November 17, 2018

Asked if President Donald Trump’s highly critical tweets about French president Emmanuel Macron were unpleasant and inelegant, Macron elegantly replied, `you summed up everything.’

Yes, they were unpleasant and inelegant, to put it mildly. Worse, Trump’s tweet barrage came on the same day France was commemorating the murder of 130 Parisians by gunmen in 2015. A senior French press official claimed Trump ‘lacked common decency.’ Making matters worse, Trump refused to show up at a graveside memorial for American GI’s killed in the bloody, 1918 Belleau Wood battle. He went the following day to another memorial closer to Paris.

A major faux pas, Monsieur le President Trump. You need some foreign policy pros instead of the amateur ideologues who have made a huge mess of the nation’s affairs and image.

This row arose after Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed the European Parliament in Strasbourg and called for a common European army to ‘complement’ NATO.

Earlier, Chancellor Merkel stated that Europe could no longer depend on the US for its protection.

Merkel’s frank talk was clearly a slap in the face to the prickly Trump, whose aggressive policies have put the US in confrontation with Russia, China, Iran, Turkey, Venezuela, Cuba and much of the Muslim world.

In effect, Germany and France, Europe’s two big powers, were declaring independence from US hegemony seven decades after the end of World War II. Many Europeans – and certainly Germans – consider their nations still militarily and politically occupied by the American Imperium. How else could the US National Security spy agency (NSA) get away with tapping Angela Merkel’s cell phone with nary a German protest?

Given Russia’s military and financial feebleness (a defense budget less than one tenth of the US), what reason is there for a major US military presence from Spain to the Baltic and Black Sea? There are still US military bases in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany (34 bases), Belgium, Holland, Britain, Turkey, Denmark, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Romania, Kosovo, Greece and soon Poland.

Large parts of Europe are still militarily occupied by the US. Amazingly, the European Union, the world’s most important economic power, has very little self-defense capability. Instead, the US-runs and finances the lion’s share of NATO. Just as during the old Cold War, the Warsaw Pact was run from Moscow, so NATO is directed by Washington, and is a major component of US global power.

Nations that do not have their own military forces have very little sovereignty. Costa Rica is one charming exception. Great powers like France, Britain and Germany must command a good portion of their own military forces or join them in a common armed force. This is what Merkel and Macron were proposing, to Trump’s fury.

During the 1950’s, Europeans agreed to NATO as much in fear of a recurrence of the horrors of two European wars as fear of Soviet invasion, though the latter was very real at the time. Even the Swiss built fortifications designed to stop an invasion by the Soviet Red Army, and France began work to up-gun and reinforce the Maginot Line defenses.

The angry Trump fired back by reminding France that it was rescued in two world wars by the United States, had major economic problems, and could not trust the Germans. This is a favorite theme of French-hating, know-nothing conservatives and neocons. I suspect their hatred of France comes from being mistreated as tourists by rude waiters in Paris restaurants and sneered at by snooty French as uncultured boors and rustics. Trump’s core supporters – Evangelical
Christians – mostly regard French and other Europeans as degenerate, godless, Christian-haters.

They conveniently forget, or don’t know, that French soldiers and sailors delivered decisive victories over British forces during the American Revolution. A key cause of the French Revolution was national bankruptcy caused by King Louis’ heavy spending on military help to the US war of independence.

When I’m in Metz, France, I always go to salute the statue of the Marquis de Lafayette who led French forces helping the American Revolution. Without French help, Americans might be today caught up in the ghastly Brexit mess.

NATO provides huge geopolitical influence to Washington and enormous amounts of military sales. Small wonder the US rages when any mention of an independent European military is voiced. The idea assails America’s domination of Europe and the use of NATO to impose its will on the Mideast, Africa and western Asia.

Ironically, Trump’s evident hatred for Europe and calls by his neocon Praetorian Guard for the US to dominate the entire globe have made Europe turn away from its old subservience to Washington and talk about real independence. But building true Euro-armed forces will be frightfully expensive and politically fraught. Watching EU squabbles over farm laws and other economic issues hardly inspires confidence. But the EU must have its own defense capabilities if it is to escape permanent thralldom to the United States.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2018

This post is in: France, NATO, USA


  1. snaidamast says:


    I believe the following statement by you is either inaccurate or misleading…

    “Given Russia’s military and financial feebleness (a defense budget less than one tenth of the US),”

    The Russian Federation now produces some of the finest military equipment in the world while having some finest trained troops to support them.

    Many military analysts have weighed in on the fact that US military prowess is nothing more than a “paper tiger”. Even several NATO commanders have openly admitted that NATO could not defeat Russia in a conventional conflict…

    Steve Naidamast
    Sr. Software Engineer/Military Historian-Analyst

    • Ya… but, do you believe NATO commanders? They have a vested interest in being ‘weak’… more money and bigger budgets. The US would like to foist this added cost off on the ‘other’ members. The Americans are almost the sole beneficiaries… they should foot the bill.
      I think that Europe should leave NATO and form their own military; this comes at a price. The several hundred American based scattered throughout the world put a lot of money into countries economies.
      I also think that Canada should leave. It costs money that could be used for health or education, with no gain. Contrary to the new NAFTA, we should be developing markets with Europe, Russia and China; they would not treat as as shabbily as the Americans have.
      NATO is just an American based organisation to push the Americans globally. It’s long since passed it usefulness.

  2. Worse than unpleasant and inelegant, Trump’s remarks about Macron and France proved that the US president is an obnoxious boor. (Like Eliza Doolittle in “My Fair Lady”, after the Ascot race fiasco, Trump is ready for nothing more than a canal barge.) He may have lots of money, but he obviously has no class. Trump has already signalled that he wants to end the Pax Americana that has prevailed in Europe for the past 70 plus years, so he should not be surprised that Macron and Merkel are calling for the development of a joint European army. Europe should certainly plan on developing its own joint army and tell the US quite plainly that it is free to reduce its troop presence on that continent and close as many bases as it wants, chiefly because it should not and cannot count on the Americans to ride to its defence in the event of a confrontation with Russia. Moreover, Europe should never have allowed itself to become so economically dependent in the first place on the substantial presence of the US bases that are stationed there. Yes, it will be very expensive for most European nations to build up the joint forces sufficiently to wean themselves off of dependence on the US and it won’t happen quickly, but it’s a price that these countries have to pay if truly they want to be independent of the Americans.

    • I agree with you except, “…it is free to reduce its troop presence on that continent and close as many bases as it wants…”
      This should read, “…it is should reduce its troop presence on that continent and close its bases…” There’s no such thing as being partially pregnant.

  3. Mike Smith says:

    From Smedley Butlers “war is a racket” to William Appleman Williams ” The Tragedy of American Diplomacy ” or John Perkins ” Confessions of an Economic Hit Man ” The intent and means of US foreign policy has been written about enough it is not really a mystery … the mystery to me anyway is why so many nations simply put up with such behavior… Perhaps the greatest thing to come out of the Trump Presidency is once subservient allies are looking to stand of their own feet again, instead of simply playing nice while being walked on like they did with Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, et all they are finally finding a voice… Trump may have his true legacy… Making the World Great Again.

  4. Mike Smith says:

    Viewing Russian / Soviet history with the west in hindsight… were they even the threat that was widely reported to the public over the years? If you believe the history books most of us grew up with, the expansionist Communist threat was going to destroy the world… How much of that was propaganda and how much of that was provoked by the West, the US and UK in particular ? Starting with the Northern Russian Expedition where the West actually tried to intervene in the Russia Revolution where the British used aerial delivered chemical weapons to grossly over reporting both the numbers and capabilities of Soviet forces throughout the Cold War… It seems to me that the West was at least equally to blame. or even more on point provoked much of the Cold War in order to justify their own agendas, which of course included dominance in European affairs. Even more recently we have seen the US backed coup in the Ukraine which was preceded by a US undersecretary of state in a intercepted and released phone conversation telling the Ukrainians who would be permitted by the US to be in their government and screw what the EU thought of it ( and Hillary Clinton cries foul over interference in US politics ? ) Europe needs to run its own affairs, to do that they need the US to stop creating conflicts to justify their continued presence. Sending the US Military home would only be the start, but a good start none the less.

  5. Trump made a total ass of himself and greatly embarrassed the US as a nation. Most Americans are ignorant of this. For the benefit of the planet, he should have his computer taken away and he should be put on a no fly list.
    France and Germany are too ‘sophisticated’ to reply, in kind, to Trump’s ‘chatter’. They should not be overly concerned because they know the source. He treats his own people in the same disgusting fashion.
    I loved the military training photo with some French soldiers training in the rain, and the caption, “Il y a de la pluie, mais c’est pas grave. On reste motive” (There is rain, but it’s not serious. One remains motivated), ridiculing his lack of attendance due to the rain. I figured it was D^3s (Draft Dodger Donald) bone spurs acting up because of the dampness. Total disrespect for the French.
    It was also telling that when Putin showed up late that Trump beamed, while those around him scowled. This shows where his international interests are.
    To make matters worse, he’s screwing with the essential fabric of the US. Putting a toad, with real warts, on the Supreme Court of the US and installing a lackey as Attorney General. This is all done with the blessing of the Republican based Senate. It’ s obvious they are not doing their jobs or upholding the American Constitution. Americans don’t seem to care. As long as the status quo is maintained, they are as ‘happy as pigs in sh*t’.
    Europe should ditch NATO, kick the US off their territory, and create their own independent defence. The US should pay the cost for NATO because they are the main beneficiaries. The US has become more autocratic and untrustworthy (This precedes Trump). With their own defence, they can trust it to come to their defence in the event it is required rather than rely on the vagarities of the Americans. Time for the Americans to ‘pack up their tents’.
    The Americans seem to think that they won the two world wars. They came in at the end to reap the spoils. Capitalists to the end. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Churchill had to meet with Roosevelt in 1943 (I think) to get him to stop American companies from supplying the Germans. This seems to have been conveniently forgotten.
    Trump was too ignorant to catch Macron’s critique, which was tastefully executed. Reminds me of ‘Little Rocket Man’s’ use of the term Dotard, which Trump hasn’t outgrown (Kim’s reference impressed me; being vilified by the West, I had never considered that he had a quality education). You don’t want to let on that your enemies are smarter than you. I think Merkel’s critique went over his head.
    Time for the American circus to move on… back to their own territory. I’m more concerned about the Americans than I am of China, Russia, North Korea, or Iran.

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