French President Emmanuel Macron and President Donald Trump got along well during Macron’s state visit to the United States. Things went downhill after that, though, and last month, at the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, he sharply criticized Trump’s “America First” policies.
Business Insider reported that on November 11, Macron said the following.
“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’s criticism infuriated Trump. The entire trip did not go well because the POTUS did not end up attending events honoring the soldiers who died during the first world war because it rained, leading to worldwide mockery.
However, Trump may get the last “laugh” in this war of words and ideas. Currently, the president’s approval rating sits around 46 percent in the U.S. whereas a mere 23 percent of people in France approve of the job Macron is doing there. That makes Trump’s approval double his French counterpart.
Since his words decrying Trump’s policies, Macron is dealing with his own unrest in France as 36,000 marching protesters converged on the Arc de Triomphe in a violence-filled riot that culminated in angry citizens smashing the statue of Marianne — the symbol of the French Revolution. An AP report called the unrest the worst uprising in more than a decade in France, and it left 110 people injured. Members of the French lower and middle class formed to express that the French president left them feeling unseen with his policies on skyrocketing diesel fuel taxes and the high cost of living. They wore bright yellow vests in an effort to be seen, which earned the group the name “Yellow Vests.”
Paris hit by worst riot in a decade during protest over rising taxes. Stores looted, cars burned, Arc de Triomphe sprayed with graffiti. https://t.co/ZMnZLVhy4c— AP Europe (@AP_Europe) December 2, 2018
The French president’s plan was to work to build a green economy for the country, but the immediate burden on the working and poor classes in France cannot sustain the sharply rising costs of the fuel tax. The backlash was so strong that Macron reversed the tax, but the reversal has not put a stop to the unrest in the country. The “Yellow Vests” plan to continue protesting this upcoming weekend.
Trump tweeted “his friend” and French counterpart yesterday.
“I am glad that my friend @EmmanuelMacron and the protestors in Paris have agreed with the conclusion I reached two years ago. The Paris Agreement is fatally flawed because it raises the price of energy for responsible countries while whitewashing some of the worst polluters in the world.”
For now, France braces for more protests in the coming days as Macron must work to find a way to strike a balance between morality in politics and something that also works for his citizens.