And it was decidedly gloomier than the procession of tanks and troops Trump initially envisioned rolling by way of Washington on this date greater than a yr in the past.
But if Trump got here to Paris anticipating a parade that echoed the one he witnessed final summer time, he was disillusioned. The occasions commemorating the 100th anniversary of the top of World War I have been solemn and stately, and the moist streets of Paris have been largely empty because the procession obtained underway Sunday.
As early as Saturday afternoon, the explanations for Trump to be in Paris in any respect had develop into obscured. Homebound on the US ambassador’s residence after foul climate compelled the cancellation of a trip to an American burial floor, the President was invisible as his European counterparts memorialized the World War I slaughter throughout the previous Western Front.
The White House declined to say how he spent the empty hours, although Trump tweeted within the night he’d had “some very productive conferences and requires our nation at the moment.”
The dire political predicament weighing on Trump can’t have been removed from thoughts, regardless of the 1000’s of miles separating Paris and Washington.
Officially, the rationale for scrapping the journey to the Aisne-Marne American cemetery got here right down to security: the President’s Marine One helicopter can’t fly in low cloud cowl, a determination that’s made by army and safety officers and not the President. But there didn’t seem like a backup plan and the President didn’t make any statements of remorse at not having the ability to go to the cemetery.
The optics have been undeniably unhealthy, partly as a result of the episode solely appeared to verify the suspicions of Trump’s critics that he’s bored with finishing up the normal duties of the commander in chief. While reasonable-sounding to these aware of presidential journey logistics, the White House’s explanations for the cancellation appeared inauthentic to informal observers.
White House officers have been assured early Sunday that these criticisms would evaporate after the President’s look on the Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial, the place greater than 1,500 American troopers are buried. His remarks, they mentioned, can be the spotlight of the trip. Trump addressed the group mutedly for roughly 10 minutes earlier than leaving for the airport.
If the climate imbroglio was regarding him, it didn’t present.
“You look so comfy up there beneath shelter as we’re getting drenched,” he referred to as out to a group of American veterans. “You’re very sensible individuals.”
Nationalism within the crosshairs
Earlier Sunday, as world leaders gathered beneath misting rain on the Élysée Palace, Trump opted to move on to the Arc de Triomphe, the place the ceremony was being held. Driving down a abandoned Champs-Élysées, a topless feminine protester breached the barricade lining the well-known Parisian avenue and got here inside toes of the President’s motorcade earlier than she was apprehended by French safety officers.
The dozens of different leaders who met on the French President’s residence beforehand arrived in coach buses moments later, leaving Trump out of a placing scene as they marched down the road along with black umbrellas held over their heads, led by Macron. The White House mentioned the President arrived individually due to “safety protocols.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin additionally arrived individually and flashed Trump a thumbs up earlier than taking his place on the riser.
The imagery might have been rooted in logistics, however as France and its European companions fret in regards to the alliance solid with the United States in bloody battle a century in the past, it mattered. Trump has proven little urge for food for strengthening the relationships which have underpinned transatlantic relations because the finish of World War I, as an alternative lambasting conventional US companions on commerce and the price of safety.
He’s proven extra affinity for strongmen leaders who’ve eroded democracy of their nations, like Putin, with whom he spoke at a lunch on Sunday, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who sat alongside him at dinner on Saturday.
That’s left leaders, corresponding to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Macron, who put forth well-publicized shows of unity this weekend, to urgently warn of backsliding into historical past’s darkest moments.
Macron provided a clear message in regards to the risks of nationalism whereas internet hosting the ceremony commemorating the armistice Sunday. With Trump — a self-declared “nationalist” — seated stone-faced in entrance of him, Macron delivered a stinging rebuke of the US President’s “America First” agenda.
“Patriotism is the precise reverse of nationalism,” Macron mentioned. “Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. By saying ‘our pursuits first; who cares in regards to the others?’, we erase what a nation holds dearest, what offers it life, what makes it nice, and what makes it important — its ethical values.”
Macron later warned that “the previous demons” have resurfaced, declaring that “giving into the fascination for withdrawal, isolationism, violence and domination can be a grave error” for which future generations would maintain them accountable.