September 17th, 2021


The easy riders take a fall at the summit

Wesley Pruden

By Wesley Pruden

Published May 30, 2017

With not much going on at the G-7 summit, and everyone waiting for Donald Trump to say whether he would abandon one of his most fervent campaign promises, social media could turn its attention to the trifling, the piddling and the picayune. People magazine might not have been there, but Bloomberg News waxed poetic with the skinny:

"On a sun-kissed terrace overlooking the sea, the image of Emmanuel Macron and Justin Trudeau staring into each other's eyes had social media swooning over the budding bromance between the two young leaders of the Group of Seven in Sicily."

Just what a "bromance" is, beyond the not-so-clever wordplay, sounds like too much information, something you ought not to want to know about. It's no doubt overheated reporting by a reporter who never had an editor to teach him the rewards of restraint.

But romance was clearly in the air, not between the leaders of France and Canada, but by reporters nurtured not on the rough edges of politics and discipline of newspapers, but by too much time spent watching soap operas, as in this further Bloomberg account of the news:

"At his debut on the world stage, the new French president revealed a steeliness that belies his 39 years and relative inexperience. There was the power play with [President] Trump when during the war of handshakes ["Macron crushed Donald Trump's hand until his knuckles turned white"] he spoke at some length in French with no translator. He then spoke with Theresa May in English, offering co-operation in light of the United Kingdom terror attack, while not ceding an inch on the prime minister's request for parallel Brexit talks."

The French imagine a revival of the onetime dominance of their language - the director-general of the European Union insists he sees English fading as the language that bestrides the world - and the new French president wants to extend the style and tone of his honeymoon on the world stage.

But in spite of all those deep looks into the eyes of certain of his new colleagues, good luck with that. He inherited an unemployment rate twice that of the oft-despised British and the haughty Germans, with an economy continuing to lag behind the rest of Europe, and with a formidable task ahead of putting together a parliamentary majority after next month's elections. Why wouldn't he like to extend a Sicilian idyll?

He inherited the French disdain for what de Gaulle called, with a sour curl of the Gallic lip, "the Anglo-Saxons." It's in the French DNA. He took particular delight, not bothering to disguise it, in telling Theresa May that he and the rest of Europe would make leaving the EU as difficult as they can make it, and being particularly adamant with President Trump that there will be no diluting the Paris agreement on "climate change" to accommodate the United States.

Paolo Gentiloni, the Italian prime minister and host of the G-7 summit, chimed in to say that he was sure that Mr. Trump would take some time for "internal reflection" before deciding whether to withdraw from the Paris agreement.

The Europeans are always on the scout for opportunities to bring America down closer to their size, and the Donald will no doubt have to decide whether he will take further heat for resisting the global-warming scam or take the humiliation of running to the high weeds just to escape the condescending fury of France, Italy and the lesser Europeans.

These summits of the economically powerful are particularly popular with the leaders of the not-so-powerful, because for four or five days they're treated as equals. For one brief shining hour, there's no children's table.

"Justin [Trudeau] has been inspiring," M. Macron said of his Canadian counterpart. "We belong to a generation of leaders that will deeply renew practices and a vision of global affairs." But just how, he did not say.

Mr. Trudeau, 45, says he was excited to have "someone even younger and more dynamic than me" at the G-7 table. The video cameras caught them exchanging chatter about kids - Mr. Trudeau's three children, and the grandchildren of M. Macron's wife, 24 years his senior.

But a bromance, after all, is merely a bromance.

Nobody wanted a bromance with Donald Trump in Sicily, but he was the dominant force, as the American president always is, at this summit.

The Europeans are getting the Trump word that the days of the easy rider are over. Angela Merkel, after her meeting with Mr. Trump, told her colleagues that the reliable relationships forged since the end of World War II "are to some extent, over."

By reliable, she means one-sided. Not a day too soon.

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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.