• Emmanuel Macron will be in the United States all week for a "state visit", the highest level of protocol expected for a foreign leader.

  • If diplomatic relations between France and the United States are very old, Brexit and the role of Paris in Europe partly explain why Americans are so keen to maintain good relations with the French, according to historian Nicole Bacharan and the specialist in international relations Karim Emile Bitar.

  • But not all of Washington's allies have the right to such consideration...

Arriving in Washington on Monday evening, Emmanuel Macron will perpetuate what could be called a tradition of international relations.

Like all the presidents of the Fifth Republic before him, with the notable exception of Nicolas Sarkozy, the French head of state will be received on a “state visit” to the United States.

Better still, it will be the second for him, after that of 2018, an honor that only Xi Jinping has received over the past fifteen years.

In eight years, France is therefore preparing to accumulate three of the six state visits organized by the White House.

“It is not a simple meeting, but the summit of the diplomatic ritual in the American republic”, explains historian Nicole Bacharan to

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If the agenda remains unclear (see box), a welcome to the sound of cannon at the White House is planned, as well as "a large dinner, with many guests chosen especially for their interests with France", specifies the US specialist.

"It's a way for Joe Biden to honor France," she adds.

From Louisiana to Lebanon, a bromance and common interests

If Emmanuel Macron has the right to these honors, it is first of all because France is a particularly pampered ally across the Atlantic.

The privileged relationship began as early as the War of Independence, with the personal commitment of the Marquis de Lafayette, then with the sale of Louisiana by Napoleon in 1803. These links were then "reinforced with the two world wars", then the cooperation within NATO.

At the top of this agreement, "there was a moment of solidarity after September 11, Jacques Chirac immediately went to Washington," says the historian.

And even if this bromance almost crashed on the war in Iraq, “we picked up the pieces”.

But how did France become a special partner in the eyes of the Americans?

Despite such a close and historic relationship, "the choice of Brexit and a unilateral policy was not well seen by the Democrats", deciphers for

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Karim Emile Bitar, director of research at the Institute of international and strategic relations (Iris) and specialist in US foreign policy.

“France and the United States have common interests in the Gulf”, he also advances, citing the Lebanese file on which “the United States relies on France to avoid an even more serious crisis”.

According to him, there are “ideological affinities, a desire to share roles and a certain complementarity” between the two countries.

Golds of the Republic, Champions of Democracy

The United States "have the same messianic vocation to carry the values ​​of democracy" as France, abounds Nicole Bacharan.

It is moreover the form of the American and French democracies themselves which explain why Emmanuel Macron has the right to the rare honor of a “State visit”.

“From a protocol point of view, France has a President of the Republic who is head of state and

de facto head of government.

 “, notes the historian.

"To have the full deployment of the Republican protocol in all its glory, you need a head of state who governs, a presidential or semi-presidential regime", which not all countries have.

Thus, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had only the right to an "official visit" in September 2019. Similarly, Olaf Scholz and Rishi Sunak are not heads of state.

But under the gilding and pageantry, this visit is also "a real working meeting" between allies.

In the context of the war in Ukraine, “it is important to consolidate this relationship at a time when Russia is looking for allies in Europe”, points out Karim Emile Bitar.

Since Brexit, France has thus played a key role within the European Union to maintain a position as aligned as possible with the United States.

"Even Obama has returned to campaign against Brexit" after delegating Europe to a secretary of state to focus on Asia, "because the Americans have no other reliable allies outside of China and of South Korea, in another context”, supports Nicole Bacharan.

Fix the Australian affront

The Paris-Washington relationship is such a fixed point that Emmanuel Macron was one of the only two leaders officially received by Donald Trump.

The opportunity to plant a tree, symbol of friendship, in the garden of the White House.

This did not prevent the Republican from leaving the Paris climate agreement, nor the Iranian nuclear agreement.

With Joe Biden, “there is a marked improvement” and a “renewal of multilateralism”, underlines Karim Emile Bitar, who insists on the role of a “Francophile and Francophone” Anthony Blinken.

The story got off to a bad start, however, with the Australian submarine crisis.

“The French were sickened by the betrayal and rudeness of the Americans, who negotiated behind their backs at the G20.

The state visit must have been in the pipeline from that moment on, to appease the offense,” said Nicole Bacharan, calling Joe Biden “an old hand in diplomacy”.

“Symbolically, by rolling out the red carpet, it is a way of definitively turning the page” of this incident, adds Karim Emile Bitar.

And to prolong the bromance between the two champions of democracy.


Biden will receive Macron at the White House for a state visit on December 1


Submarine crisis: First meeting between Biden and Macron in Rome this Friday since the incident

Exchanges with China but also the war in Ukraine will of course be on the program of this state visit.

But Emmanuel Macron also intends, according to the Elysée, “to obtain from Joe Biden exemptions for European industrialists penalized by American legislation”.

Finally, in addition to a private dinner to be held Wednesday at the White House with Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, a lunch is scheduled for Thursday with the head of diplomacy Antony Blinken, followed by a state dinner.

A press conference is also scheduled for Thursday.

At the end of his visit, Emmanuel Macron will travel to New Orleans in Louisiana.

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