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US-France 'friendship tree' dies after Trump team neglected it

The death of a friendship tree is an apt metaphor for Trump’s strained relationship with France and many other traditional U.S. allies.

By Dan Desai Martin - June 10, 2019
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Trump and Macron
U.S. President Donald Trump with France's president Emmanuel Macron and First Ladies Melania Trump and Brigitte Macron plant a tree, a gift from the President and Mrs. Macron, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, April 23, 2018.

A “friendship tree” given to Trump by French President Emmanuel Macron died after the White House neglected to replant it, according to a Monday AFP report.

The oak tree was given to Trump in April 2018 as “a reminder at the White House of these ties that bind us,” according to Macron at the time. It was taken from a forest in northern France where more than 2,000 American troops died in World War I.

The two leaders had a photo-op in front of the White House shoveling dirt around the newly planted tree. After the visit from Macron, the White House un-planted the tree and placed it in quarantine, as is required for all plants imported into the U.S.

However, Trump’s team never replanted the tree, despite a promise to do so — and the tree died in quarantine.

The sad story is an apt metaphor for Trump’s strained relations with not only France but also many other traditional U.S. allies.

Trump has never shied away from publicly attacking allies like France. In 2018, Trump whined about military spending levels of NATO allies, and then lied to the press, claiming he convinced allies to increase their spending. Macron issued a statement calling out Trump’s falsehood.

As recently as April, Trump falsely claimed European allies like France were not helping in the global fight against ISIS.

When the famed Notre Dame cathedral caught on fire in April 2019, French officials chided Trump for offering “utterly useless” advice for how to deal with it. “Everything would have collapsed,” they noted, if French firefighters followed Trump’s unsolicited advice of using planes to drop water on the burning structure.

When Trump started separating families at the border in the summer of 2018, French officials reacted with disgust, calling out Trump for the abhorrent policy that resulted in thousands of children being ripped from their families and locked in cages.

“Clearly we don’t share certain values,” Benjamin Griveaux, a French government spokesperson said at the time, blasting the
“shocking” images of children in cages.

Trump has spent his time in office attacking traditional allies like France and kowtowing to adversaries like Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. Trump once even tried to bribe France into leaving the European Union, which would have destabilized the E.U. and served as a major gift to Putin.

Given Trump’s record of attacking and disrespecting France and other allies, the friendship tree never had a chance.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation. 


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