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Emmanuel Macron: A Voice of Reason Amidst Fire and Fury
by Rene Wadlow
2018-05-04 08:35:24
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The State visit of the French President Emmanuel Macron was filled with symbolic good will as had been President Trump's visit to France for the 14 July National Day in 2017.  Macron in his year in office has become a powerful voice on the European stage.  In his hour-long address to the US Congress he warned against the currents of extreme nationalism with its anger and fears and the temptation of isolation and withdrawal.

macron000001_400There were two main issues on the agenda: the tariffs on European steel and aluminum and the continuation of the US waiver on Iranian sanctions.  The issue of tariffs is likely to  be settled with a compromise reached among trade specialists  as a "trade war" would be to the advantage of neither the US nor the European Union.  Reaching agreement on Middle East policy and action is  likely to be more difficult.

The meetings in Washington were held against the backdrop of armed conflicts in the wider Middle East: Syria-Kurdistan-Turkey, Yemen, increased tensions between Israel and its neighbors, and the role of Saudi Arabia and Iran.  Part of the play concerns the continuation of economic sanctions waiver of the USA against Iran. These must be renewed every six months, and President Trump must renew, or not, by 12 May.  The Iran nuclear agreement (officially the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) would be seriously weakened, if not destroyed, by a US withdrawal.  The other States party: France-Germany-UK, coordinated by the European Union secretariat, as well as Russia and China have been urging in different ways for the US to uphold the Iran agreement. All recognize that the accord is not the end of the play and that other acts will follow.  However, the first act was long and repetitious, and few want to start in again at the first act.

President Trump now has Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State and John Bolton as National Security Advisor, both of whom in the past in other capacities, have suggested military action against Iran nuclear facilities. The Joint Comprehensive Plan can continue despite a US withdrawal, but the Plan would be seriously weakened.

The lifting of economic sanctions against Iran has been slow.  European companies have been fearful to invest fearing a renewal of US economic sanctions.  The standard of living of the majority of Iranians has not improved.  "Hard liners" in Iran are saying that the agreement has not lived up to expectations.  Some are suggesting that Iran withdraw and return to its nuclear-weapon program.

In his pubic statements President Trump has maintained his criticism of the Iranian nuclear accord.  To what extent his views on the accord have been modified by the visits of Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel we do not know.  As the representatives of non-governmental organizations devoted to conflict resolution in the Middle East, we must be prepared to uphold the accord in even more difficult conditions if President Trump does not renew the sanctions waiver. The curtain on the next act will go up shortly.


Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

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