Your browser does not support JavaScript Multilateralism, President Trump, and the Paris Peace Forum - Judy Ford Wason Center for Public Policy - Christopher Newport University Multilateralism, President Trump, and the Paris Peace Forum
Skip navigation

Judy Ford Wason Center for Public Policy

Wason Center

November 16, 2018

Multilateralism, President Trump, and the Paris Peace Forum

International / Issue

Paris Peace Forum 2018

To commemorate the centenary of the armistice that ended World War I, French President Emmanuel Macron delivered an address at the Arc de Triomphe on November 11th discussing the rising wave of populism within France’s allied nations. At the armistice commemoration, Macron addressed the rising wave of populism in allied nations. President Donald J. Trump, along with numerous global counterparts gathered in central Paris to celebrate this occasion and hear Macron’s speech.

Within his address, Macron repeated prior warnings against nationalism-fueled conflict, saying, “Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. By saying our interests first, who cares about the others, we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what makes it great and what is essential: its moral values. I know there are old demons which are coming back to the surface. They are ready to wreak chaos and death. History sometimes threatens to take its sinister course once again.” Following these remarks, the French leader praised multilateral institutions that arose out of World War II, such as the UN and EU, as preservers of peace. He emphasized their role in maintaining international order and called for “collective action” to tackle crises ranging from the environment to nuclear proliferation.

Macron’s speech was seen as a direct address towards the “America First” rhetoric of President Trump. It also served as an advisory to Vladimir Putin, who was also in the crowd, along with the resurgent nationalism in Poland, Hungary, and Italy, the Brexit supporters in the United Kingdom, as well as the “France First” rhetoric of Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Melenchon.

Trump, who has continually expressed his aversion to multilateral organizations, has branded himself as a self-described “nationalist.” He has previously described the UN “a club for people to have a good time” and the EU as America’s “foe” because of “what they do to us in trade.” Trump has also expressed his preference for arranging unilateral trade agreements with individual European countries, reinforcing the fact that he has little desire to entertain broad, multilateral agreements. During his tenure as President, Trump has questioned NATO’s benefits to the US and asked for increased military spending from other European members. These actions have prompted other world leaders to question whether the US is still a reliable defense ally for them. Subsequently, Macron’s comments reinforce the concept that Trump has dramatically upended years of American foreign policy norms, shaking allies.

The armistice commemoration occurred only a few hours before the commencement of the Paris Peace Climate. Although President Donald Trump attended the armistice commemorations at the Arc de Triomphe, he quickly boarded a flight back to Washington before the forum began.

This past Sunday, 60 world leaders and 20,000 representatives from politics, economics, academia, media, and civil society joined French President Emmanuel Macron in inaugurating the first edition of the Paris Peace Forum. In response to today’s rising tensions, this forum is purposed to converge actors of global governance to strengthen multilateralism international cooperation. It showcased 119 projects from around the world, all divided into five categories – peace and security, environment, development, new technologies, and inclusive economy. Ultimately, 10 projects will be elected by the participants and the Selection Committee of the Forum to benefit from special support by the Forum until the second edition in November 2019. “The aim of the forum is to show that there are lots of forces in the international system — states, NGOs, foundations, intellectuals, companies — who believe we need a world of rules, an open world, and a multilateral world,” said Justin Vaisse, chief organizer of the Paris Peace Forum.

Notably, German Chancellor Angela Merkel also spoke about the need for increased global cooperation this past weekend. While opening the Forum, Merkel noted that World War I had “made it clear what disastrous consequences a lack of compromise in politics and diplomacy can have.”

Macron and Merkel were united in their ideals to promote multilateralism through the Forum’s agenda. At the Forum, Macron asked onlookers, “Will today be a symbol of lasting peace or a last moment of unity before the world falls into more disorder? It depends solely on us.”

Report a problem
Version 3.4