Transatlantic Politics in Paris

It has been an animated spring semester for students in France, with months of campaigning and debate, followed by two rounds of voting and the recent election of Emmanuel Macron as President. Early in March, however, students gathered at the Paris Study Center to discuss political developments on the other side of the Atlantic and their impact on Europe and the world.

Professor Annick Cizel led a lecture and discussion on the future of transatlantic relations under President Trump. Cizel is a professor at the New Sorbonne University (Paris III) whose research focuses on US foreign policy and transatlantic relations. During a one-hour lecture, she masterfully led students, faculty, and staff on a journey around the world and through twentieth century diplomatic history, deconstructing European geopolitics and tracing US influence and the impact of its leaders.

Cizel carefully analyzed the weight and historic context of terms associated with Trump’s election, breaking down differences between isolationism and unilateralism against the history of multilateralism in Europe since the end of WWII. She provoked thought around the idea of China stepping in to maintain “multilateralism the American way” and challenged the group to consider the Russian foreign minister’s statement in February about a post-West world order, not to be confused with a post-American world. “That shift happened under Obama,” she commented.

The group considered the role of nationalism in Trump’s rhetoric, drawing a parallel to elections in France and across Europe. “We do not know what Europe will look like in six months’ time,” reflected Cizel, alluding to elections in France, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy, and rising nationalist resentment in Poland, Austria, Slovenia and Hungary. “Europe has a very bad history with nationalism.”

This lecture is part of an on-going series open to all students at the Paris Study Center. Other topics this term included the French economic paradox – the contrast between French labor relations, stereotypes about French work ethic, and the country’s relatively strong economic performance in Europe – and in early April, a discussion of the top candidates in the running for the country’s recent presidential election.