President Trump on Tuesday slammed French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent rebuke of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), pointing out that the history of France shows that it is the country most in need of the military protection afforded by the now 70-year-old alliance.
In a London meeting alongside NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Trump reacted to Macron’s foolish comments to The Economist magazine in early November where he claimed that recent U.S. troop actions in Syria are contributing to the “brain death” of the NATO military alliance.
Trump said Macron made a “very, very nasty statement” which was “very disrespectful” to the 28 countries who are members of the alliance.
“Nobody needs NATO more than France,” Trump said, alluding to France being invaded twice during both World Wars.
“It’s a very dangerous statement for them to make,” Trump said. “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,” Trump continued. “They have had a very rough year. You just can’t go around making statements like that about NATO. It is very disrespectful.”
Macron’s remarks came weeks after Turkey – a member of NATO – invaded northern Syria.
“What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO,” Macron told magazine in the wake of the United States’ decision to withdraw troops from northeast Syria. He said the U.S. 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,” Macron said, referring to Turkey’s military offensive into Syria following the troop withdrawal. “And that’s what happened.”
Speaking Tuesday, Trump suggested he could see France “breaking off” from NATO but did not elaborate further.
“It is a very, very nasty statement. I think they have a very high unemployment rate in France. France is not doing well economically at all,” Trump said. He pointed to the yellow vest movement in which demonstrators took to the streets to protest government tax reforms burdening the middle class.
Trump also slammed Macron’s recent decision to impose a French digital services tax on American companies, including Facebook, Google and Twitter.
The White House this week announced that the tax “discriminates” against U.S. companies and will be met with tariffs of up to 100 percent on $2.4 billion worth of French products such as cheese, yogurt, sparkling wine and makeup.
“I’m not so in love with Facebook, Google, or Twitter—well, I do well on Twitter from the other side,” Trump said. “But I don’t want France taxing American companies.”
This comes as Trump is set to meet with NATO members during a two-day summit in London.
Trump would not confirm if he’ll meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Turkish media in late November quoted Erdogan’s adviser saying the country was considering dropping out of NATO.
Turkey withdrew some 40 troops from a NATO drill in Norway after the country’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and Erdogan himself were depicted as enemies.