
It might prove costly for them not to do so --- and quickly. Only
France now has a friend in the White House.
Copyright (c) 2018 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.