In what sure looked like a cunning move, French President Emmanuel Macron waylaid “President” Biden just as he strolled near reporters, deep in conversation with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. The men were attending the G7 summit that was being held Monday in the Bavarian Alps of Germany.
In a video of the incident (below), Macron catches up to Biden, calling, “Joe? Mr. President?” He steps between Biden and Sullivan, takes Biden’s arm, and draws him to a halt, saying “Excuse me, sorry to interrupt.” Reuters reports the momentous news the French president then delivers:
“I had a call with MbZ,” Macron was heard telling U.S. President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the G7 summit, using shorthand for UAE leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan. “He told me two things. I’m at a maximum, maximum (production capacity). This is what he claims.”
“And then he said (the) Saudis can increase by 150 (thousands barrels per day). Maybe a little bit more, but they don’t have huge capacities before six months’ time,” Macron said.
Biden stood silently as Macron broke the news that there would be no significant help from the two last-hope OPEC+ nations, meaning the fuel crisis and the additional problems it causes would continue. At one point, Macron begins speaking to the other adults present, as people sometimes unconsciously do when the elderly person they are addressing seems too senile to comprehend. Finally, Biden makes a surprised expression, then says, “Yeah, [unintelligible],” and motions towards the waiting meeting.
But Macron forges ahead with his message. “The very last point is what to do in the Russian oil—” he manages to get out before Sullivan intercedes by saying “Okay.” The video cuts to the group posing for pictures, having been joined by several handlers who move everyone along. “We gotta keep on moving,” barks a woman.
Macron won’t be handled so easily. He steps in front of Biden, places his hand on the American’s shoulder to stop him, and keeps talking. Before he can get more than a few words out, Sullivan breaks it up. “Maybe we should just step inside,” he says to Macron, leaving the French president no option of continuing his debrief without looking like he is intentionally feeding a story to the media.
“Okay, okay, yeah, okay,” agrees Macron amicably before turning to lead the way.
In the last second of the clip, Sullivan leans over to Biden and says, “Sorry.”
Everything about Macron’s actions seems calculated. His hushed, urgent tone — the kind of tone that makes people perk up their ears because they know something consequential is being shared surreptitiously — is still loud enough to be recorded. Macron’s timing was impeccable, as was his deferential manner towards the president, puffing the puppet up by making it seem as though he were seeking the counsel of a great leader in times of trouble.
Nonetheless, it’s doubtful that Macron would actually be trying to humiliate Biden by rubbing his nose in his energy policy failure in front of the world’s reporters: without preserving at least the illusion that the United States is still a formidable superpower, France and the rest of the fancy folk may fall to the tender mercies of Russia, China, and the Middle East.
Europe is merely trying to replace the two million bpd of crude and the two million bdp of refined oil it had been importing from Russia before the war broke out. It’s more likely that Macron was trying to shame our fearless leader into injecting some sanity back into American energy policy. But whether he has any more hope of loosening the greens’ death grip on Washington than anyone else is, sadly, unlikely.