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Trump has last laugh on ‘America First’ after Macron Yellow Vest U-turn

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trump macron
Trump is twice as popular
in the US as Macron is in France.

Christophe Petit Tesson/Pool via AP

  • French President Emmanuel Macron rebuked US President
    Donald Trump for putting the interests of US citizens above
    demonstrating moral values in November.
  • Three weeks later, Paris was set ablaze by thousands of
    working-class protestors who objected to Macron promoting an
    environmentally-friendly fuel tax.
  • Macron is about half as popular in France as Trump is
    in the US. Macron has set himself up as the enemy of
    nationalist leaders across Europe, but they’re more popular
    than him.
  • The Trump administration called on Tuesday for Europe
    to ditch the leadership of the United Nations and the European
    Union and instead join the US in putting the interests of their
    own citizens first.
  • As Macron backpedals on his high-minded fuel tax
    without appeasing the protestors, it looks like Trump is having
    the last laugh. 

French President Emmanuel Macron stood at the Arc de Triomphe
last month and rebuked President Donald Trump’s
“America First” policy
at a ceremony marking the 100th
anniversary of the end of World War I.

It was a move that, by all accounts, infuriated Trump.

Trump went home from Paris being roundly mocked for the wide
perception that he had let rainfall keep him from
honoring fallen soldiers
, and fumed at Macron on Twitter.


Read more:

Trump mocks France’s World War II record as relations with Macron
deteriorate into confrontation

But three weeks later protestors stormed the Arc in
central Paris
in a massive, violent riot that saw the
monument defaced with slogans calling for Macron’s resignation
and leaving the statue of Marianne, the symbol of France’s
revolution, with its face smashed in.

“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is
a betrayal of patriotism. By saying our interests first, who
cares about the others, we erase what a nation holds dearest,
what gives it life, what makes it great and what is essential:
Its moral values,” Macron said on November 11.

His remarks were widely seen as a slap in the face to Trump. But
they fell on deaf ears, even among his own countrymen.

France’s lower and middle classes in the intervening weeks
launched a massive mobilization that saw 36,000 marching in
colors in the street.


Read more:

Who are the ‘Yellow Vests’ rioting in Paris, and what do they
want from Macron?

The French who felt unseen, who felt Macron had not put their
interests first, dawned high-visibility yellow vests to protest
their president’s raising taxes on diesel fuel, a move designed
to make the country’s economy more green.

While Macron may have sought to improve the lot of all French
people by building a green economy that could attract morally
sound investments from around the world, the tax increase
immediately hurt the suburban and rural working class. In return,
it provides only theoretical, roundabout path towards their
long-term gain.

Macron’s high-minded rhetoric fell flat among these workers, and,
after the destruction at the Arc, Macron made the first major
reversal of his presidency and called off the increase in
tax
, beaten by protests he had initially dismissed.

But Macron’s U-turn wasn’t enough, and the Yellow Vests, as they’ve
come to be known, have planned more protests for the coming
weekend.

“X country name first”


g7 leaders trump merkel summit
Trump
with other G7 leaders at a summit in June.

German Federal Government/Jesco Denzel via Associated
Press


Any working theory of international relations understands that
nations and actors put their own interests first.

Whereas Trump proudly trumpets “America First,” Macron
essentially said he’s more interested in signalling his country’s
moral values than advancing the interests of his citizenry.

Today Macron’s approval rating stands around 23%, while Trump doubles that
at about 46%.

Macron has positioned himself as the enemy of nationalist leaders
rising around Europe, but leaders like Hungary’s anti-refugee
Viktor Orban and Italy’s Matteo Salvini remain more popular than
him in their respective countries.

While Trump has often clashed with European leaders over his
unilateral decisions to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on
climate change or the Iran deal in the name of American
interests, Europe’s unity and leadership has weakened terribly.

Macron’s chief ally, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, also lost
recent elections and will soon end her 13-year long reign.

In a speech to Europe’s leadership in Brussels, Belgium, Trump’s
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blasted multinational,
multilateral institutions like the UN and the EU as ineffective,
failing to address the concerns of the people.

Pompeo called on “noble nations” around the world to put their
interests first and “reform or eliminate” multinational bodies
that don’t work as intended.

Pompeo pointed to China and Russia disregarding treaties and
asserting their national wills as evidence that undemocratic
countries were reaping the benefits of the liberal world order,
while Europe failed to act.


Read more:

Trump’s mockery of Obama for his response to Crimea backfires
with a new Ukraine crisis

On Twitter, Trump teased Macron as having
only now come around to the realization that imposing costs on
workers to pay a grand vision of global change ultimately proved
untenable.

While champions of morality in politics may have celebrated
Macron’s rebuke of Trump’s “America First” policies, which are
often seen as inhumane and turning away from the US’s
much-publicized values of compassion and openness, the massive
mobilization of the Yellow Vests and the downfall of liberal
leaders across Europe may give Trump the last laugh.

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