When the French Were Learning German

Trump has insulted the French and has reminded them that Germany has been their enemy historically.

In the midst of the World War I Armistice centenary, Donald Trump passed another major milestone in the degradation of the trans-Atlantic bond.

He insulted the French, reminding them that Germany has been their historic enemy, and he once more demanded that Europeans contribute more money to NATO. This was all an attempt to further divide the European Union and to attack its aspiration of an autonomous army. However, with his aggressiveness, the president of the United States strengthened those who support the European defense, and established himself as an unreliable ally.

In the schism between progressives and nationalists in the EU, Trump has bet on the latter again. That is why, while 200,000 nationalists were marching in Warsaw chanting “God, Honor and Fatherland” — in Europe, in the 21st century! — the president chose to lash out against Emmanuel Macron, the main battering ram against that sort of nationalism.

In his quest to divide Europe, Trump even tried to set Berlin and Paris against each other, the reconciliation of which relationship has been the foundation of the longest period of peace in the history of Europe. As a reminder, Trump said that when the Americans landed in Normandy in 1944, the French were “starting to learn German.”

Indeed, France and the whole of Europe owe the recovery of their freedoms to the American troops, but Trump forgot to add that it had been possible because the then-occupant of the White House, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, did not apply the exclusionary “America First” policy that prevails today in Washington.

In addition to this omission by the American president, there is another, which concerns the financial contributions to NATO. If he seeks to reduce U.S. contributions and wants Europe to take more responsibility for its own defense, as he claims he does, then he should be delighted because the creation of its own army would “show the world that there will never be war again in Europe,” as German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

But no, it is likely that Trump’s criticism of Europe hides another twofold purpose. One, that European countries pursue defense policies in NATO that are in line with Washington’s strategic interests, and two, that they keep acquiring advanced military equipment made in the United States.

The latest example has taken place in Belgium. The government, to the astonishment of its parliament, has just acquired 34 American F-35 fighter jets instead of the European Eurofighters, on the grounds that they are designed to carry B-61 American nuclear ammunition.

“Judge me by the enemies I have made,” Roosevelt once said. Trump has garnered too many already. He must not have been listening to Macron when he asserted, before 80 world leaders, that the Armistice centenary would be the symbol of lasting peace or “the last moment of unity before the world falls into disorder.” The head of the leading world power has once more pushed in favor of the second hypothesis.

About this publication

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply