Among the problems with Donald Trump’s latest tantrum against France was his timing. As the American president mocked our French allies yesterday – complete with an all-caps missive that read, “Make France Great Again!” – France was recognizing the three-year anniversary of an ISIS terrorist attack in Paris that killed 130 people.
Trump may not have realized the significance of the date, but he didn’t bother to check, either. Reuters reports that this did not go unnoticed.
U.S. President Donald Trump, who attacked his French counterpart in a series of tweets on Tuesday, should have shown “common decency” instead since the country was mourning the anniversary of deadly attacks in Paris, a French government spokesman said.
In five posts sent on the same day France marked the anniversary of the 2015 attacks that killed 130 people, Trump blasted the key U.S. ally over its near defeat to Germany in two world wars, its wine industry and President Emmanuel Macron’s approval ratings.
“Yesterday was November 13, we were marking the murder of 130 of our people,” French government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux told Reuters. “So I’ll reply in English: ‘common decency’ would have been appropriate.”
It’s a difficult sentiment to disagree with.
Trump’s offensive was misguided anyway, given that it was rooted in confusion. Emmanuel Macron recently spoke about Europe taking responsibility for its own security, and not looking to the United States for protection, which is a sentiment the Republican White House should agree with. The American president, however, decided it was “very insulting” – because in Trump’s mind, Macron recommended building an army to protect Europe from Americans.
The larger context, of course, is every bit as important as the Republican’s misplaced assumptions. After Macron took office, he seemed to have a strategy in mind: Trump may have alienated many of the United States’ allies, but the young French president seemed determined to forge a partnership with the American leader.
He even threw Trump a parade, which the Republican seemed to thoroughly enjoy.
But the relationship now appears to be unraveling. I’m reminded of something Politico reported over the summer, “Foreign leaders are learning that hand-holding, golf games, military parades and other efforts to personally woo President Donald Trump do not guarantee that Trump won’t burn them.”
The article quoted one former White House official saying, “Trump is very selfish and I think he views flattery as a one-way street where he gets flattered and then there’s no real reciprocal benefit going back the other direction. If you’re a foreign leader you have to realize if you try to butter up Trump it doesn’t really matter, it’s a one-way street.”
It’s likely Emmanuel Macron is now well aware of this unfortunate dynamic.