U.S. President Donald Trump issued a bizarre warning Tuesday about French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposal for Europe to create its own army.
Trump tweeted, “Emmanuel Macron suggests building its own army to protect Europe against the U.S., China and Russia. 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 U.S. came along. Pay for NATO or not!”
While the text of the tweet is cryptic, Trump appeared to be warning that Germany may invade France again without NATO and U.S. protection. Trump followed his initial tweet with four more, including "MAKE FRANCE GREAT AGAIN," and an apparent rebuke of Macron's recent attack on nationalism.
On Sunday, Macron led tributes to the millions of soldiers killed in World War One, using an emotional ceremony in Paris attended by scores of world leaders to warn against nationalism a century on from the conflict.
Trump received international criticism for skipping a visit to an American cemetery on Saturday due to rain, a move which was widely panned on Twitter. Winston Churchill's grandson called Trump "pathetic" and "not fit," while the French army seemed to troll Trump with a photo of a soldier training in the rain caption, "There is rain, but it does not matter."
Unlimited access for just $1 for the first month of your annual subscription
On Tuesday Trump tweeted a defense of why he didn't attend that event, saying, "By the way, when the helicopter couldn’t fly to the first cemetery in France because of almost zero visibility, I suggested driving. Secret Service said NO, too far from airport & big Paris shutdown. Speech next day at American Cemetary in pouring rain! Little reported-Fake News!"
Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and dozens of monarchs, princes, presidents and prime ministers joined Macron to mark the moment the guns fell silent across Europe 100 years earlier.
Under grey skies and gently falling rain, many heads of state joined Macron in walking the last stretch of the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe, where the ceremony was held. Trumpand Putin arrived slightly later in separate motorcades.
In a 20-minute address delivered beside the tomb of the unknown soldier, Macron described the "unimaginable hell" of those who fought in the trenches, denouncing the nationalism that fanned the flames of war and now shows signs of resurgence.
Macron spoke bluntly of the threat from nationalism, calling it a betrayal of moral values. Trump, who has described himself as a nationalist and has promoted what he calls an "America First" policy, sat a few feet (meters) away, stony-faced.
"Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism: nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism," Macron said. "When we say 'our interests come first, those of others don't matter', we erase the very thing that a nation holds most precious, that which gives it life and makes it great: its moral values."
Reuters contributed to this story
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now