US president lashes out at Emmanuel Macron following tense weekend in Paris
Donald Trump has launched into a scathing tirade against French President Emmanuel Macron that appears to signal the end of what has been described as a “bromance” between the two leaders.
The spat began on Friday after the French president suggested that Europe needs to build a “real European army” to protect itself from Russia, China and “even the United States of America”.
“President Macron of France has just suggested that Europe build its own military in order to protect itself from the U.S., China and Russia,” Trump tweeted shortly after landing in Paris to attend a ceremony to mark the Armistice. “Very insulting, but perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO, which the U.S. subsidizes greatly!”
Macron immediately clarified that he meant Europe would defend itself better “without just depending on the United States”.
But Trump appears unconvinced, firing off more angry tweets yesterday. “Emmanuel Macron suggests building its own army to protect Europe against the US, China and Russia,” Trump wrote. “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 US came along. Pay for Nato or not!”
The US president also ripped into Macron over over trade policy, tariffs on US wine and even his low public approval rating.
The problem is that Emmanuel suffers from a very low Approval Rating in France, 26%, and an unemployment rate of almost 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!……..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 13, 2018
Despite attempts by the Elysee Palace to smooth over the row, The Times says that Trump’s tweets “marked an abrupt end to Macron’s 18-month courtship of the US president”.
So how did it all go wrong?
Following Macron’s election in May 2017, the pair appeared to be broadly on the same page. Trump “flew to Paris for Bastille Day…at the height of [the pair’s] honeymoon period”, says The Washington Post.
As Axios’s Jonathan Swan noted, Trump views international relations as chemistry between individuals, and Macron put forth a “masterclass” in “flattery, attentiveness and wariness” of the US leader.
“France is America’s first and oldest ally. A lot of people don’t know that,” Trump declared during a bilateral news conference in Paris in July 2017. “It was a long time ago, but we are together. And I think together, perhaps, more so than ever. The relationship is very good.”
First signs of tension
Macron hinted at possible problems between the pair on the last evening of his reciprocal State visit to Washington DC in April. During a press conference, the French president gave a blunt assessment of Trump’s “America First” approach, saying: “It can work [in] the short term, but it’s very insane [in] the mid-to long-term.”
This was when “the divide between Trump’s nationalism and Macron’s multilateralism began to manifest in concrete policy”, says Axios. Following Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the Iran deal, Macron has not hesitated to voice his displeasure, telling the UN Security Council in September that the US approach to Iran was inadequate.
The beginning of the end?
“We have become very good friends,” Trump told reporters in Paris on Saturday. But “all weekend, Trump cut a solitary figure”, says Time.
On Sunday, Macron “issued his sharpest rebuke yet to Trump, albeit without once mentioning his name”, the magazine adds. “Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism,” the French leader told an audience of world leaders at an event marking the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.
Macron also told reporters that he wants France to rely less on US companies for defence, and “perhaps it is this possibility that has gotten under Trump’s skin”, says Vanity Fair.
In an interview with CNN, Macron said: “What I don’t want to see is European countries increasing the budget in defence in order to buy Americans’ and other arms or materials coming from your industry.
“I think if we increase our budget, it’s…to build our autonomy and to become an actual sovereign power.”