Donald Trump is in London for the NATO summit and considering the vocal disdain for the crucial military alliance he’s expressed in the past it’s hardly surprising that the meeting is off to a rocky start.
The president has frequently complained about U.S. contributions to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and even questioned the wisdom of Article 5 of its charter, the most important section which dictates that an attack on any member nation must be treated as an attack on all of them. His consistent efforts to undermine the alliance has been a godsend to Russia, for who destroying the alliance has long been a primary geopolitical goal. Without NATO, there’s no telling how expansionist and militarily aggressive Putin’s cryptocriminal empire could become. The annexation of Crimea from Ukraine was but a taste of what a Russia unopposed by NATO might attempt.
So with all that baggage hanging over his head, Trump sat down with French President Emmanuel Macron. The isolationist Trump and pro-Europe, pro-global liberal order Macron quickly found themselves at odds. While talking about ISIS, which Trump claims he has totally defeated, the American commander-in-chief was asked if France has committed to taking back its nationals who went to fight for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Trump conceded that he hadn’t asked Macron yet and then veered headfirst into a stunning political debacle.
“We have a tremendous amount of captured fighters, ISIS fighter over in Syria. And they’re all under lock and key but many are from France, many are from Germany, many are from UK. They’re mostly from Europe and some of the countries are agreeing. I have not spoken to the president about that,” Trump said before turning to Macron.
“Would you like some nice ISIS fighters?” Trump asked. “I can give them to you. You can take everyone you want,” he added.
Macron was visibly displeased with the joke or offer, whatever it was. Understandably, terrorism isn’t a light topic to most of the French, as they’ve suffered from a string of brutal, deadly attacks over the past few years. On top of the callous nature of Trump’s remarks, they’re also deeply hypocritical given the fact that his greenlighting of a Turkish invasion of Northeast Syria and betrayal of the Kurds led to the loosing of numerous ISIS prisoners.
“Let’s be serious,” Macron said in response to Trump. “A very large number of fighters you have on the ground are fighters coming from Syria, from Iraq, and the region. It is true that you have foreign fighters coming from Europe but this is a tiny minority of the overall problem we have in the region,” the French president added, fact-checking Trump in real-time.
“And I think number one priority—because it’s not yet finished—is to get rid of ISIS and these terrorist groups. This is our number one priority. And it’s not yet done, I’m sorry to say that. You still have fighters in this region, in Syria, and now in Iraq and more and more. And the whole destabilization of the region makes the situation more difficult to fix the situation against ISIS,” Macron went on, refuting the American president’s repeated claims that the U.S. has totally defeated ISIS.
While Macron systematically shredded some of Trump’s mendacious talking points, Trump himself just sat there glowering.
Watch the clip below.
President Trump and President Macron trade barbs over handling of foreign ISIS fighters:
“Would you like some nice ISIS fighters? I can give them to you. You can take every one you want.” pic.twitter.com/n7ICITIozD
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) December 3, 2019
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Rob Haffey is a writer, filmmaker, and winner of the ScreenCraft Writing Fellowship. He is a graduate of Drexel University.