The outgoing French ambassador to the U.S. compared President Trump’s administration to King Louis XIV’s court calling the president a “whimsical, unpredictable, uninformed” leader.
Trying to understand the Trump White House is like trying to understand the French monarch known as the Sun King, said Gérard Araud, who is retiring after a 37-year career.
“You have an old king, a bit whimsical, unpredictable, uninformed, but he wants to be the one deciding,” Gérard Araud said during a new interview with The Guardian released Friday.
Araud, who was appointed as France’s ambassador to Washington in 2014 after serving as the country’s envoy to the United Nations and to Israel, said Trump, like Louis XIV, “doesn’t want to appear under any influence and he wants to show it.”
He also ripped into Trump’s unpredictability and foreign policy interests, saying the president has isolated itself from traditional allies.
“When they say ‘America first’, it’s America alone,” Araud said in the interview. “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 defense of narrow American interest.”
Araud praised the decisionmaking process of Trump’s predecessor, saying former President Obama’s foreign policy moves followed months of strategy meetings.
“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,” he said.
“It is the end of an era, the era of neoliberalism. We don’t yet know what will succeed it,” Araud tweeted at 2 a.m. on the night Trump was elected. “After Brexit and this election, anything is possible. A world is collapsing before our eyes. Vertigo.”
Araud told The Guardian that he quickly deleted the tweet but “the sin had been committed.”
“But looking at it in retrospect, of course I was right,” he continued. “My world, our world of certainties, really was collapsing and we were facing a real, substantial, dangerous crisis, which could basically really overwhelm my own country. I believe we are entering a new era. I just don’t know what this era will be.”