C’est la vie: Trump takes a swipe at Macron on Twitter
Barrage of tweets come 48 hours after Macron criticises US president’s nationalism
German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Emmanuel Macron greet US president Donald Trump as he arrives at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Sunday. Photograph: Benoit Tessier/AFP/Getty Images
US president Donald Trump launched a barrage of tweets against his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday, 48 hours after Macron criticised Trump’s nationalism in a speech marking the centenary of the first World War armistice.
In his first volley of the morning, fired at 6.50am in Washington, Mr Trump implied that the US twice saved France from Germany, an oft-heard theme in the US. Mr Trump also harped on Mr Macron’s call for a European army, which was the subject of an exchange between the two leaders last week.
“Emmanuel Macron suggests building its own army to protect Europe against the US, China and Russia,” Mr Trump tweeted. “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!”
A senior adviser to Mr Macron said the French leader explained a misunderstanding over his call for a European army to Mr Trump in Paris at the weekend, adding that it was “a good thing President Trump remembers European history”.
In a November 6th interview with Europe 1 radio, Mr Macron said that a sovereign Europe needs to protect itself from “Russia, China and even the US” in terms of the economy and digital technology.
That was somehow merged with Mr Macron’s response to another question, in which he said that Europe needs “a real army” because it cannot always rely on the US. Mr Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel have repeatedly made similar statements.
Mr Trump apparently took Macron’s interview to mean that France needed to defend itself against the US militarily. He called the statement “very insulting”.
In his second volley, at 8.07am in Washington, Mr Trump turned his focus to French wine, saying “France makes it very hard for the US to sell its wines into France” whereas the US charges low tariffs on French wine. “Not fair, must change!” he tweeted.
In his third and most angry volley, at 8.18am in Washington, Mr Trump accused Mr Macron of trying to divert attention from his low, 26 per cent approval rating and high French unemployment. “By the way, there is no country more Nationalist than France,” he tweeted.
In a play on his own 2016 presidential campaign slogan, and on Macron’s “Make Our Planet Great Again” response to the US pulling out of the Paris climate accord, Trump added in capital letters, “MAKE FRANCE GREAT AGAIN!”
“Is shrugging one’s shoulders a reaction?” the senior aide to Mr Macron said. There was a genuine bond between the two leaders “despite the snubs”, he said. They spoke on the telephone several times a week. “I wouldn’t say the relationship is always easy, but it is continuous . . . Donald Trump’s tweets are for domestic consumption. Otherwise he would write them in French.”