President Trump had a heated exchange with French President Emmanuel Macron in London on Tuesday, asking the foreign leader if he would like to take back “some nice ISIS fighters” and taunting him for his “non-answer” — a back-and-forth that came hours after he challenged Macron’s critique of NATO.
“I have not spoken to the president about that — would you like some nice ISIS fighters?” President Trump asked Macron in front of reporters on the sidelines of the NATO summit. “I can give them to you, you can take every one you want.”
Macron urged his American counterpart to “be serious” and provided a broad answer about giving a greater push against ISIS. President Trump then took another jab at the French head of state.
“This is why he’s a great politician, because that’s one of the greatest non-answers I’ve ever heard,” he joked.
Mere hours before, President Trump criticized Macron’s “very, very nasty statement” that the U.S.’s recent actions in Syria contributed to the “brain death” of NATO.
“Nobody needs NATO more than France,” President Trump said. “It’s a very dangerous statement for them to make. Frankly, the one that benefits the least is the United States. We are helping Europe unite and go against a common foe — may not be a foe — I can't tell you.”
“It is a very tough statement to make when you have such difficulty in France when you look at what is going on,” he continued. “They have had a very rough year. You just can’t go around making statements like that about NATO. It is very disrespectful.”
“What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO,” Macron told The Economist in October in the wake of the White House’s decision to pull troops out of northeastern Syria. Macron stated that the United States appears to be “turning its back on us.”
“So as soon as you have a member who feels they have a right to head off on their own, granted by the United States of America, they do it,” he said in a reference to Turkey’s excursion into Syria following the troop withdrawal. “And that's what happened.”
On Tuesday, Macron repeatedly said that he and President Trump “agree” that NATO members other than the United States need to increase their contributions to the alliance.
NATO countries are supposed to commit at least two percent of their own GDP to the bloc’s defense, but several countries — including France and Germany — have spent less than that. The United States, meanwhile, has spent considerably more.
President Trump’s demand that NATO allies pay their share appears to have borne fruit. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told Congress earlier this year that allies are adding billions, with European allies and Canada projected to have spent an additional $100 billion by the end of next year.
“NATO has come a long way in three years and it's become very, very powerful and it's become I think a much fairer statement in terms of the United States,” President Trump said on Tuesday.
But President Trump and Macron locked horns on another issue: trade.
In response to Macron’s recent decision to levy a digital service tax on American companies such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter, the White House announced this week that it plans to slap tariffs of up to 100 percent on $2.4 billion worth of French products, including cheese, champagne, yogurt, and makeup.
“I’m not so in love with Facebook, Google, or Twitter — well, I do well on Twitter from the other side,” President Trump said of the planned tariffs. “But I don’t want France taxing American companies.”
In a meeting with President Trump, Macron said the tariffs are “not fair” and suggested that the United States would have to do the same to other European countries who have similarly taxed American tech companies.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called the U.S. tariff threat “simply unacceptable.... It’s not the behavior we expect from the United States toward one of its main allies.”
France is currently pushing for an international agreement intended to reduce corporations’ use of “tax havens” — countries that offer low corporate tax rates to foreign firms.
Le Maire said France will reimburse the tax if the United States agrees to the plan. In the meantime, the French finance minister said his country will retaliate if America goes through with the tariffs.
In a press conference on Tuesday, President Trump stood by his decision to protect American companies, even in the case of tech giants such as Facebook.
“They’re not my favorite people because they’re not exactly for me — but that’s OK,” he said. “I don’t care, they’re American companies and we want to tax American companies.… That's not for somebody else to tax.”
Photo: AP Images
Luis Miguel is a writer whose journalistic endeavors shed light on the Deep State, the immigration crisis, and the enemies of freedom. Follow his exploits on Facebook, Twitter, Bitchute, and at luisantoniomiguel.com.