Macron fires World War cannon at Trump's notion of nationalism
Trump appeared grim as he listened to a translation of Macron's speech and clapped tepidly
- Published 12.11.18, 1:58 AM
- Updated 10.12.18, 12:21 PM
- 2 mins read
President Donald Trump’s brand of “America First” nationalism was repudiated on Sunday as leaders from around the globe gathered to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I and reaffirm the international bonds that have once again come under strain.
Stone-faced and unmoved, the American leader listened as President Emmanuel Macron of France used the ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe to denounce self-interested nationalism and extol the sort of globalism and international institutions that Trump has spent the last two years pulling the US away from.
“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism,” Macron said in a speech on a dreary, rain-soaked day. “Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism by saying, ‘our interest first, who cares about the others?’”
Remembering the forces that led to World War I, Macron warned that “the old demons” have been resurfacing and declared that “giving into the fascination for withdrawal, isolationism, violence and domination would be a grave error that future generations would very rightly make us responsible for”.
Trump, who recently declared himself “nationalist”, appeared grim as he listened to a translation of the speech through an earpiece and clapped only tepidly afterward.
The ceremony encapsulated the tension in the international arena as Trump seeks to rewrite the rules that have governed the world in recent decades. Trump has argued that other nations have taken advantage of the US, whether in economics or security, and that it was time to look after American interests first.
The tensions were on display during the President’s meeting with Macron on Saturday, a day after Trump issued a Twitter blast at his French host, calling a proposal for a European army “very insulting”.
Macron explained that the idea was not to counter the US but to relieve it of some of the burden for European security, a constant theme of Trump’s.
In an interview with Fareed Zakaria of CNN later, Macron termed himself “a patriot” as distinct from a “nationalist”.
By contrast, Macron and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, representing the two nations that were once bitter enemies, demonstrated the close friendship that has emerged from the rubble of war.
At the Arc de Triomphe, bells tolled exactly one century after the guns fell silent at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, but the moment of symbolism was lost as the leaders who were supposed to be standing together at that point were still taking their places, and neither the American nor Russian Presidents had arrived yet.
Trump arrived in his own motorcade, travelling separately, aides said, because of security, and joined the world leaders under a transparent enclosure at the arch.
Then President Vladimir Putin of Russia arrived, approached Trump, shook his hand and gave him a friendly pat on the arm before taking his place.