To mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One, also known as Armistice Day, French President Emmanuel Macron addressed leaders from over 60 countries who were gathered at the Arc de Triomphe, the famous Paris landmark. The 2018 gathering commemorated the “war to end all wars,” which ended at precisely the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, in 1918. Macron lit the eternal flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and spoke of the sacrifices made a century ago during four years (1914-1918) of human carnage in Europe. Yet, with President Donald Trump in the audience, Macron, in what appeared to be a direct jab at the U.S. president, said: “Patriotism is the exact opposite of Nationalism, and Nationalism is a betrayal of Patriotism.” He then added, “Old demons are reawakening, ready to sow chaos and death…History sometimes threatens to repeat its tragic patterns and undermine the legacy of peace we thought we had sealed with the blood of our ancestors.”
Macron was apparently alluding to a recent Trump speech in which the U.S. President called himself “a nationalist.” Some people might consider Macron’s remarks as sheer “Chutzpah,” others might call it “insensitive.” The truth however is that Trump’s nationalism is not of the European variety that was indeed the cause of two total wars known as WWI and WWII. The first was brought about by the German Kaiser Wilhelm II, seeking an empire to rival and undermine the British and French Empires, while the Second World War had to do with the weakness of the European democracies, namely Britain and France, and the Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, seeking a 1,000-year Reich, and Nazi domination of Europe.
True, European pacifism today stems directly from the loss of a whole generation of young men in WWI. That pacifism however, enabled Hitler’s Germany to extract concessions from the democracies, and the sacrifice of Czechoslovakia on the altar of “peace in our time,” as announced by the appeaser Neville Chamberlain, following the Munich accords with Hitler. Ironically, the same pacifism gripping Europe in the 1930’s is present today among the leading members of the European Union (EU): France and Germany. This may be why they are underfunding their militaries, and why they continue to appease a radical and dangerous Islamic Republic of Iran in the name of “peace.” They are also maintaining the nuclear deal in spite of clear indications that Iran is not keeping its part of the “spirit of the deal.”
Macron sought to play the role of a “vocal counterweight” to President Trump in rejecting Trump’s “America First” policy and denouncing the U.S. for stepping out of international treaties such as the Iran nuclear deal, the Paris climate accord and the UN program on refugees. The contrast between the EU and the U.S. is rather clear. Whereas the globalist Macron and his unelected EU officials are not accountable to the people in the individual EU member states, President Trump is accountable to the American people. Moreover, for too long, America has given of itself and its resources to protect Europe.
Macron should remember that it was the American Expeditionary Forces that tipped the balance in WWI in favor of the allies, Britain and France. French soil is full of reminders in the form of military cemeteries and of the American sacrifices for France and Europe in WWI and WWII. In fact, it was American might that liberated France. The U.S. Marshall Plan facilitated the rebuilding of Europe after WWII. The U.S. protected Western Europe, especially France and West Germany, from the Soviet menace during the Cold War, by stationing U.S. forces in Europe and providing it with a nuclear umbrella.
In saying, “Old demons are reawakening, ready to sow chaos and death,” Macron was likely referring to the Trump administration and some EU states (Poland, Hungary, The Czech Republic, Slovakia, and now Italy too) rejecting dictates of the EU to absorb mostly Muslim migrants from Middle Eastern and African countries. They have been faulted by Macron for trying to preserve their culture and way of life, and avoid the Islamist terrorism plaguing France and Germany, in particular. Seeking to do what is best for one’s people and nation, while not necessarily appealing to the values of the unaccountable globalist structures such as the EU and the UN (not exactly a paragon of virtue), is not equal to “sowing chaos and death.” Moreover, Macron and the French, in particular, are always ready to excuse the brutal regimes of the Third world, while finding it easy to blame democracies. This is true in the way France is dealing with Israel and the Palestinians and the case of the U.S. versus Iran.
Tweeting a response to Macron’s allusion in his speech to Trump, and the French President’s suggestion of a European army, the U.S. President wrote: “Emmanuel Macron suggests building its own army to protect Europe against the U.S., China, and Russia. But it was Germany in World War One and 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!” Less than two hours later, Trump tweeted: “The problem is that Emmanuel suffers from a very low Approval Rating in France, 26%, and an unemployment rate of 10%. He was just trying to get onto another subject. By the way, there is no country more Nationalist than France, very proud people and rightfully so!...Make France Great again!”
Admittedly, Trump’s response could have been more historical and less political, crafted in a letter to Macron and not in a tweet. In it he could have reminded the French president that the American people, prior to the World Wars, were essentially isolationists, and sought to adhere to the Monroe Doctrine (1823), which stipulated U.S non-interference in the internal affairs or the wars between European powers. It is because America cared about freedom and opposed German militarism and fascism that the U.S. became the savior of European democracies.
Trump’s “America First” foreign policy reflects the U.S disillusionment with the corrupt UN and its various agencies, such as the Human Rights Council, run by oppressive dictatorships, or UNESCO, which decreed that the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, Judaism’s most sacred shrine is “occupied territory.” It seeks to instill fairness in international trade relations, in which the U.S. is not taken advantage of. In fact, Trump tweeted in his response to Macron that, “France makes excellent wine, but so does the U.S. The problem is that France makes it very hard for the U.S. to sell its wines into France, and (France) charges big tariffs, whereas the U.S. makes it easy for French wines, and charges very small tariffs. Not fair, must change!”
With multiculturalism being the new faith of the EU leadership, and globalism as its foreign policy, it is indeed difficult for the likes of Macron to understand American “nationalism,” patriotism, or pride, which is essentially deeply rooted in Judeo-Christian values. It is sheer chutzpah on Macron’s part to infer that the Trump Administration’s America is selfish and does not care about the world. He should appreciate America’s generosity, and its sacrifices in blood for the survival of freedom and democracy in Europe. Unlike Macron and the EU, America is not however, obligated to appease the forces of evil.