There he goes again. Donald Trump has insulted our French allies, apparently in retaliation for Emmanuel Macron’s sensible speech this past weekend that assailed nationalism as divisive and dangerous to world peace. In his retaliatory tweet today, the Trumpet had the following to say about France and its war effort in World Wars I and II:
Emmanuel Macron suggests building its own army to protect Europe against the U.S., China and Russia. But it was Germany in World Wars One & Two – How did that work out for France? They were starting to learn German in Paris before the U.S. came along. Pay for NATO or not!
Suggesting the French were learning German because they couldn’t or wouldn’t fight is more than insulting: it reveals Donald Trump’s utter ignorance of history.
First, consider World War I. The French lost roughly 1.4 million men in that war. More than any other country, France should be credited for defeating German militarism. Indeed, France served as America’s “arsenal of democracy” in that war, supplying U.S. troops with weaponry and helping to train them for war as well. The French, after all, had fought the war for nearly four years before American troops showed up in large numbers. Yes, the U.S. military helped to stiffen French and British resistance in 1918 and contributed to turning the tide toward victory, but overall France deserves tremendous credit and deep respect both for its victory and for the enormity of its sacrifice.
Now, let’s turn to World War II. It was the devastation of France in World War I (along with interwar political divisions and an overly defensive mentality) that contributed to its relatively quick defeat in World War II. Because of this defeat, France paid a high price indeed under German occupation. Some French people collaborated; many more resisted and paid for that resistance with their lives.
Trump insults the memory of millions of French men and women who died resisting German militarism in both world wars, and to what end? Just so he can score cheap points with his base by tweeting ignorant insults against an ally that fought side-by-side with Americans in both world wars?
The French, of course, helped to secure American independence in the 18th century, a favor you could say we repaid during the closing stages of World War I. And while World War II was a disaster for French arms, there was no lack of fighting spirit among major sectors of the French populace.
Suggesting the French were studying German because they were militarily inept until Americans rode to the rescue does more than a grave disservice to history. It gravely insults the French people. Such is the idiocy of Donald Trump.