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Wilson Went to Paris to Bind America’s Ties to the World. Trump Is There to Loosen Them.

Category: Political News,Politics

Just last week, Mr. Macron called for the creation of a “true European army” because the continent can no longer depend on the United States. “We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America,” he said. “When I see President Trump announcing that he’s quitting a major disarmament treaty, which was formed after the 1980s Euro-missile crisis that hit Europe, who is the main victim? Europe and its security.”

Mr. Trump did not respond right away but instead waited until landing on French soil to fire back at his host. Three minutes after Air Force One touched down at Orly Airport outside Paris, Mr. Trump posted a message on Twitter objecting to Mr. Macron’s comment. “Very insulting,” he wrote, “but perhaps Europe should pay its fair share of NATO, which the U.S. subsidizes greatly!”

The back-and-forth set the stage for a tense weekend when Mr. Trump meets with Mr. Macron on Saturday, attends an official dinner and lunch for visiting leaders and joins the ceremony on Sunday commemorating the anniversary of the armistice that ended the Great War at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

His arrival could not contrast more starkly with Wilson’s a century ago. When Wilson came to Paris, he was greeted as a savior by throngs of cheering admirers that would be the envy of the crowd-size-obsessed Mr. Trump.

“When Woodrow Wilson went to Paris, he was the most beloved, revered man on the planet,” said A. Scott Berg, the author of “Wilson,” a biography of the president. “The entire world was rooting for him. The reception he got was overwhelming.”

It did not last, though. High-minded and highhanded, Wilson used his unrivaled influence as leader of the emerging American power to force the creation of the League of Nations, while deferring to France in drafting the punitive Versailles Treaty in what his own secretary of state called a “victor’s peace” that would breed resentment in Germany leading to another world war.

Wilson, who did not always practice the ideals at home that he preached abroad, also let his stubbornness doom his cherished league, which Republicans prevented the United States from ever joining. The forces of isolationism remained strong until the start of World War II but eventually Wilsonian internationalism took hold in the form of the United Nations and institutions like the World Trade Organization and International Monetary Fund that transformed the world.


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