French President Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel are making back-to-back visits to the White House to persuade US President Donald Trump, not to renege on the Iran nuclear deal.
The risible love-in between Trump and Macron has overshadowed the serious issues at stake for the Middle East over the 2015 agreement. But if anyone can persuade Trump to see that it is better to fix the deal rather than break it, it is the Frenchman known as the “Trump Whisperer”.
While the sight of Trump taking Macron’s hand as he propelled him to the Oval Office appeared bizarre or even laughable, it revealed the extent to which Macron is prepared to go to gain influence in Washington.
Macron clearly recognises that treating Trump as an outcast in international politics would be counterproductive, even if they are poles apart philosophically. Merkel, who arrives in Washington today, has still to learn this lesson.
So far, her contacts with Trump have been cool, to say the least. When Merkel visited the White House in March of last year, Trump declined an invitation to shake her hand. She impassively accepted that.
Two months later, when Macron visited, he insisted on shaking the US president’s hands, whether he wanted it or not. Unlike Merkel, that makes Macron a mover as well as a shaker in international politics.