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20 Sep 2017

UNGA session: Is Macron pitting himself as 'anti-Trump?'

US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron delivered their first speeches in the UN General Assembly, during its 72nd annual session.

Their speeches were poles apart in terms of the subject matter.

While Trump seemed to be vouching for destruction, Macron's speech took a rather liberal tone highlighting aspects, including free speech and climate change.

Is Macron pitting himself as anti-Trump?

In context

UNGA 2017: Macron shines compared to Trump
North Korea: Destruction versus dialogue


North Korea: Destruction versus dialogue

Stating that "the rocket man [Kim Jong-un] is on a suicide mission," Trump threatened to destroy North Korea if necessary.

Taking a different approach, Macron said, that the world leaders, including China should put pressure on Pyongyang "to bring it to the negotiating table for settlement."

"France will reject any escalation and will not close any port of dialogue if conditions are met," he added.


On the Iran nuclear deal

According to Macron, denouncing the Iran deal would be a "grave error."

"Denouncing it would be irresponsible because it is a good agreement that is essential to keeping peace," he added.

Decrying the deal, Trump had said, "Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the US has ever entered into." He called it "an embarrassment to the US."

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How do they prefer to fight terrorism?

Macron classified the fight against terrorism as one that is "military, educational, cultural and moral." Focusing on a military angle, Trump had said that the US and its allies are fighting in the Middle East to prevent emergence of safe havens where terrorists launch attacks from.

Who cares about climate change?

Climate change

Who cares about climate change?

Recent statements from the White House have indicated that the Trump administration may be re-visiting its decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement.

However, Trump's UNGA address did not make a single reference to climate change.

On a poetic note, Macron highlighted that the future of the world depends on the planet's future.

He sternly conveyed that the agreement "will not be re-negotiated."

Free speech: Macron highlights what Trump left out

While Trump didn't mention free speech at all, Macron stated that it is the duty of the UN to protect the freedom of "those who think, reflect, speak out." He urged the UN to appoint a special representative to protect freedom of press.

Refugees & immigrants

Stances diverge widely on immigration

Macron conveyed that France intends on playing an important role in addressing the European migrant crisis and stressed on its moral and political duty to provide asylum.

Sticking to "America First," Trump had said, "For the cost of resettling 1 refugee in the United States, we can settle more than ten in their home region."

Trump had offered financial assistance to countries which host refugees.

Author's take

Making sense of General Assembly speechess

World leaders have historically used the UNGA platform for image-building and often offer highly idealistic solutions to solve global challenges.

In practice, these are far from the policies the leaders pursue on behalf of their countries.

While Trump's approach was rather straightforward, Macron seems to have used the opportunity to pit himself as a leader.

An overall anti-Trump sentiment seems to have helped Macron shine.

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