November 5, 2018
Macron’s Response to Trump: ‘I Do Not Do Policy or Diplomacy by Tweets’
By Alissa J. Rubin
PARIS — The French president responded Wednesday evening to President Trump’s scathing personal attack on him, declining to lash out and instead taking the long view.
In a television interview on the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, which President Emmanuel Macron was visiting, he made clear that he was not going to respond in kind, but hew to both countries’ longstanding common interests.
“I do not do policy or diplomacy by tweets,” he said.
When it comes to Foreign Policy and Diplomacy, President Donald Trump is just an Apprentice. Back to School. –Din Merican
“At each important moment in our history we have been allies, and between allies there is respect and I do not want to hear the rest,” he said after detailing French-American mutual support since 1776, when the Marquis de Lafayette fought with the struggling 13 colonies in the Revolutionary War — an alliance that has lasted through today’s war on terrorism.
Mr. Trump’s tweets were aimed at his domestic constituency, Mr. Macron said. He is “doing American politics,” Mr. Macron said.
Mr. Macron was responding to questions from a reporter from TFI, the French network, about the rapid-fire series of angry messages posted by Mr. Trump two days after returning from France, where he had attended ceremonies hosted by Mr. Macron commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.
Responding in part to the French president’s sharp critique of nationalism, Mr. Trump highlighted the French leader’s low approval rating and accused him of trying to “change the subject” to avoid talking about France’s unemployment levels, which have remained close to 10 percent despite economic and labor overhauls.
Mr. Trump also seized on previously misreported information about an interview Mr. Macron gave last week suggesting that Europe needed its own army to defend itself from the United States. In fact, Mr. Macron said in the interview that France and Europe had to defend themselves better from cyberattacks originating in Russia, China and even the United States. He spoke later about Europe needing its own army.
Although Mr. Macron appeared to want to stay above the fray, he did not back down on his advocacy for a European defense force.
He said it was not a rejection of NATO or France’s alliance with the United States, but a guarantor of France’s “sovereignty” and would give France and other European countries the ability to help individual European countries, should they be in need. He mentioned, as examples, Poland and Greece.
“Allies are not vassals,” Mr. Macron said.Earlier in the day in the first official response to Mr. Trump’s tweets, the government spokesman, Benjamin Griveaux, told reporters in a weekly briefing that Mr. Trump lacked “common decency” in launching his Twitter broadsides on the third anniversary of terrorist attacks in and near Paris that left 130 people dead.
The French did not respond to the tweets on Tuesday in order to avoid taking domestic attention away from the commemorations.
“Yesterday was November 13, when we commemorate the murder of 130 citizens three years ago in Paris and St.-Denis. So I will reply in English: Common decency would have been the appropriate thing.”
The attacks by the Islamic State were the most lethal in the country since World War II. Many French people were taken aback by the tone of Mr. Trump’s comments, which the French newspaper Le Monde called “violent.”
However, some people observed that Mr. Trump was simply treating Mr. Macron the way he has treated other allies who had hosted him. Among them were Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, whom Mr. Trump derided just after the Group of 7 summit meeting as “very dishonest and weak” and making “false statements.”