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Ethics & Religion
Column #1,943
November 14, 2018
Trump Embarrasses America
By Mike McManus

On the 100th anniversary of the signing of peace accords ending World War I, dozens of leaders from around the globe, wearing black, strode shoulder to shoulder, marching with umbrellas in the soaking rain down the Champs-Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe.

Among those who marched with French President Emmanuel Macron were German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

However, President Donald Trump was missing until the group reached the Arc de Triomphe, when he got out of a car, belatedly showing up, as did Russia President Vladimir Putin.

Bells at Notre Dame Cathedral tolled at 11 a.m., marking the signing of the armistice of a war in which 10 million troops perished.

Trump's visit to France was also marred by his decision a day earlier to scrap a planned visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery at the foot of the hill where the Battle of Belleau Wood was fought. The President blamed his absence to honor Americans who served and died - on the rain, though other world leaders publicly paid homage to Americans who died on the battlefield. The European press criticized Trump.

"The overall takeaway to many was a president turning away from the world, a man occupying the office of the leader of the free world who appeared withdrawn and unenthusiastic on the global stage," wrote The Washington Post.

More than any other nation, the United States was the architect of the peace that has endured for seven decades. Our Marshall Plan helped France and our former enemy, Germany, to rebuild after the war. NATO was the military arm that secured European peace against a possible Russian threat. We were the major architect of the United Nations. President Ronald Reagan boomed, "Tear down this wall" that divided Communist Germany from the freedom of West Berlin - which was torn down.

More recently, President Barack Obama negotiated a nuclear arms treaty with Iran and he led America to be one of nearly 200 countries to sign the Paris Climate Accord pledging to reduce carbon emissions to prevent runaway climate change.

Trump has withdrawn America from both accords. "I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris," he asserted though the U.S. is the world's second largest emitter of greenhouse gases. He also plans to withdraw from the landmark Cold War arms pact, the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which has reduced nuclear weapons by the U.S. and Russia, and even to withdraw from a UN program for refugees.

Trump has called himself a "nationalist," with an "America first" agenda.

French President Macron sternly addressed that issue in his Armistice Day remarks: "Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism by saying, `Our interest first. Who cares about the others?"

He asserted that the forces that led to World War I, "the old demons coming back to wreak chaos and death" have been resurfacing and declared that "giving into the fascination for withdrawal, isolationism, violence and domination would be a grave error that future generations would very rightly make us responsible for."

Macron argued that a global order based on liberal values is worth defending against those who have sought to disrupt this system. He said the millions who died in the Great War fought to defend the "universal values" of France and to reject the "selfishness of nations only looking after their own interests. Because patriotism is exactly the opposite of nationalism."

Amid growing divisions in Europe (such as the withdrawal of Britain from the European Union), Macron defended that institution and the United Nations, declaring that the "spirit of cooperation" has "defended the common good of the world."

While Macron knew his audience was worldwide, his remarks were a pointed rebuke of President Trump. He spoke in French as Trump listened to a translation, and clapped only tepidly afterward. He did not speak in public.

Trump has railed against what he calls the "rule of corrupt, power-hungry globalists," as he argued in Houston. "You know what a globalists is? A person that wants the globe to do well, frankly, not caring about our country."

Macron has, in effect given a rebuttal. As he told CNN's Fareed Zakaria, he called himself "a patriot" rather than a nationalist. "I'm a strong believer in cooperating between the different peoples, and I'm a strong believer that this cooperation is good for everybody."

Sadly, Trump disagrees.

Copyright (c) 2018 Michael J. McManus, a syndicated columnist and past president of Marriage Savers. To read past columns, go to Hit Search for any topic.

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