Trump Travels To Paris, Will Attend Bastille Day Parade

Jul 13, 2017
Originally published on July 13, 2017 5:10 am
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Think of some of the Americans who visited Paris over the years - Benjamin Franklin, Ernest Hemingway, James Baldwin, Josephine Baker, Julia Child. General John J. Pershing arrived in 1917 in advance of his troops in World War I. One hundred years after that moment, President Donald Trump arrives in part to mark the centennial. Up to now, he has spoken differently of Paris than the other visitors, claiming the city was made dangerous by migration and dismissing the climate accord signed there.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.

INSKEEP: So what's the president do now that he is the guest of President Emmanuel Macron, who was elected to represent Paris? We turn to another American in Paris, NPR's Eleanor Beardsley. Hi, Eleanor.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: Hi, Steve.

INSKEEP: What's President Macron plan to show President Trump?

BEARDSLEY: Well, you know, President Macron has been criticized for inviting Trump, but he says, you know, he wants to show on this great centennial of America entering World War I the great alliance between the countries for centuries. And so what he's going to do is he is going to roll out all the stops for Trump. He is going to wow him. This is a perfectly choreographed visit. Some commentators were saying he might have shown former President Obama the Louvre, but he's going to show Trump a military parade.

And, you know, we don't do military parades in America like they do them here in France. Trump is going to see tanks rolling down the Champs-Elysees. He's bound to be impressed. That's going to showcase French military power. Trump is going to see historical ground. Or he's going to visit Napoleon's tomb - seven different coffins, one encased in the other, under a gold cupola at Les Invalides.

Even at dinner tonight, French culinary grandeur is going to be showcased at a Michelin star restaurant in the Eiffel Tower, architectural grandeur. And so, you know, Macron wants to show that America is going to stay engaged with France. We cannot turn our back on America in these times because they've been such a good ally. He wants to keep America in the circle of nations.

INSKEEP: You are reminding me, Eleanor, both that President Trump was said to have wanted tanks in his own inaugural parade - that was scotched - but also that Saudi Arabia seemed to get a lot of mileage out of royal pomp and a sword dance and so forth. So Macron is trying the same thing. But are they agreeing on very much? Well, how do they relate to each other?

BEARDSLEY: Well, actually, they have a good relationship. They're said to have a good relationship, especially compared to, like, German Chancellor Angela Merkel. And Macron actually wants to play a sort of facilitator intermediary role. He wants to be the person who can talk to Trump, to Trump's America, to keep Trump and America engaged with Europe. And all along the day today, Steve, is going to be little nods to the centuries of links between America and France and Europe, starting with World War One but also look at Gustave Eiffel, who built the Eiffel Tower. He also made the skeleton to the Statue of Liberty.

INSKEEP: Well, is there a way that they relate on the world stage to each other?

BEARDSLEY: Well, they're - yes, they do. They relate about military, about, you know, intelligence sharing. Macron reminded the world that, you know, this was an indispensable ally, America. We had to stay with them. There has been a lot of criticism about the climate talk though, the U.S. pulling out. But commentators here are saying even that has given a boost to Macron. This is - listen to what one commentator told me, Christophe Barbier, about that.

CHRISTOPHE BARBIER: Donald Trump is looking to the past. He has not understood what a new economy, a green economy is there. It is easy for Macron to be suddenly the great hero of the ecologists, the great hero of the new economy.

INSKEEP: Meaning that he's risen in opposition to President Trump in a way, but can they work together?

BEARDSLEY: They can work together, Steve, on main issues - military, intelligence sharing, fighting terrorism, Syria. Macron's a pragmatist. Both the leaders have said they want a long-term political solution. That means talking with Syria's leader, Bashar al-Assad, to make sure we do the top priority, which is fighting ISIS and international terrorism.

INSKEEP: NPR's Eleanor Beardsley in Paris. Eleanor, thanks.

BEARDSLEY: Thank you, Steve. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.