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Trump Targets French President Macron In A Series Of Angry Tweets


This morning, French President Emmanuel Macron was the latest target of a series of angry tweets from President Donald Trump. Trump highlighted Macron's recent statement calling for a European army to help protect the continent. He also cited Macron's low popularity with French voters, and he complained about the high tariffs France has imposed on American wine.

This all follows President Trump's visit to Paris over the weekend, where he joined other world leaders to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley joins us now from Paris to talk about the latest. Hey, Eleanor.


CHANG: Give us a sense of the tone of some of these tweets from Trump.

BEARDSLEY: They were angry. And I'm going to read you the most insulting one for the French. It says, Emmanuel Macron suggests building its own army to protect Europe against the U.S., China and Russia. But it was Germany in World War I and II. How did that work out for France? They were starting to learn German in Paris before the U.S. came along. Pay for NATO or not.

CHANG: Has President Macron responded to any of this?

BEARDSLEY: No, he has not. In a background briefing, one of Macron's advisers said, first of all, they're glad that President Trump is interested in European history. And then he said the French president sees no need to respond to tweets clearly destined for an American domestic audience and that the Franco-American relationship is good. And he also reminded reporters that this misunderstanding about a European army was already settled last weekend when Trump came to Europe and already tweeted about it. And he said, you know, a European army is not to protect from the U.S., but it's about sharing the burden of defending Europe with the U.S.

CHANG: What about the French public? Are they engrossed by this spat?

BEARDSLEY: Let me tell you. The news channels have exploded and can talk of nothing else. And analysts say this is all about Trump's visit here this past weekend. They say, first of all, he's jealous because President Macron successfully united more than 70 world leaders under the Arc de Triomphe in a grand, moving ceremony. And secondly, it wasn't about him. Trump imagined that he would be visiting American military cemeteries with Macron. Well, first of all, Trump missed his chance to visit the cemetery and battle site at Belleau Wood. And the trip was canceled for weather. But it was just drizzling, so there's been huge criticism of that mostly from the U.S. that Trump should have had a backup plan. And it's not that far from Paris.

So in the end, the whole thing was not about Trump. It was about Macron and his German counterpart, Chancellor Angela Merkel. They got all the attention. The former bitter enemies are now great friends and, you know, uniting Europe.

CHANG: What does all of that mean, then, for U.S.-French relations going forward?

BEARDSLEY: It means the honeymoon is over. That love from July 2017 when Trump came and had the military parade on Bastille Day - that's over. And also, the French people are going to rally around him in solidarity. And he is unpopular, but now he'll probably become more popular. And also, people are saying that this tweet will strengthen the French and the German friendship. Merkel's been a little bit hesitant to take European integration too far. But now she's behind it. And today in the European Parliament, she said that she's in agreement to the idea of a European army.

CHANG: That's NPR's Eleanor Beardsley. Thanks so much, Eleanor.

BEARDSLEY: You're welcome, Ailsa. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eleanor Beardsley began reporting from France for NPR in 2004 as a freelance journalist, following all aspects of French society, politics, economics, culture and gastronomy. Since then, she has steadily worked her way to becoming an integral part of the NPR Europe reporting team.