DEIRDRE SHESGREEN | USA TODAY
President Donald Trump and President Emmanuel Macron of France have toasted to continued warm relations between their countries. (April 24)
WASHINGTON — Without directly rebuking President Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday called on American politicians to reject the president’s America first policies and construct a “new breed of multilateralism” equipped to confront urgent global threats — from climate change to terrorism.
In adroitly crafted remarks that leaned on emotional appeals and shared history to challenge the Republican-led Congress, Macron said the United States and France had a “unique taste for freedom” and were therefore obligated to join together to fight extremism, racism, inequality and environmental degradation across the globe.
JARRAD HENDERSON, USA TODAY NETWORK
“Both in the United States and in Europe, we are living in a time of anger and fear because of these current global threats,” Macron told a joint session of Congress. “You can play with fears and angers for a time. But they do not construct anything. Anger only freezes and weakens us.”
Macron credited the United States with inventing multilateralism, and said: “You are the one now who has to help to preserve and reinvent it ... We can build the 21st century world order based on a new breed multilateralism, based on a more effective, accountable, and results-oriented multilateralism."
The French president’s appeal to U.S. lawmakers, and the broader American public, came as he wrapped up a three-day visit to the U.S. that included diplomatic stagecraft and closed-door negotiations with Trump over everything from the U.S. involvement in Syria to the fate of the Iran nuclear accord.
Macron came away from the meetings saying he believes it’s likely President Trump will pull the United States out of the Iran nuclear agreement.
“That’s my bet,” Macron told a small group of American journalists.
Macron said he doesn’t have any “inside information” about what Trump will decide but “I think there is a big risk he will leave.”
Such a decision is predictable, he added, because Trump previously made good on a campaign pledge to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement, and he has also been hostile to the Iran accord signed during the Obama administration.
Macron strongly supports both pacts.
In his address to lawmakers on Wednesday, Macron talked warmly of his special relationship with Trump, while predicting the U.S. would eventually reverse Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. He echoed Trump’s concerns about the Iran nuclear accord, while declaring France would not withdraw from it and warning against inflaming new conflict in the Middle East.
And he acknowledged that globalization has created economic and societal anxieties across the world, but said a retreat from trade and engagement was not the answer.
“Closing the door to the world will not stop the evolution,” he said.
Macron reserved his strongest appeal for addressing climate change, challenging Congress to come to terms with the overwhelming science showing the planet is warming.
“We are killing our planet. Let us face it,” he said. “There is no planet B.”
Despite Macron's pleas, Trump announced last summer that he was withdrawing from the Paris agreement, a global pact that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions stemming from the burning of fossil fuels.
Macron said Wednesday the split between France and the U.S. over the Paris agreement was a “short-term” problem.
“In the long run, we will have to face the same realities and we’re just citizens of the same planet,” the French leader said. “I’m sure one day the United States will come back and join the Paris agreement and I’m sure we can work together to fulfill with you the ambitions of the global compact on the environment.”
Macron also urged the U.S. to stay engaged in Syria and not to walk away from the Iran nuclear agreement.
Macron noted that France and the U.S. have the same goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and argued they would be better served by working together to strengthen it.
“We should not abandon it without having something … more substantial instead,” Macron said. He also suggested that abandoning the deal could further destabilize the Middle East.
“Let us not replicate past mistakes in the region,” Macron said in a likely reference to the Iraq war. “Let us not create new wars ourselves.”
Lawmakers in both parties welcomed Macron's emotive speech, if not his specific policy pleas. His pitch for multilateralism as the only way to preserve the America and France's long shared democratic ideals resonated in a Congress that is otherwise deeply polarized and partisan.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, even compared Macron to Sen. John McCain, the Arizona senator and one-time GOP presidential nominee who is battling cancer.
“In President Macron’s speech about preserving the post-World War II world order and rejecting the false promises of isolationism, I heard the voice of John McCain – an ally and kindred spirit for the thoughts expressed by President Macron," Graham said in a statement after Macron's speech.
Contributing: Bill Sternberg
Originally Published 5 hours ago
Updated 0 minutes ago