The presidents of France and America stood before the United Nations General Assembly for the very first time, outlining opposing positions on every detail.
While Trump promised the total annihilation of Iran, North Korea, and even Venezuela, Macron presented as a standard-bearer for democracy. The POTUS extolled the virtues of strength and nationalism, whereas the French president sang the praises of dialogue between nations. Trump stayed silent while his French counterpart lauded human rights — the cornerstone of the U.N. Macron did however refrain from directly criticizing China and Russia, the world’s two great flouters of democracy, and the two countries most disrupting international law.
Trump bellowed; Macron recited his text like an A-student. The Frenchman naturally received more applause than the American, especially when talking about the agreement to tackle climate change that most U.S. states have no intention of respecting. Africa was ignored by both leaders, despite the fact that the Congo is being ravaged by a war whose body count outstrips Syria, and that the largest U.N. military force is currently deployed in Ethiopia.
And neither Trump nor Macron acknowledged the guest list for this General Assembly, three-quarters of which was composed of dictators and kleptocrats. If the two presidents were seeking to make the U.N. less bureaucratic, they both failed to mention that this bureaucracy is largely maintained by the families of said dictators.
Makeup was another similarity between the two leaders. Trump had spent too long in the tanning salon, and Macron’s makeup artist had gone in with all guns blazing. It’s true we live in a time dictated by appearance and communication. But at the end of the day, if we prefer peace to war, Macron was the clear victor of this round.