Trump the ‘na­tion­al­ist’ stood apart in Paris

Eu­ro­pean lead­ers urge more in­ter­na­tional co-op­er­a­tion as Macron calls na­tion­al­ism a ‘be­trayal of pa­tri­o­tism’

The Peterborough Examiner - - Canada & World - DAR­LENE SU­PERVILLE AND JILL COLVIN

PARIS — For U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in Paris, Amer­ica First meant largely Amer­ica alone.

At a week­end com­mem­o­ra­tion of the 100th an­niver­sary of the end of the First World War, the pres­i­dent who proudly de­clares him­self a “na­tion­al­ist” stood apart, even on a con­ti­nent where his brand of pop­ulism is on the rise.

He be­gan his visit with a tweet slam­ming the French pres­i­dent’s call for a Eu­ro­pean de­fence force, ar­rived at events alone and spent much of his trip out of sight in the Amer­i­can am­bas­sadors’ res­i­dence in cen­tral Paris. On Sun­day, he lis­tened as he was lec­tured on the dan­gers of na­tion­al­ist iso­la­tion, and then he headed home just as the in­au­gu­ral Paris Peace Sum­mit was get­ting un­der­way.

The visit made clear that, nearly two years af­ter tak­ing of­fice, Trump has dra­mat­i­cally up­ended decades of Amer­i­can for­eign pol­icy pos­ture, shak­ing al­lies.

That in­cludes French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron, who on Sun­day warned that the “an­cient demons” that caused the

First World War and mil­lions of deaths were once again mak­ing head­way.

Macron, who has been urg­ing a re-em­brace of multi­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions and co-op­er­a­tion that have been shunned by Trump, de­liv­ered a barely-veiled re­buke of Trump­ism at the week­end’s cen­tre­piece event: A gath­er­ing of dozens of lead­ers at the Tomb of the Un­known Sol­dier at the base of the Arc de Tri­om­phe to mark the pas­sage of a cen­tury since the guns fell silent in a global war that killed mil­lions. Bells tolled across Europe’s Western Front and fighter jets passed over­head to mark the ex­act mo­ment the dev­as­tat­ing war came to a close.

With Trump and other lead­ers look­ing on, Macron took on the ris­ing tide of pop­ulism in the United States and Europe and urged lead­ers not to turn their backs by turn­ing in­ward.

“Pa­tri­o­tism is the ex­act op­po­site of na­tion­al­ism: Na­tion­al­ism is a be­trayal of pa­tri­o­tism,” Macron said, adding that, when na­tions put their in­ter­ests first and de­cide “who cares about the oth­ers” they “erase the most pre­cious thing a na­tion can have ... Its mo­ral val­ues.”

Af­ter Trump was gone, Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel, who re­cently an­nounced that she will not be seek­ing re­elec­tion, made an im­pas­sioned plea for global co-op­er­a­tion at the peace fo­rum, say­ing the First World War had “made clear what dis­as­trous con­se­quences a lack of com­pro­mise in pol­i­tics and diplo­macy can have.”

Trump, who has made clear that he has lim­ited pa­tience for broad, mul­ti­lat­eral agree­ments, sat mostly stone-faced as he lis­tened to Macron, who sees him­self as Europe’s foil to the ris­ing na­tion­al­ist sen­ti­ment, which has taken hold in Hun­gary and Poland among other coun­tries.

Trump did en­gage with his fel­low lead­ers, at­tend­ing a group wel­come din­ner hosted by Macron at the Musée d’Or­say on Satur­day night and a lunch on Sun­day. He also spent time with Macron on Satur­day, when the two stressed their shared de­sire for more bur­den-shar­ing dur­ing a quick avail­abil­ity with re­porters.

But Trump was terse dur­ing some of his pri­vate con­ver­sa­tions with world lead­ers, ac­cord­ing to peo­ple with direct knowl­edge of his visit. One of the peo­ple de­scribed the pres­i­dent as “grumpy.” They spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they were not autho­rized to dis­cuss pri­vate con­ver­sa­tions.

The sym­bol­ism dur­ing Trump’s visit couldn’t have been more stark.

Trump was miss­ing from one of the week­end’s most pow­er­ful im­ages: A line of world lead­ers, walk­ing shoul­der to-shoul­der in a som­bre, rain-soaked pro­ces­sion as the bells mark­ing the ex­act mo­ment that fight­ing ended — 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918 — fin­ished tolling.

The pres­i­dent and first lady Me­la­nia Trump had trav­elled to the com­mem­o­ra­tion sep­a­rately — White House press sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee San­ders cited se­cu­rity pro­to­cols — from the other dig­ni­taries, who had trav­elled to­gether by bus from the Élysée Palace.

As Trump’s mo­tor­cade was mak­ing its solo trip down the grand Champs-Élysées, which was closed to traf­fic, at least one top­less woman breached tight se­cu­rity, run­ning into the street and shout­ing “fake peace maker” as the cars passed. She had slo­gans, in­clud­ing the words “Fake” and “Peace,” writ­ten on her chest.

Po­lice tack­led the woman and the mo­tor­cade con­tin­ued un­in­ter­rupted. The fem­i­nist ac­tivist group Fe­men later claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Also trav­el­ling on his own was Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, who shook Trump’s hand, flashed him a thumbs-up sign and pat­ted Trump’s arm as he ar­rived. Trump re­sponded with a wide smile.

Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser John Bolton had said at one point that Putin and

Trump would meet in Paris, but they will in­stead hold a for­mal sit-down later this month at a world lead­ers’ sum­mit in Buenos Aires.

A Krem­lin official said later that U.S. and Rus­sian of­fi­cials de­cided to drop plans for the Paris meet­ing af­ter French of­fi­cials ob­jected.

Trump, who ran on an “Amer­ica First” plat­form, has jarred Eu­ro­pean al­lies with his ac­tions. He has slapped tar­iffs on the Eu­ro­pean Union, pulled the U.S. out of the land­mark Paris Cli­mate Ac­cord and the Iran nu­clear deal and sug­gested he might be will­ing to pull the U.S. out of NATO if mem­ber coun­ties don’t sig­nif­i­cantly boost their de­fence spend­ing. Trump’s ea­ger­ness to get along with the Rus­sian leader — in spite of Rus­sia’s med­dling in the 2016 elec­tion and nu­mer­ous other ag­gres­sive moves in re­cent years — has alarmed those who view Rus­sia as a grow­ing threat.

Trump has also re­peat­edly branded him­self a “na­tion­al­ist,” de­spite crit­i­cism from some that the term has neg­a­tive con­no­ta­tions. At a news con­fer­ence last week, Trump de­fended his use of the phrase. “You know what the word is? I love our coun­try,” he said, adding: “You have na­tion­al­ists. You have glob­al­ists. I also love the world and I don’t mind help­ing the world, but we have to straighten out our coun­try first. We have a lot of prob­lems.”

But Trump did not broach the di­vide as he paid trib­ute Sun­day to U.S. and al­lied sol­diers killed in the First World War dur­ing “a hor­ri­ble, hor­ri­ble war” that marked Amer­ica’s emer­gence as a world power.

The Vet­er­ans Day speech came a day af­ter Trump was crit­i­cized for fail­ing to visit a dif­fer­ent Amer­i­can ceme­tery about 100 kilo­me­tres out­side Paris on Satur­day be­cause rain grounded the he­li­copter he had planned to take.


U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump stands among head­stones dur­ing a cer­e­mony at Suresnes Amer­i­can Ceme­tery. Sun­day was the 100th an­niver­sary of the end of the First World War.

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