Trump be­gins visit to Eu­rope with jab at French pres­i­dent

He is in Paris to mark the 100th an­niver­sary of the World War I ar­mistice

Tulsa World - - Front Page - By Jill Colvin and Dar­lene Superville

PARIS — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump wasted no time tak­ing a poke at his French host Fri­day as he ar­rived in Paris for events mark­ing the 100th an­niver­sary of the ar­mistice that ended World War I, tweet­ing as he landed that Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron had made an “in­sult­ing” pro­posal to build up Eu­rope's mil­i­tary to counter the U.S., China and Rus­sia.

It was a clear sign that the “Amer­ica first” pres­i­dent was ready to chart his own course yet again as world lead­ers gath­ered to re­mem­ber the coali­tion that brought an end to the first global war. Trump's visit comes on the heels of midterm elec­tions in which Amer­i­cans de­liv­ered a split ref­er­en­dum on his pres­i­dency, keep­ing the Se­nate in his party's con­trol but ced­ing the House to op­po­si­tion Democrats.

He planned to meet with Macron on Sat­ur­day for talks on top­ics ex­pected to in­clude Euro­pean se­cu­rity, Syria and Iran. As he ar­rived, Trump tweeted that Macron “has just sug­gested that Eu­rope build its own mil­i­tary in or­der to pro­tect it­self from the U.S., China and Rus­sia. Very in­sult­ing, but per­haps Eu­rope should first pay its fair share of NATO, which the U.S. sub­si­dizes greatly!”

Trump's brief visit to Eu­rope comes amid un­cer­tainty about the U.S. re­la­tion­ship with the con­ti­nent. Trump has railed against trade deals with the Euro­pean Union and has crit­i­cized some EU na­tions, in­clud­ing France, for not spend­ing enough to de­fense to sus­tain NATO, the decades­old West­ern al­liance formed as a bul­wark to Moscow's ag­gres­sion.

Trump's na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser, John Bolton, said Fri­day in Paris that the U.S. was con­cerned about sta­bil­ity in Eu­rope and that Trump was not shirk­ing from global en­gage­ment. “I think the en­dur­ing les­son (of World War I) for the United States is that when you be­come a global power ... you have global in­ter­ests to pro­tect,” Bolton said. “Great world lead­ers,” he said, are “driven by na­tional in­ter­ests.”

For Sun­day's ar­mistice an­niver­sary, Trump was to join world lead­ers at a cer­e­mony in the shadow of the Arc de Tri­om­phe.

Trump and Macron's early re­la­tion­ship was marked by kisses, fre­quent meet­ings and marathon power hand­shakes. Early on, Macron tried to po­si­tion him­self as a sort of “Trump whis­perer” and Trump re­turned the fa­vor, host­ing Macron at the first and only state din­ner of his pres­i­dency.

PARIS — Paris, the City of Light, al­ways was the grand­est prize of World War I, ei­ther to con­quer or de­fend.

So it is only fit­ting that when vic­tors and van­quished meet to mark the cen­ten­nial of the ar­mistice this week­end, the big­gest cer­e­mony should be on the famed Champs-El­y­sees at the Arc de Tri­om­phe.

On Fri­day, some lead­ers be­gan re­mem­brance events in a wide cres­cent of ceme­ter­ies and trenchrut­ted bat­tle­fields north of the cap­i­tal.

Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May laid wreaths for the first and last Bri­tish sol­dier killed in the fight­ing — the two were buried across from one an­other near Mons in south­ern Bel­gium. One grave holds the re­mains of Pvt. John Parr, killed Aug. 21, 1914. The other grave is of Pvt. Ge­orge El­li­son, who sur­vived some of the war's worst bat­tles but was shot on Nov. 11, 1918 — the war's last day.

French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron con­tin­ued his pil­grim­age of WWI sites and caught up with May, as the two present day lead­ers of the Al­lied forces that de­feated Ger­many walked past graves at the Thiep­val memo­rial.

“Each ceme­tery and memo­rial across the world is a unique and poignant re­minder of the cost of the First World War,” said May.

Sixty-nine heads of state and gov­ern­ment will un­der­score that mes­sage at the Tomb of the Un­known Sol­dier in Paris on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month on Sun­day, ex­actly a cen­tury af­ter the ar­mistice.

Such was the sym­bolic im­por­tance of the French cap­i­tal that vic­to­ri­ous U.S. Gen. John J. Per­sh­ing said it was his “de­sire that ev­ery man in the Amer­i­can Ex­pe­di­tionary Forces should be given the op­por­tu­nity to visit Paris be­fore re­turn­ing to the United States.”

Far from ev­ery sur­viv­ing U.S. sol­dier from the 1914-1918 war made it to the French cap­i­tal, but on Sun­day, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump will join his French coun­ter­part and host, Em­manuel Macron, and oth­ers to re­mem­ber the mil­lions who died dur­ing the first global con­flict.

Alan Seeger, the Amer­i­can poet that Macron lauded in his speech to the U.S. Congress last year, al­ready cap­tured the seeds of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion in 1916 when he wrote, as a sol­dier in the French For­eign Le­gion, that “I never took arms out of any ha­tred against Ger­many or the Ger­mans, but purely out of love for France.”

France, Bri­tain and its empire, Rus­sia and the United States had the main armies op­pos­ing a Ger­man-led coali­tion that also in­cluded the Aus­troHun­gar­ian and Ot­toman em­pires. Nearly 10 mil­lion sol­diers died, of­ten in bru­tal trench war­fare where poi­son gas added a cru­elty in war­fare that the world had never seen.

Hun­dreds of thou­sands from all cor­ners of the world died in Eu­rope, many of them on the West­ern Front reach­ing from Bel­gium's Flan­ders Fields al­most up to the Swiss bor­der.

Like other lead­ers vis­it­ing na­tional ceme­ter­ies dot­ted around north­ern France, Trump will visit two burial sites that high­light how the United States came of age as a mil­i­tary power af­ter it joined the war in 1917 and set it up to be­come a dom­i­nat­ing force for the next cen­tury.

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