How Macron gave Trump — and Trudeau — a lesson in the uses of power

Macron’s intervention between the U.S. and Iran was an example of practical diplomacy in action

To most observers, it was dramatic, impressive political theatre.

And even if France’s bold gambit to drag the United States and Iran back from the brink of war fails (as many of those same observers predict it will), it was a vivid expression of global power — the kind Canada has the desire, but perhaps not the capacity, to exert.

In 2015, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau eagerly declared that Canada had returned to the world stage after a decade of Conservative government.

“Many of you have worried that Canada has lost its compassionate and constructive voice in the world over the past 10 years,” Trudeau said the day after the election. “Well, I have a simple message for you. On behalf of 35 million Canadians, we’re back.”

To the Liberal government’s credit, it has taken leadership roles in a few key hotspots or potential flashpoints — Iraq and Latvia in particular.

Through his chairmanship of the Group of Seven (G7) in 2018, Trudeau was centre stage on two of the most important global social justice and environmental issues of our time: gender equality and halting the alarming loss of biodiversity due to climate change.

But those issues call for policy initiatives that will take a generation — or more — to bear fruit.

French President Emanuel Macron — described by some commentators as Trudeau’s kindred spirit among world leaders — embraced those measures. But he also used his chairmanship of this past weekend’s G7 gathering in Biarritz to deploy French power with dramatic flair in an attempt to get U.S. President Donald Trump and Iran’s Hassan Rouhani in the same room to cut a deal on Iran’s nuclear program.


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