Thumbs up from Putin as Trump rains on Armistice parade For Donald Trump, that was a bridge too far. The trip to France got off to a bad start and kept getting worse. He landed with a tweet, directed against his host, Emmanuel Macron, and based on a mangling in the US press of something the French president had said, to make it sound like he wanted a European army to fend off the US, as well as China and Russia. It was not what Macron said, but Trump fulminated anyway. “Very insulting,” he declared. In a way, the US president had come to France by mistake. He had announced the trip in August after he declared that Washington’s municipal leaders wanted to over-charge for the military parade he had demanded. He would go to the big parade in Paris, where he had been inspired by the display of military pageantry on 14 July festivities last year. But the French do parades for Bastille Day, not Armistice Day. This time there were no tanks and no marching bands. After a few hours in a Paris hotel, the White House called off Trump’s attendance at the first memorial event of the weekend, at Belleau, where 2,000 US marines were killed. The ostensible reason for the sudden cancellation: rain. As an alibi, this was almost instantly undermined by footage of Macron, Angela Merkel, Justin Trudeau, and Trump’s own staff attending ceremonies around the country, evidently under the lightest of drizzles. Trump stayed in his hotel room, watching cable news and tweeting. Back in Washington, the White House officially dubs this ‘executive time’. It has become the norm in the president’s daily routine. In France, on Veteran’s Day weekend, it came across as a snub to America’s war dead by a president who had avoided military service in Vietnam, claiming to suffer from “bone spurs”. In the ensuing storm of tweeted derision, there were countless video clips of other leaders standing in the rain at important ceremonial events, including Trudeau in Dieppe the year before remembering the Canadian dead from the second world war, and deliberately folding his umbrella away and comparing his mild discomfort to those of soldiers for whom “the rain wasn’t rain, it was bullets”. The whole weekend was supposed to be a show of western solidarity, and ended up proving its absence. Trump showed himself ill at ease with most of his European counterparts and the fleeting encounter with Putin was a reminder of his much greater affinity for autocrats. He has claimed warm, even affectionate, relations with Putin, Kim Jong-un, Xi Jinping, Mohammed bin Salman, Rodrigo Duterte and now Brazil’s president-elect, Jair Bolsonaro. Trump may have cut a lonely figure in Paris, but on the world stage, he is less and less isolated. It seems that the only Leaders he can get along with are the sewer rats.