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#Politico: Macron: The grand master of grandstanding

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Monday, 04 March, 2024, 22:30
#Politico: Macron: The grand master of grandstanding

There he goes again, another headline-grabbing statement from French President Emmanuel Macron.

“Nothing should be ruled out,” he said last week , responding to a question about whether NATO countries might send troops to help defend Ukraine. “Anything is possible if it is useful to reach our goal,” he added. “Russia cannot win this war.”

Made quite deliberately after a meeting of European leaders to discuss how to help Ukraine, the French president’s statement exploded like a bombshell.

And that may have been the point.

Macron likes to throw rhetorical bombs every now and then. Remember how he once talked of the “brain death of NATO” only weeks before a leader summit convened in London? Or how, he urged the West to “not humiliate Russia” three months into its brutal invasion of Ukraine?

Each of these statements raised eyebrows in the West’s corridors of power. And yet, most of the time, the French president’s statements were dismissed as little more than grandstanding — much like his trips to Moscow and his frequent calls to Russian President Vladimir Putin in a fruitless attempt to forestall, and then halt, Russia’s invasion.

This is because such attempts have been little more than vain shots at claiming a leadership role — as French presidents have been wont to do. Charles de Gaulle, for example, made a career out of it, withdrawing France from NATO’s military command (knowing full well that the U.S. would still need to defend the country if Europe came under attack). He then also deployed a nuclear force that would deter threats “tous azimuts,” as if Britain and America posed as large a threat to France as the Soviet Union.

Years later, Nicolas Sarkozy made a similar move. Convening a meeting at the Elysée to discuss the civil war in Libya, he announced — without any warning — that French planes had already taken off to bomb then Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s forces, which were threatening the city of Benghazi.

“France has decided to assume its role, its role before history,” Sarkozy proudly proclaimed. However, within days, NATO had to take over an operation that French forces were simply unable to carry out alone.

And now Macron has taken up the mantle of the grand master in grandstanding.

Last year, the French president traveled to Bratislava just before another NATO summit, where he told Eastern European dignitaries that they’d been right about Putin all along, and that France would now lead the effort to get Ukraine into NATO. Of course, he did so knowing full well that both Berlin and Washington would prevent such a thing from happening anytime soon.