President Donald Trump has defined his foreign policy via Twitter time and time again. This past week, he lashed out at French President Emmanuel Macron over a whole host of issues, seemingly set off by the leader’s new warnings against nationalism, an ideology Trump has embraced heartily. Macron responded in a newly released interview, dismissing the long term significance of Trump’s rambling.
He told French media outlet TF1:
‘I do not do policy or diplomacy by tweets… At each important moment in our history we have been allies, and between allies there is respect and I do not want to hear the rest.’
The original tweets in question included, besides direct criticism of Macron over his rejection of “nationalism,” criticism of the French leader over his country’s trade policies, his approval rating, and his suggestion that Europe needs to build up its own fighting force to supplement interests like NATO.
Trump reacted so repulsively to Macron’s ideas that he reached all the way back to World War II for support in his efforts to lord himself over Macron.
He whined — incorrectly taking the European army idea as an affront to the United States and NATO:
‘Emmanuel Macron suggests building its own army to protect Europe against the U.S., China and Russia. But it was Germany in World Wars One & Two – How did that work out for France? They were starting to learn German in Paris before the U.S. came along. Pay for NATO or not!’
Ironically enough, it’s between Trump and Macron that some of the only progress — however slight — between the U.S. president and a more liberal humanist foreign counterpart ever appeared. The Macrons, were, for instance, the first guests to a state dinner under the Trump administration, and Macron had the Trumps as his personal guests for Bastille Day celebrations in France.
Trump’s criticism came after he had spent a weekend in Paris for ceremonies to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, one of which he didn’t even go to. He’s attacked allies including France for supposedly not paying enough for NATO in the past — and he’s been in opposition plenty of other times, too. For instance, he withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate accord signed by hundreds of countries around the globe, and he withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, recently reimposing sanctions on the country over the objections of countries still party to the deal, like France.
The steps have figured into his broader explicitly nationalist aims, as expressed at a pre-midterm elections rally where he touted himself as a “nationalist” — and on plenty of other occasions.
Macron spoke last weekend in France:
‘Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. By saying our interests first, who cares about the others, we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what makes it great and what is essential: its moral values.’
It remains deeply ironic that such a statement would end up a rebuke of a sitting president of the United States in the first place.
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