Captivity, Inequality, Familiarity

French President Emmanuel Macron paid a visit to the United States, where Joe Biden as White House head received him for the first time. The French leader’s visit was intended to solve a mountain of problems that have accumulated in bilateral relations and not just there.

Washington first offended Paris a year ago when, following the creation of the US military and political bloc AUKUS (which has an explicit anti-Chinese orientation), Australia, which joined it, broke a deal with France for the supply of submarines worth $63 billion. Since Paris refused to participate in the anti-China alliance, the loss of the contract may have been perceived as punishment for disobeying Washington.

Next came a crisis in Western relations with Russia, in which Paris and the EU adopted a position that was as much in line with the US as possible. However, in the energy crisis that followed the political one, it emerged that US liquefied natural gas (LNG) was almost four times more expensive for the EU than for US consumers. And the latest blow to US-EU relations was the US Anti-Inflation Act, which provides $360 billion in subsidies to US industry. “I think it contradicts World Trade Organisation norms and is unfriendly”, is how Macron characterised the US law.

At the same time, the range of instruments that the Europeans could use to influence the US is very limited. They cannot refuse American LNG, and the EU cannot start a trade war with the US (by imposing duties on American goods or subsidising industry) because of internal divisions. Macron had only to try to charm Biden by reminding him of the importance of shared values and to hope for goodwill from the Americans.

It is no secret that the national economic support programme envisaged by the recent US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is a major concern not only in France but also in other EU countries, especially Germany, because it gives substantial benefits to producers operating in the US jurisdiction, which along with the difference in energy availability (in terms of price and physically) can cause and has caused significant migration of big businesses from Europe to America. This includes jobs, taxes and much more.

So Macron went across the ocean to discuss on behalf of France and the entire European Union the burning question of who, to whom, how much and for what will have to pay in the framework of the anti-Russian and anti-Chinese “alliance of democracies”. As it turned out during the special military operation, this very democracy is very expensive. And a lot of people simply cannot afford it. Already sitting in the dark, calculating what is better today: to eat or get warm, citizens of the countries that have become unfriendly to Russia, already feel it.

Biden talks to Macron
President Biden toasted French President Emmanuel Macron during the first state dinner of his presidency on December 1, 2022

In a sense, Macron did not only represent France and Europe in Washington. He also represented what is conventionally called the “French branch of the Rothschild clan” and now, following the death of Elizabeth II and Evelyn de Rothschild, head of the “British branch of the Rothschild clan” and growing problems with major German banks, claims to be strengthening their already leading role in world finance.

In addition, just before his visit, Macron hosted Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who flew to Paris directly from Moscow, where he had held talks with Vladimir Putin. Although it was officially stated that the Russian leader did not pass any special information to Macron through Tokayev, the ultimate recipient of this “political relay” may well have been the US president.

At any rate, the meeting in Washington was marked by a sudden change in rhetoric on Biden’s part. Suddenly he said he was ready to discuss the possibility of ending the conflict in Ukraine “with Mr Putin, if he really shows an interest in ending the war”. There was no way for it to be written off as coincidence, as the US president had warned just before this phrase that he was “choosing his words carefully”.

Then, of course, it was clarified that by “a real expression of interest” from Putin, Biden meant the complete withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine, that the principle of “nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine” was still in place, and that support for Kiev from the US and its allies would continue “as long and as much as necessary”, but what’s done is done.

And this seemed to be a confirmation of the simple and immutable fact that the US will not pay Ukraine and Europe more than it sees fit, and the latter are dissatisfied and wish to raise the price for their anti-Russian services, then Washington can start direct negotiations with Moscow at any time, leaving all “allies” in the cold, hungry and without weapons. Therefore, the best course of action for them is not to try to “push for rights”, but to do as they are told.

At a press conference, in response to a French Presse reporter’s question about the outcome of negotiations on US subsidies, Biden conceded that the law “may have glitches and will require reconciliation and changes”, but that it is, in fact, aimed at US technological independence. “The US does not apologise, and I, the author of this law, will not apologise,” Biden said.

While Macron did not dare to contradict the White House head during his visit, he criticised the US administration’s inflation-lowering initiatives as well as other grievances against Washington immediately after the visit.

In an interview with the US TV channel CBS, he said that consumers in the EU states have to pay high price for energy supplies from the USA, which negatively affects the competitiveness of European countries and impacts international relations. He pointed out that once the situation around Ukraine is resolved, Europe will be weaker because most of its industry will simply be killed off.

Macron also expressed dissatisfaction that the outcome of the US presidential election was creating unpredictability in their relations with other countries. “I want us to be allies, I want us to be friends, I want us to be partners. I want to engage with the US, but I don’t want to be dependent,” he explained.

Speaking about the situation in Ukraine, Macron stressed: “We are fully engaged in this war together in the name of the same principles. But the price of this war is not the same across the Atlantic Ocean”.

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