It isn’t the first first time that Europe had had to deal with a horde of barbarian invaders intent on destroying its values and plundering its economy.
Nonetheless, the arrival of Donald Trump and his retinue at the annual G-7 summit in Biarritz, France had much of the same hostility as those previous attacks.
With Trump beginning the gathering of the world’s greatest economic powers already set to escalate his trade wars — announcing that he would apply tariffs to all Chinese imports and increase those already in place while “ordering” American companies to cease doing business with the nation’s top trading partner — French President Emmanuel Macron tried to drag the world back from the brink of economic disaster by deescalating the trade conflicts and emphasizing the importance of cooperation in combating the climate crisis.
Senior Trump administration officials didn’t make Macron’s task any easier by insisting that his attempt to shift the conversation from trade to the climate emergency was trying “to fracture the G-7” by isolating the U.S. — ignoring the fact that the isolation was self-initiated and that they were simply trying to hijack the meeting’s agenda for their own purposes.
The French president denied any negative motivations, saying in a video address that he was merely trying to lower the temperature of the trade conflicts, now as hot as the globe’s hottest summer ever.
“Trade tensions are bad for everyone, we have to try to get a de-escalation, to stabilize things to avoid this trade war that is happening everywhere,” Macron explained.
Another French official was amazed that the Trump administration was seemingly unable to discuss more than one topic at a time — as if they were one-armed jugglers.
“It’s also not either-or — it’s not either climate or trade, it’s both,” the official said. “So trade was always a part of the agenda, just like inequalities, climate and digital are topics we can’t afford to exclude from a summit like this — topics that are as important to public opinion.”
With France as the host nation for this round of the G-7 meeting, Macron’s decision to not even bother to try to issue a joint communique at the end of this weekend’s conclave was seen by administration officials as an attempt to make the U.S. seem isolated in its stances.
It is not true that, because we are avoiding a communiqué, we are not seeking consensus. Communiqués always reflect the lowest common denominator — instead we are looking to build a consensus as large as possible,” a French official said.
A large consensus is unlikely when it entails negotiating with an American president who cannot even be trusted to remember his host’s name.
Hours after struggling to remember Emmanuel Macron name during a pre-G7 media availability, Trump butchers Macron's first and last names on Twitter. pic.twitter.com/YNpXAd0Gya
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 24, 2019
Of course, a collapsing American-European alliance at the G-7 meeting is exactly the result desired by the Russian president exiled from the proceedings, proving that the time, effort, and money that Putin dedicated to helping elect Donald Trump is paying off far beyond his wildest dreams.
The G-7 summit is likely to produce even more notable conflicts between Trump and his European counterparts — the people who once could be called America’s allies.
Keep checking back for the latest updates as the day progresses.
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Original reporting by Hans Von Der Burchard, Rym Momtaz, and Gabby Orr at Politico.