Apparently, President Trump doesn’t want to remember the ties that bind the United States and one of our longest and most loyal allies, France.
Less than one week after Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron made a very public display of planting a tree from the battlefields of the Belleau Woods, the World War I battle site where nearly 2,000 U.S. soldiers were killed 100 years ago, the sapling has vanished from the White House’s South Lawn where the two presidents ceremoniously threw dirt around the planting.
Macron even sent a tweet to commemorate the event.
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100 years ago, American soldiers fought in France, in Belleau to defend our freedom. This oak tree (my gift to @realDonaldTrump) will be a reminder at the White House of these ties that bind us. pic.twitter.com/AUdVncaKRN
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) April 24, 2018
The BBC, the state news service of the United Kingdom one of our other major European allies, pointed out the disappearance of the oak sapling in an article on their website along with a photo of the now bare lawn where it once stood, a patch of yellowed grass the only indication of where the tree was planted.
While the White House did not offer the BBC an explanation of the reason behind the oak tree’s removal, speculation is running rampant.
The more political explanation circulating claims that the symbolic tree was removed after Macron’s well-received address to a joint session of Congress in which he implicitly criticized the Trump administration’s environmental policies, its lurch toward isolationism, and its misguided trade policy.
Botanical experts in France quoted by French radio outlet FranceInfo claims that the particular variety of oak from the Belleau Woods fares better when planted in the autumn allowing the roots to grow deeper to better withstand summer droughts. The radio station speculated that the tree may return by October.
The Huffington Post’s French edition quoted an unnamed official in Macron’s government as saying that the tree is actually under quarantine now due to U.S. Customs rules that require foreign plants to obtain a foreign phytosanitary certificate before being brought into the country. The official gave the tree a healthy prognosis.
However, since the tree is already in the country and was at least temporarily in the ground on the White House lawn, any potential invasive pests, other than the current occupant of the Oval Office, have already had their chance to escape into the wild.
Perhaps amateur botanists can check with ICE to see if the undocumented tree has been taken into custody, with the quarantine story merely a ruse to throw us off the scent of the real fate of the tree and of the ties that bind the United States and our French allies.
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