Nov 26th, 2018, 09:24 AM

Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron: the End of the Bromance?

By Annelyse Gaston-Carrere
Image credit: The White House/Flickr
On Tuesday 13 November, the day of commemoration of the Paris attacks, Donald Trump decided to aim at France and its President through his biggest weapon: Twitter.

The world has been witnessing the unexpected friendship that is rising between French President Emmanuel Macron and American President Donald Trump. Over the last few months, both Presidents talked to each other often and Trump was even invited to the military parade on July 14. Trump often said on television that he saw Macron as a friend and France as one of its oldest allies. However, recent tensions have arisen and it looks like their close relationship might take a hit. Trump's tweets on Tuesday only made it worse and makes one truly wonder about  Trump's statement of Macron as his "friend".

Even though the President did not wish to say anything about the tweets and their timeliness, Macron's spokesmen and France's population had many things to say. Benjamin Griveaux, a French government spokesman, stated that this was the day marking the murder of 130 of our people and that common decency would have been appreciated. A supposed friend of Macron, Trump did not look like he cared about the tragedy that happened three years ago in France. 

The reasons for Trump's tweets are unclear as he had the opportunity to speak about these issues and concerns when he was invited last weekend in France for Armistice day.

Trump's Tweets 

The first tweet posted Tuesday was about the creation of a European army. The American President was invited last weekend in Paris for Armistice day. Upon arrival, he read a quote from Macron stating the need for a European Army that would protect itself from China, Russia, and the USA.

There has been a misunderstanding from this quote. Macron had said that the old continent must be protected from China, Russia, and the USA but in the cyberspace domain. In addition, the French President had explained that Europe did need a real army of itself to stop over-relying on the United States and share the NATO burden. The USA spends a lot more money on NATO compared to others. It spends $706 billion compared to $52 billion for France. Making a statement to the public this weekend after talking with Macron, Trump had said he was glad they had reached an agreement and was supportive of a stronger Europe and a share of the burden for NATO. 

Clearly, on Tuesday the American President still had an issue with the idea of a European army and still does not understand that Europe is not trying to protect itself from the United States but wants to mainly prevent conflicts within its continent, especially with Russia. But why tweet it? The weekend's conversation seemed to have left the President upset and what better way than to post it on Twitter.

The second comment Trump decided to make was about Macron's popularity as a President. I'm not confident that one should attack and insult a so-called friend even more so if he spent the last weekend with Macron and his wife. Nevertheless, his statement is true. Macron has one of the lowest poll ratings and is currently around 30% but let's not forget that Trump's popularity is currently at 38% which is not far from Macron. This statement is unnecessary and has no valid reason for why this statement now. Both Presidents do not have great popularity in their countries so why attack this in particular and why now? What's the point?

The last Tweet attacking Trump's famous friend is regarding the wine industry. Trump states that France is being too hard on its import tariffs of American wine. We cannot deny this as Trump is right. French bottles imported to the United States have taxed 5 to 14 cents per bottle. In France, American wine is taxed between 11 and 29 cents per bottles. However, things need to be clarified.

First, it is important to state that France is not the one imposing the tariffs but the European Union is. All the country members of the Union impose the same tariffs on all importing products. Directly attacking France seems unfair when we know that France is not the only one to be blamed for it.

Another aspect is the criterions for the tariffs. For France, the tariffs depend on the alcohol strength and its origin, whether it comes from the European Union or not. The European Union created in 1992 the Appellation d'Origine Protégée (Protected Designation of Origin). This is to recognize the geographical origin and know-how of the terroirs of Europe. It also proves that the ingredients of the product have all been produced in the same geographical area and that the product has been processed in the same place.

In this sense, it could explain why the tariffs could be different than U.S.'s. In the U.S. the tariffs are based on the alcohol strength and the bottle sizes so the tariffs are slightly different but it does not explain for certain why the tariffs are so high. Negotiations should be made between the United States and the European Union to reach an agreement on what tariffs should be. 

Trump and Twitter

Everyday Trump has something to say, and his primary weapon to attack his competitors and neighbors is through Twitter. For him, Twitter is the best way for a rant and leaves room for criticizing everyone he disagrees with. I'm not sure this is the best method for a President to express his ideas and concerns about specific topics and make it global. His tweets have a significant impact on everyone and he knows this but continues to do so. 

Trump had the opportunity to clear and talk to Macron about this last weekend but left the country by saying he had agreed with Macron on what had been said and yet he clashed with the French President as soon as he arrived home. Why? That is still what I try to understand. 

All Emmanuel Macron had to say was that he prefers to have a direct and honest discussion rather than diplomacy through Twitter. It sure looks like the great friendship between the two Presidents is at risk. Who will be Trump's next victim on Twitter?