Speaking to assembled world leaders at a commemorative event to mark 100 years since the end of World War I, French President Emmanuel Macron described nationalism as a "betrayal of patriotism".

By Daniel Herborn

Posted on November 12, 2018

“By saying: ‘Our interests first, who cares about the others,’ we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what gives it grace and what is essential: its moral values,” Macron said at the event.

Macron also warned of “old demons which are coming back to the surface” and said: “History sometimes threatens to take its sinister course once again.”

His speech called on world leaders to take lessons from the uneasy alliance that formed a century ago and to resist a drift towards nationalism and isolationist policy in the present day.

Macron’s speech didn’t mention Trump by name but was understood as a rebuke to the US President

Donald Trump had famously declared “I’m a nationalist” to a Republican Party rally in Houston, Texas just weeks ago.

“A globalist is a person that wants the globe to do well, frankly not caring about our country so much,” Trump had said. “You know what, we can’t have that. I’m a nationalist. OK? I’m a nationalist. Nationalist. Use that word.”

Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd previously told The CEO Magazine that Trump had embraced isolationism through a “greater concept of Fortress America and also questioning America’s traditional patterns of global engagement and automatic support for US allies”.

Speaking at the Paris Peace Forum later on 11 November, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was another world leader to call for a return to globalism as she told the audience: “Most of the challenges today cannot be solved by one nation alone, but together. That’s why we need a common approach.

“If isolation wasn’t the solution 100 years ago, how can it be today in such an interconnected world?”

Trump did not attend the Peace Forum.

Strained relations between the US and European leaders

Writing on Twitter after the commemorative event, Trump made no reference to Macron’s reproach. “Beautiful ceremony today in Paris,” he wrote. “Many World leaders in attendance. Thank you to @EmmanuelMacron, President of France!”

Relations between the two leaders have continued to be strained during Trump’s European visit. On 9 October local time, Trump expressed his anger on the possibility of European powers raising a military to protect itself against the US, China and Russia.

“Very insulting,” Trump wrote. “But perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO, which the U.S. subsidizes greatly!”

The US subsidising NATO has been one of Trump’s long-running bugbears, though fact-checking organisations have rejected his repeated claims that the US pays up to 90% of the operating cost of NATO.