U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with French President Emmanuel Macron prior to their meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris on November 10 | Christophe Petit-Tesson/AFP via Getty Images
Politico 11 Nov 2018
PARIS — It was an awkward truce to avert a Twitter war, a day before the big Armistice Day commemoration in Paris.
French President Emmanuel Macron and U.S. President Donald Trump, meeting at the Elysée Palace on Saturday morning, appeared to smooth over any differences after the visiting American took offense on Friday to comments Macron had made earlier in the week.
Macron’s comments were perhaps provocative — but not for the reasons cited by Trump. Many other European leaders do not support the idea of an EU army, which many view as an overly integrationist approach to European common security and defense policy. It can be a subject of heated disagreement in Brussels.
Macron told Europe 1: “We will not protect the European if we don’t decide to have a real European army. Faced with Russia, which is at our borders and which showed us that it could be threatening, we must have a Europe that defends itself more on its own, without only depending on the United States and in a more sovereign way.”
He also castigated Trump for withdrawing from the INF treaty. “Who will be the main victim?” Macron asked. “Europe and its security.”
EU leaders often speak in the same terms that Macron used in the interview, citing Russia and China, as well as Trump’s evident skepticism about transatlantic cooperation, as security threats. While it’s not exactly clear what troubled Trump, or if he had seen a full translation of Macron’s remarks, any notion of actual hostilities between the U.S. and Europe is preposterous, and it is impossible that the French president was suggesting such.
Indeed, Macron’s comments would seem to fit rather well with Trump’s repeated and often bombastic demands that European allies spend more money on military and defense, and that they meet a NATO spending target of 2 percent of annual GDP.
But Trump, rather than claiming victory and endorsing Macron’s approach, instead tweeted that Macron’s remarks were “very insulting.”