The banner headline in today’s Washington Post declares, “Widening divisions as G-7 summit ends.” Below that headline is a picture of Emmanuel Macron looking at Trump, fist closed and held in Trump’s direction, with the U.S. president looking back at Macron with a bit of a frown.
This is fake news. If anything, the Trump-Macron press conferences was a “like fest.”
Neither president was at all belligerent. Macron frequently looked at Trump, probably for approval with various statements with which Trump had no reason to disapprove. Trump would sometimes respond with a slight nod of the head.
Trump almost never smiles when someone else is speaking. His default facial expression is the slight frown on display in the Post’s picture.
Macron closed his fist at times, but never in a way remotely hostile to Trump. He closed it for emphasis, typically when saying something to the effect of ‘we need to solve this or that problem together.’
The two presidents praised one another. At the end of the conference, they shook hands warmly and embraced twice. (The Columbus Dispatch, which published the Post’s story, has a picture that conveys the tenor of the press conference far more accurately than the Post’s picture, which appears on our home page next to this post).
The Post’s article, which it took four writers to churn out, fails to support the claim that divisions between the U.S. and other G-7 members are widening. In fact, Macron himself said the opposite during the press conference with Trump. He acknowledged that “there was a lot of nervousness at the outset, a lot of expectations, a lot of tension.” (Emphasis added) But by the end of the conference, he and his fellow leaders were “really keen. . .to convey a positive and joint message following our discussions.”
The Trump-despising Washington Post wants to convey the opposite message. But the best it can do in this regard is to assert that “many of the most pressing issues on the global agenda remain unresolved.”
At which past G-7 (or G-8) conference were a significant number of “the most pressing issues on the global agenda” resolved? None that I recall.
It’s true that the leaders almost always produce a “joint agreement” at the end of these meetings. This time, they produced only a one-page declaration. But the “joint agreements” seldom resolve “pressing issues on the global agenda.” What pressing issues were “resolved” in last year’s joint statement?
If the absence of a joint agreement this time shows anything other than a disdain for BS, it demonstrates that there are differences among the leaders, not that the differences “widened” at this year’s summit.
This year, the participants agreed on a plan to fund fire fighting efforts in the Amazon. France and the U.S. reached an agreement on the taxation of U.S. tech companies. The U.S. reached (or neared, depending on whom one believes) a trade agreement with Japan. Trump and the president of Iran both expressed a willingness to negotiate. And, according to Trump, trade talks between the U.S. and China have resumed.
That’s not bad for a long weekend.
The Post moans that Europe is stumbling towards a recession, Britain is close to leaving the EU with no deal, North Korea has restarted its missile testing program, relations between Japan and South Korea have broken down, and trade wars have broken out. There was no reason, though, to believe that any of these problems could be resolved at the summit. Some involve nations that weren’t even present in Biarritz.
Clearly, there are differences between Trump’s view of the world and the views of some G-7 leaders. Clearly, the Post wishes that Trump would cave to the desires of these foreign leaders.
But last year’s G-7 summit in Canada ended with President Trump leaving early and trying to “unsign” the joint agreement that had been reached. This year’s ended with evidence of progress, or possible progress, on several important fronts and a reasonably warm press conference featuring Trump and Macron.
To say that divisions widened at the summit is fake news.