U.S. President Donald Trump’s unpredictability and his positions on North Korea and Russia could bring global instability, said Jean-Pierre Raffarin, a former French prime minister and a top aide to presidential candidate Francois Fillon.
“China is very worried by the U.S.,” Raffarin said in a phone interview. “Trump is unpredictable, and it’s a subject of great worry for China. The strike in Syria, which was carried out without consultation, unilaterally, created a precedent and is a great concern. China is fully aware of what North Korea can do and how it can manage the North Korean risk. For them, the instability factor is Trump.”
Raffarin, the French Republican candidate Fillon’s top diplomatic adviser, said France should seek to protect Europe and its allies from Trump interventions, which he said will bring instability, including on the Old Continent. Raffarin, a senator who has sought to develop strong ties between France and China, backs Fillon’s view that France and Europe must counter the U.S.’s “global domination,” and put more distance with Washington.
Fillon, 63, is among the top four contenders in the French presidential race, with the first round of the vote slated for April 23. Fillon, who was the favorite until the end of January when his campaign was hit by a series of scandals on his spending habits, is fighting for political survival. If he loses, it would mark the first time since 1965 that the Republicans will have been eliminated from the runoff.
Fillon has campaigned on restoring France’s role as a global player, attacking positions taken by the U.S. and its “scandalous interference” in Europe’s economy by citing “rules tailored for the U.S.,” including in the banking industry. Fillon has appealed to neighboring Germany to respond more forcefully to what he sees as U.S. protectionism and policies that hurt Europe.
In the interview, Raffarin alluded to the dangers of the escalating war of words with North Korea. The country’s failed ballistic missile launch on Sunday hasn’t prompted the Trump administration to deviate from its plans for dealing with the Pyongyang regime, even as the flubbed test eased the risk of imminent retaliation.
Trump is willing to consider “kinetic” military action, including a sudden strike, to counteract North Korea’s series of destabilizing actions, said two people familiar with the White House’s thinking.
China has warned that a war on the Korean Peninsula would have devastating consequences. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is in Asia on a 10-day trip that includes South Korea. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged all parties “to stop provoking and threatening each other and not to make the situation irretrievable."
For Raffarin, Trump’s influence is as disruptive in Europe.
As the 45th U.S. president’s relationship with Russia is increasingly strained, the French Republican lawmaker says Trump would seek to use the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and its members to provoke Russia.
“NATO is not a tool to use to export its troubles into Europe,” he said. “Trump wants to use Europe to address his problem, but Europe should remain only European. And Putin must see us as such.”
Fillon sees Russia’s Vladimir Putin as a potential threat for Europe and wants to rebuild bridges to avoid confrontation. In a March press conference, Fillon said Russia was “a dangerous country and we must carefully consider what strategy to use with it.” Fillon has also expressed a positive opinion of Putin, including in his campaign book.
“War is brewing at the borders of Europe and that’s why it’s so necessary to reestablish a dialogue with Russia,” Raffarin said. “We must convince Russia that the hypothesis of a war is absurd.”
Separately, the French candidate’s adviser said he was uncomfortable with Trump’s April 6 U.S. missile attacks in Syria in response to a chemical weapon attack on a Syrian village on April 4.
“Clearly such an operation is worrying,” he said. “The issue is not the decision to strike, which we are supporting, but it’s the method. The decision was taken unilaterally.”