Outgoing French Ambassador to the US Gerard Araud has compared the Donald Trump administration to the court of King Louis XIV, filled with courtiers trying to interpret the caprices of a “whimsical, unpredictable, uninformed” leader.
Araud, who retired on Friday after a 37-year career that included some of the top jobs in French diplomacy, told the Guardian that Trump’s unpredictability and his single-minded interpretation of US interests was leaving the administration isolated on the global stage.
Talking about the Trump administration, Araud said: “It’s like (trying) to analyze the court of Louis XIV. You have an old king, a bit whimsical, unpredictable, uninformed, but he wants to be the one deciding.”
Like the Sun King who dominated France in the 17th and 18th centuries, Trump “doesn’t want to appear under any influence and he wants to show it”, according to Araud, who had been France’s Ambassador to Washington since 2014.
“When they say ‘America first’, it’s America alone. Basically, this President and this administration don’t have allies, don’t have friends. It’s really (about) bilateral relationships on the basis of the balance of power and the defence of narrow American interest.”
Araud called the current situation in the US as the opposite extreme of the “meticulous” decision-making process pursued by the previous administration.
“(Barack) Obama was the ultimate bureaucrat: you know every night he was going to bed with 60 pages and in the morning they were coming back all annotated by the President.
“For decisions such as the troop surge in Afghanistan, there were months of meetings between the relevant government departments.”
Araud also cautioned the UK against expecting any special treatment from Washington in post-Brexit trade talks, predicting that the administration would force London to accept the US imports on their own terms.