Donald Trump’s presence at the NATO summit in London has already morphed into another national embarrassment. During an appearance with French President Emmanuel Macron earlier today, Trump made a glib, offensive offer to give France “some nice ISIS fighters.” He claimed that many of the terrorists captured in Iraq and Syria are originally from Europe, naming France, Germany, and the UK as, particularly egregious sources.
“Would you like some nice ISIS fighters?” Trump asked. “I can give them to you. You can take everyone you want,” Trump said, looking directly at Macron.
Macron was visibly displeased. Understandably, terrorism isn’t a light topic to 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.
As Macron tore through Trump’s pathetic lies, the American president sat there silently stewing, clearly unsure how to respond and clearly hating every moment of it.
It turns out that incredibly tense, awkward interaction wasn’t the only bit of friction to emerge between the two at the summit. Earlier today, before the tense sit down between Macron and Trump, the American president made an appearance with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. Trump was asked by reporters about comments Macron made about NATO in The Economist last month.
The French President lamented what he called “brain death” within the alliance and attributed this decline to a lack of leadership and commitment from the United States, its primary architect and proponent. He said that the alliance “only works if the guarantor of last resort functions as such. I’d argue that we should reassess the reality of what NATO is in light of the commitment of the United States.” Clearly, the remarks were an indictment of US leadership under Trump.
When asked about Macron’s observations today, the American president responded in typical petty fashion.
“Turkey responded by saying he [Macron] was brain dead which is interesting,” Trump said, seeming to cosign the insult of Macron lobbed by brutal Turkish dictator Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who said that Macron should have his “own brain death checked” because his comments are “suitable only to people like you who are in a state of brain death.”
“Now, NATO serves a great purpose,” Trump went on, despite the fact that he has repeatedly criticized it and undermined its stability on numerous occasions. “It got to be unfair for the United State because the United States was paying a disproportionate amount and I heard that President Macron said NATO is brain dead and I think that’s very insulting to a lot of different of forces including a man that does a very good job at running NATO,” Trump said.
“No, it has a great purpose especially with the fact that NATO is becoming much more flexibile in terms of what it looks at. But I was very surprised, I’d like to ask you what did you think? He made a statement about NATO being brain dead,” Trump said, turning to Stoltenberg, who then gave a far more diplomatic defense of NATO.
Watch the clip below.
President Trump: "NATO serves a great purpose. It got to be unfair for the United States because the United States was paying a disproportionate amount. I heard that President Macron said NATO is brain dead. I think that's very insulting…" pic.twitter.com/1Ftn5R1Pua
— CSPAN (@cspan) 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.