The world is changing, as the U.S. administration looks to move forward the interests of the U.S. first, making old alliances and agreements up for renegotiation. Trump has already discussed at length the issues he has with the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, which has caused concern that the U.S. may pull out of the agreement.
Another agreement that the U.S. has withdrawn from appears to be a global effort on climate change, known as the Paris climate accords. European leaders have bristled at his “America First” rhetoric and his blunt criticism of NATO allies. Yet during his visit to Paris, President Emmanuel Macron and President Trump seemed to be warming to each other, despite significantly different world views.
“Trump, bristling at German criticism, has repeatedly lashed out over Berlin’s trade and current account surpluses,” noted Politico’s Nicholas Vinocur. “Which leaves Macron – who’s also been critical of Germany’s trade position, and who’s vowed to bring French defense spending up to NATO’s target of 2% of gross domestic product – as the obvious dance partner for the U.S. while Trump is in Europe.”
Both leaders chose to focus on areas where they both agree, including military cooperation in the fight against ISIS. Yet, terrorism itself is a touchy subject, as Trump has made comments about Paris being a terrorists’ paradise. He also said that Paris has been ruined by the threat of terrorism, which he ties to immigration. France has seen an increase in its immigrant population in recent years, due to multiple conflicts and events throughout the Middle East and other regions in Africa.
“President Macron obviously went out of his way to make sure he didn’t say anything to antagonize President Trump,” said Spencer Phipps Boyer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former Obama administration official. “I think this contrasts with Chancellor Merkel. Obviously, both Macron and Merkel have been very clear on their differences with the United States.”
The Middle East and the various conflicts there are also a source of tension among European allies and the U.S. There seems to be less consensus on how to handle Iran, Syria, and the current blockade of Qatar. Additionally, Paris is the home of many National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) members and Iranian expats, making the city a source of frustration to the current regime. Paris also hosted the recent “Free Iran” gathering earlier this month, where the focus was not on building up the regime, but peaceful regime change to create a democratic Iran.
Increasing droughts and other extreme weather, thought to be the product of climate change, are worsening migration crises and conflicts are increasing in regions with limited resources. President Macron encouraged Trump to reconsider his stance on the climate change issue, pointing out that fighting climate change could impact terrorism.