NATO, Macron and the Donald

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Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump got together at the NATO summit in London this week, after the former called the intergovernmental military alliance ‘brain dead’.

It was bound to be awkward between the two, who always had a love-hate relationship. On NATO, they were meant to agree: – Trump had famously criticised NATO’s spending and Macron ha recently caused shockwaves among diplomats when he called out the organisation for being almost redundant.

But a press conference between the two proved brutal for Macron. At one point, the French president gave one of his long, winding answers to a journalist’s question and the US president jumped in saying this was why Macron was a great politician. “That was the greatest non-answer I’ve ever heard,” he quipped.

But Macron still went to pains to explain to Trump that he agrees with his concerns on NATO’s spending. And despite there being no love lost between the two leaders, they seemed to agree that NATO has issues that it cannot keep running away from.

Trump had long been considered one of NATO’s biggest critics, but he defended the intergovernmental alliance when he came face-to-face with the French President. Trump had once infamously called out NATO for being “obsolete” during his campaign trail and has criticised its spending. Some have pointed out that the US president has not yet managed to grasp how NATO gets or handles its financing.

Whether the US President has understood how the intergovernmental military alliance, which comprises 29 different countries, works is still unclear. But the turnaround from critic to staunch defender took many by surprise, especially Macron.

Trump, however, seemed impressed that spending by allies was up, after the NATO secretary general said spending will grow to $400 billion by 2024.

For the first 48 hours of the NATO summit in London, Trump could not stop gushing about how well NATO was doing and how proud he was that the US was part of it.

Ironically, Trump derided Macron for his less-than-favourable comments on NATO, saying he was “nasty” for calling the organisation “braindead”. Journalists in the room did a double-take, according to a Politico correspondent.

Trump then went further, implying France was a failed state. He criticised how the French authorities handled the yellow vests protests and criticised their economy.

However, even after that brutal press conference, the two seemed to be getting along.

Trump and Macron always seemed to have a love-hate relationship, and you really never know what you’re going to get with those two. One moment they’re arguing over NATO spending, the next they’re seen having a bromance at a reception for leaders in Buckingham Palace.

Denise Grech 

CiConsulta / Corporate Dispatch (Brussels) 

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