PARIS – President Trump flew 3,800 miles to this French capital to honor ceremonies to honor the military casualty of World War I, hoping to gain the kind of powerful ode to the courage of the forces he could not hold in Washington.
But on his first full day here it rained on his spare parade weekend.
Early Saturday, the White House announced Trump, and the First Lady had made plans for her first stop at the weekend's reminder activities due to the bad weather – a visit to the solemn American cemetery, Aisne Marne, marking the fierce Battle of Belleau Wood.
It was not clear why the Trumps could not attend. The cemetery is 80 km from Paris. Perhaps the President was planning to travel with Marine One, which was occasionally set up by the secret service.
But the sight of dignitaries arriving in other places outside Paris, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, led some foreign policy analysts to speculate that the US commander-in-chief was simply not ready been.
"It is unbelievable that a President would travel to France for this important anniversary – and then watch TV in his hotel room instead of personally paying tribute to the Americans who gave their lives in France for the victory they won 100 years ago . " David Frum, who served as a speechwriter to former President George W. Bush, wrote in Tweets, Trump actually stays in the residence of the US Ambassador in Paris.
So began a weekend when Trump, who fought on various political fronts in Washington, seemed distracted and detached. Trump left Washington when the list of White House troubles was piling up: recently Democrats authorized criticism of his election as deputy attorney general and repercussions on his personal attacks on journalists.
Trump was in France in the body, but did not seem to be enthusiastic in spirit.
The White House said Chief of Staff John F. Kelly and General Joseph F. Dunford Jr., Chiefs of Staff, would attend the Belleau ceremony in the absence of the Trumps, but Frum said Trump could have tried Motorcade to meet his schedule.
Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser to President Obama, said he worked on Obama's overseas travel planning during his two terms of office and said it was common practice to have a backup plan to deal with bad weather.
"There is always a rain option. Always, "he wrote in a tweet. "Trump will use the US military for a pre-election political election campaign, but will sit in his hotel instead of honoring those who fought and died for America."
The cemetery houses 2288 tombs in honor of the deceased, including many Americans. The names of 1,060 other Americans who were missing and whose bodies were not recovered are engraved on the walls of the site.
Trump held a bilateral meeting with Macron, but the US President was subdued, almost discontented, as Macron tried to mask the growing tensions between them.
When Macron tried to knock Trump's thigh, the President ignored him and did not accept the touch and did not return it – a clear contrast to their demonstrative power-hand slaps and slaps at previous meetings.
Trump is still planning to attend the ceremony under the Arc de Triomphe on Sunday, where more than 100 world leaders will pay homage to the centenary of the ceasefire that ended World War I.
But he will not get a parade. The event will not include tanks or missiles, like Trump's parade on the streets of Washington on Veterans Day, but canceled for exorbitant costs.
After another scheduled visit to a Sunday ceremony, the president plans to fly home as the Macroner Paris Peace Forum begins three days of meetings to encourage global action against common challenges such as climate change.
Thomas Wright, a Brookings Institution Europe expert, said Trump announced he would go to France on a whim in August after abruptly canceling his Pentagon order for a parade.
The peace forum was "a bit of a counterpoint to America First," Wright said, citing Trump's nationalist foreign policy as a source of confusion for trade and defense allies. "Now they have the strange situation that Trump is here [in Paris] but the forum goes against everything he and [National Security Adviser John] Bolton stands for. , , , My impression is that he will pretend it does not happen. "
In the evening Trump tweeted that he had spent the afternoon with meetings and phoned, although he gave no details. He followed with a tweet warning that he closely monitored the election results in the Gubernatorial and US Senate races in Florida. "Trying to STEALEN two major elections in Florida!" He wrote, evidently referring to Democrats.
Trump's critics, including former national security officials under President Obama, may have piled up – for the time when Trump ridiculed Obama by calling him feckless and weak on the world stage.
In the two years since his election Trump has not visited troops in an active war zone. The attempt to make a surprise visit to the Korean demilitarization zone in November 2017 was canceled when Marine One was forced to turn back due to the bad weather.
"Really little energy, @realDonaldTrump, to not bother to honor the sacrifice of American soldiers in World War I due to rain. Somehow this was possible for everyone else today. Obama never had this problem. He also visited our troops in war zones, "wrote Kelly Magsamen, a senior Pentagon official on Asian affairs, on Twitter.
On Instagram, Trump made a statement to the US troops and posted a photo of himself talking to his members at Air Station Miramar in San Diego.
"Happy 24th Birthday of the GREAT US Marine Corps!" Wrote Trump.
In Paris, however, there were some signs of tension between Trump and his host, while Macron's call for a "real European army" was strained. The US president considered it "very insulting" shortly after he landed here on Air Force One late Friday.
Fearing the US's slowdown, Macron pointed this week in a radio interview on a new path to Europe, in which he denounced the "project of a sovereign Europe" and argued that the continent would not be protected, "if we do not decide . " a real European army. "
"We must have a Europe that can defend itself – and without relying on the United States – sovereign," he said.
This led Trump to an angry response in a tweet he sent when Air Force One landed in Paris late Friday. Trump renewed his frustration over countries in the NATO alliance that do not spend at least two percent of their gross domestic product on their armed forces.
Prior to their bilateral meeting at the Elysée Palace, Macron tried to reassure Trump by publicly stating that European nations should pay more for their defense in the NATO Alliance.
He called Trump "my good friend" and proclaimed "great solidarity" between the two nations. He said that Heads of State and Government would discuss a litany of issues during their one-on-one interview, including Iran, Syria, Yemen, trade and climate change.
Trump returned Macron's warm tone and told the French leader that we had become "very good friends" and that the two countries "have much in common in many ways".
"I appreciate what you say about burden sharing. You know my view, "said Trump. He later added, "We want to help Europe, but it has to be fair."
While her words aimed to gloss over her differences, her body language betrayed growing tensions.
Foreign policy analysts said Macron and other European leaders feel burned by Trump, who has withdrawn the US from the Iranian nuclear deal and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, both negotiated by the Obama administration.
"I think he has given up any illusions about Trump, that flattery will be a way for him to make concessions," said Brookings expert Wright. "But he's reluctant to back off because he's not sure what will make him do it. It is careful realism. "
The weather forecast in Paris shows more rain for Sunday.