The celebrations surrounding the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I were meant to be a testimony to the peace, prosperity, and comity that now exists among the nations who were on both sides of those dreadfully bloody hostilities.
Instead, however, the petulant behavior of an American president who seemed hellbent on undermining any messages of unity with his selfish actions and hostile demeanor exposed the deepening rift between the United States and what were formerly its closest allies in Europe.
France, in particular, took pains to uphold the traditional internationalist values of strength through solidarity and cooperation that has been so foolishly repudiated by Donald Trump since taking office.
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Not only did French President Emmanual Macron explicitly rebuke the doctrine of nationalism that Trump had so recently openly embraced as his shameless philosophy, but he also made sure to keep the American president well separated from his Russian patron Vladimir Putin at the working luncheon of global leaders so that their machinations wouldn’t take attention away from the solemn memorial to the fallen soldiers that was meant to be the main focus of the weekend’s events.
The French army even subtly trolled Trump’s decision to skip a visit to a cemetery containing the remains of American war dead from “The Great War” because of rain with a Twitter post that reminded the world that real men don’t shirk their duties due to a little inclement weather.
Trump being Trump, he immediately began the one kind of war with France that doesn’t require congressional approval, a battle royale on Twitter, attacking France over what he perceived as its insufficient funding for NATO defense, over trade and tariff policies, and goading Macron personally by pointing out the French president’s plummeting approval ratings amongst his country’s voters. (Macron’s popularity in France has fallen to just 25%. Trump’s approval numbers in France are only 10% positive, so perhaps that wasn’t the best avenue of attack.)
Rather than reply directly to the deranged rantings of the ego-wounded American president, the French government again turned to a more subtle form of trolling Trump in response to his verbal barrage: a tweet pointing out that, unlike the president himself, the French Embassy had bothered to actually go to Arlington National Cemetery on Veteran’s Day to lay a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, just as every other American president prior to Trump traditionally has done until now.
Yesterday we participated in a ceremony at @ArlingtonNatl to honor the sacrifices of soldiers during #WWI by laying a wreath on the tomb of the #UnknownSoldier. #VeteransDay pic.twitter.com/ZQPbZwMSf6
— French Embassy U.S. (@franceintheus) November 12, 2018
France deserves a hearty thank you from the citizens of the United States for honoring our military heroes when our own president failed to do so out of his own selfishness and disdain. It’s obvious that they’ve outmaneuvered and outclassed Trump in the best way possible as they demonstrate what it means to have values and how to exemplify them.
Hopefully, America will soon again have a president that has values that we can be proud of and who exemplifies them to the world. It can’t happen soon enough.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.