The new president of France, Emmanuel Macron, has spoken directly to the American people in response to Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Accord, an international agreement to fight global warming. Here is Macron's message:
A very good short speech. I suspect that he deliberately used migration as an example of one of the bad consequences of climate change. For those who are anti-immigration (and they are legion in both the US and France), they hear their own position which is that migration is a bad thing. Thus, fighting climate change is also a battle against immigration. But for the supporters of immigration (or the immigrants themselves) they can assume that Macron was referring to "forced migrations" due to climate change. Very deft.
The most interesting part of the speech (to me anyway) was his call to American entrepreneurs, scientists. and researchers to "come and work here [France]." That might seem to be a complete contradiction to how the French feel about about migration these days. But note that he did not use the word "immigrate." Nor did he mention anything about integration. He did not extol the virtues of French life, language, and culture as reasons to come to the Hexagon. Macron implies that this is a "come as you are" migration party for the lucky few who fall into the category of "highly skilled migrant." France wants their degrees, their research, and their entrepreneurial skills and in exchange they are being offered honor, support, and recognition. A powerful benediction in which the words "migrant" and immigrant" will never be used because these are the kind of "quality foreigners" that even an anti-immigrant country is happy to welcome.
What is particularly noteworthy about this is that it is rare to see such a public invitation to the citizens of another country coming from the highest levels of the government. Yes, many countries have programs to attract the highly-skilled but you don't see the Prime Minister of Japan holding a press conference to personally invite French or Germans to bring their talents to the land of the rising sun. Migrant recruitment (and, yes, they are migrants) exists but it is discreet. It is as if there were an unspoken agreement among developed nations that, yes, countries can try to skim off the cream of another country's citizens as long as they aren't too obvious about it and the trickle of brains leaving one country for another does not become a flood.
So what Macron said was very daring - an in-your-face shot fired against the Trump administration. But I'd say that there is very little risk involved. The Trump administration is very unpopular in France and the United States and Macron will only gain politically at home by taking Trump on. And how he did it is fascinating. Macron has used the Internet/social media to bypass the American president completely and to address the American people directly in fluent English. And what does the world see when it watches this contest? A young, dynamic leader running circles around a tired, bewildered, old man.