Macron Misses the Mark on Nationalism

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Macron Misses the Mark on Nationalism
Jacques Demarthon/Pool Photo via AP
Macron Misses the Mark on Nationalism
Jacques Demarthon/Pool Photo via AP
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French President Emanuel Macron chose an odd occasion to implicitly lecture an American president over the weekend. After all, he was commemorating the 100th anniversary of the conclusion of the Great War, when the United States tipped the balance in that struggle in favor of the Allies and freed France.  A generation later, young Americans would again return in droves to French soil, this time to smash the evil occupying force of Nazi ethno-fascism. As I explained recently, that despicable scourge sought racial purity and government dominance over all aspects of societies.  Thankfully, American nationalism animated our mighty republic to save the world from such subjugation.

In contrast to ethno-fascism, American nationalism discounts bloodlines and instead exalts our shared history and overwhelming agreement on core beliefs.  These principles include pluralism, free-enterprise economics, religious liberty, respect for our Constitution, and reverence for our great flag. American nationalism indeed demands “America First,” but never America alone, as evidenced by the sacred cemeteries of our war dead across the French countryside.

Instead of displaying gratitude for being liberated by the first superpower in world history uninterested in conquest, Macron delivered a smug lecture.  Here is the harsh reality: France, like all of Western Europe, has thrived for decades because of the protective blanket of the American military, funded by the generous American taxpayer.  In lieu of appreciation, Macron dismissed our historic commitment by calling for a European-only military to counterbalance both the U.S. and Russia.  Then, in a barely veiled verbal assault on Donald Trump, he assailed nationalism as a “betrayal of patriotism.”   

Instead, we view nationalism as the practical application of patriotism.  The recent worldwide movement toward sovereignty reflects citizens revolting against the transnational structures that serve first the interests of elites like Macron.  These arrangements, from the Paris climate accord to the World Trade Organization, have proven especially punitive to American workers -- who used their vote in 2016 to demand that our national interests always supersede multilateralism. 

Similar sentiments ascend from Britain to Brazil.  Perhaps paradoxically, the world will actually achieve greater prosperity and harmony when each sovereign nation stands empowered to first seek its natural prerogatives rather than subservience to the allegedly wise designs of globalist bureaucrats.  For example, regarding the Great War that we just commemorated, the actual lesson of history clearly warns that rational nationalism did not spur the violence.  Instead, cross-border multilateral security guarantees became the tripwires that detonated global strife.

Nonetheless, a century later internationalist technocrats like Macron decry enlightened nationalism.  For Macron, perhaps attacks on America and Trump serve to divert attention from his own disastrously low 21 percent approval ratings at home.  Instead, he should embrace the Eastern European example of informed nationalism, evident especially in Poland, which on Sunday celebrated its own profound centennial anniversary of regained independence -- largely thanks to America’s insistence during Versailles negotiations.  Poland, unlike France and Germany, has resisted multilateral demands that it submit to unfettered migration, and has solidified its relationship with the United States.  The ambassadors of Poland and America jointly wrote that that bilateral bond is “stronger than ever.”   

In our country, many elites in corporate C-suites and coastal newsrooms bristle at the notion of American nationalism because they identify far more with Paris, France than with Paris, Illinois. But no matter how loudly the Davos crowd complains, President Trump was elected with a clear mandate to govern America for Americans. 

Steve Cortes is a contributor to RealClearPolitics and a CNN  political commentator. His Twitter handle is @CortesSteve.



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