In Paris, Trump the ‘nationalist’ stood apart from others
By DARLENE SUPERVILLE and JILL COLVIN
Monday, November 12
PARIS (AP) — For President Donald Trump in Paris, America First meant largely America alone.
At a weekend commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, the president who proudly declares himself a “nationalist” stood apart, even on a continent where his brand of populism is on the rise.
He began his visit with a tweet slamming the French president’s call for a European defense force, arrived at events alone and spent much of his trip out of sight in the American ambassadors’ residence in central Paris. On Sunday, he listened as he was lectured on the dangers of nationalist isolation, and then he headed home just as the inaugural Paris Peace Summit was getting under way.
The visit made clear that, nearly two years after taking office, Trump has dramatically upended decades of American foreign policy posture, shaking allies. That includes French President Emmanuel Macron, who on Sunday warned that the “ancient demons” that caused World War I and millions of deaths were once again making headway.
Macron, who has been urging a re-embrace of multinational organizations and cooperation that have been shunned by Trump, delivered a barely-veiled rebuke of Trumpism at the weekend’s centerpiece event: A gathering of dozens of leaders at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the base of the Arc de Triomphe to mark the passage of a century since the guns fell silent in a global war that killed millions. Bells tolled across Europe’s Western Front and fighter jets passed overhead to mark the exact moment the devastating war came to a close.
With Trump and other leaders looking on, Macron took on the rising tide of populism in the United States and Europe and urged leaders not to turn their backs by turning inward.
“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism: Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism,” Macron said, adding that, when nations put their interests first and decide “who cares about the others” they “erase the most precious thing a nation can have… Its moral values.”
After Trump was gone, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who recently announced that she will not be seeking re-election, made an impassioned plea for global cooperation at the peace forum, saying World War I had “made clear what disastrous consequences a lack of compromise in politics and diplomacy can have.”
Trump, who has made clear that he has limited patience for broad, multilateral agreements, sat mostly stone-faced as he listened to Macron, who sees himself as Europe’s foil to the rising nationalist sentiment, which has taken hold in Hungary and Poland among other countries.
Trump did engage with his fellow leaders, attending a group welcome dinner hosted by Macron at the Musée d’Orsay on Saturday night and a lunch on Sunday. He also spent time with Macron on Saturday, when the two stressed their shared desire for more burden-sharing during a quick availability with reporters.
But Trump was terse during some of his private conversations with world leaders, according to people with direct knowledge of his visit. One of the people described the president as “grumpy.” They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss private conversations.
The symbolism during Trump’s visit couldn’t have been more stark.
Trump was missing from one of the weekend’s most powerful images: A line of world leaders, walking shoulder to-shoulder in a somber, rain-soaked procession as the bells marking the exact moment that fighting ended — 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918 — finished tolling.
The president and first lady Melania Trump had traveled to the commemoration separately — White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders cited security protocols — from the other dignitaries, who had traveled together by bus from the Élysée Palace.
As Trump’s motorcade was making its solo trip down the grand Champs-Élysées, which was closed to traffic, at least one topless woman breached tight security, running into the street and shouting “fake peace maker” as the cars passed. She had slogans, including the words “Fake” and “Peace,” written on her chest.
Police tackled the woman and the motorcade continued uninterrupted. The feminist activist group Femen later claimed responsibility.
Also traveling on his own was Russian President Vladimir Putin, who shook Trump’s hand, flashed him a thumbs-up sign and patted Trump’s arm as he arrived. Trump responded with a wide smile.
National Security Adviser John Bolton had said at one point that Putin and Trump would meet in Paris, but they will instead hold a formal sit-down later this month at a world leaders’ summit in Buenos Aires. A Kremlin official said later that U.S. and Russian officials decided to drop plans for the Paris meeting after French officials objected.
Trump, who ran on an “America First” platform, has jarred European allies with his actions. He has slapped tariffs on the European Union, pulled the U.S. out of the landmark Paris Climate Accord and the Iran nuclear deal and suggested he might be willing to pull the U.S. out of NATO if member counties don’t significantly boost their defense spending. Trump’s eagerness to get along with the Russian leader — in spite of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and numerous other aggressive moves in recent years — has alarmed those who view Russia as a growing threat.
Trump has also repeatedly branded himself a “nationalist,” despite criticism from some that the term has negative connotations. At a news conference last week, Trump defended his use of the phrase. “You know what the word is? I love our country,” he said, adding: “You have nationalists. You have globalists. I also love the world and I don’t mind helping the world, but we have to straighten out our country first. We have a lot of problems.”
But Trump did not broach the divide as he paid tribute Sunday to U.S. and allied soldiers killed in World War I during “a horrible, horrible war” that marked America’s emergence as a world power.
“We are gathered together at this hallowed resting place to pay tribute to the brave Americans who gave their last breath in that mighty struggle,” Trump said at the Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial in the suburbs of Paris, where more than 1,500 Americans who died in the war are buried.
“It is our duty to preserve the civilization they defended and to protect the peace they so nobly gave their lives to secure one century ago,” he said after spending a moment, standing alone amid the cemetery’s white crosses, holding a black umbrella.
The Veterans Day speech came a day after Trump was criticized for failing to visit a different American cemetery about 60 miles (100 kilometers) outside of Paris on Saturday because rain grounded the helicopter he had planned to take. A handful of senior administration officials, including White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, went in the president’s place, while Trump remained behind at the ambassador’s residence with no alternate schedule for hours.
Trump delivered the speech as other leaders were gathered for the inaugural Paris Peace Forum, which aims to revive collective governance and international cooperation to tackle global challenges. Afterward he headed back to Washington.
France was the epicenter of World War I, the first global conflict. Its role as host of the main international commemoration highlighted the point that the world mustn’t stumble into war again, as it did so quickly and catastrophically with World War II.
Associated Press writers Robert Burns and Julie Pace in Washington and Lori Hinnant and Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to this report.
For more information on World War I, go to The Associated Press’ WWI hub: https://www.apnews.com/WorldWarI
Follow Superville and Colvin on Twitter at https://twitter.com/dsupervilleap and https://twitter.com/colvinj
Marie Curie and her X-ray vehicles’ contribution to World War I battlefield medicine
October 10, 2017
Timothy J. Jorgensen
Director of the Health Physics and Radiation Protection Graduate Program and Associate Professor of Radiation Medicine, Georgetown University
Timothy J. Jorgensen does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Ask people to name the most famous historical woman of science and their answer will likely be: Madame Marie Curie. Push further and ask what she did, and they might say it was something related to radioactivity. (She actually discovered the radioisotopes radium and polonium.) Some might also know that she was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. (She actually won two.)
But few will know she was also a major hero of World War I. In fact, a visitor to her Paris laboratory 100 years ago would not have found either her or her radium on the premises. Her radium was in hiding and she was at war.
For Curie, the war started in early 1914, as German troops headed toward her hometown of Paris. She knew her scientific research needed to be put on hold. So she gathered her entire stock of radium, put it in a lead-lined container, transported it by train to Bordeaux – 375 miles away from Paris – and left it in a safety deposit box at a local bank. She then returned to Paris, confident that she would reclaim her radium after France had won the war.
With the subject of her life’s work hidden far away, she now needed something else to do. Rather than flee the turmoil, she decided to join in the fight. But just how could a middle-aged woman do that? She decided to redirect her scientific skills toward the war effort; not to make weapons, but to save lives.
X-rays enlisted in the war effort
X-rays, a type of electromagnetic radiation, had been discovered in 1895 by Curie’s fellow Nobel laureate, Wilhelm Roentgen. As I describe in my book “Strange Glow: The Story of Radiation,” almost immediately after their discovery, physicians began using X-rays to image patients’ bones and find foreign objects – like bullets.
But at the start of the war, X-ray machines were still found only in city hospitals, far from the battlefields where wounded troops were being treated. Curie’s solution was to invent the first “radiological car” – a vehicle containing an X-ray machine and photographic darkroom equipment – which could be driven right up to the battlefield where army surgeons could use X-rays to guide their surgeries.
One major obstacle was the need for electrical power to produce the X-rays. Curie solved that problem by incorporating a dynamo – a type of electrical generator – into the car’s design. The petroleum-powered car engine could thus provide the required electricity.
Frustrated by delays in getting funding from the French military, Curie approached the Union of Women of France. This philanthropic organization gave her the money needed to produce the first car, which ended up playing an important role in treating the wounded at the Battle of Marne in 1914 – a major Allied victory that kept the Germans from entering Paris.
More radiological cars were needed. So Curie exploited her scientific clout to ask wealthy Parisian women to donate vehicles. Soon she had 20, which she outfitted with X-ray equipment. But the cars were useless without trained X-ray operators, so Curie started to train women volunteers. She recruited 20 women for the first training course, which she taught along with her daughter Irene, a future Nobel Prize winner herself.
The curriculum included theoretical instruction about the physics of electricity and X-rays as well as practical lessons in anatomy and photographic processing. When that group had finished its training, it left for the front, and Curie then trained more women. In the end, a total of 150 women received X-ray training from Curie.
Not content just to send out her trainees to the battlefront, Curie herself had her own “little Curie” – as the radiological cars were nicknamed – that she took to the front. This required her to learn to drive, change flat tires and even master some rudimentary auto mechanics, like cleaning carburetors. And she also had to deal with car accidents. When her driver careened into a ditch and overturned the vehicle, they righted the car, fixed the damaged equipment as best they could and got back to work.
In addition to the mobile little Curies that traveled around the battlefront, Curie also oversaw the construction of 200 radiological rooms at various fixed field hospitals behind the battle lines.
Medics at a French WWI field hospital locating a bullet with X-ray machine. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
X-rays’ long shadow for Marie Curie
Although few, if any, of the women X-ray workers were injured as a consequence of combat, they were not without their casualties. Many suffered burns from overexposure to X-rays. Curie knew that such high exposures posed future health risks, such as cancer in later life. But there had been no time to perfect X-ray safety practices for the field, so many X-ray workers were overexposed. She worried much about this, and later wrote a book about X-ray safety drawn from her war experiences.
Curie survived the war but was concerned that her intense X-ray work would ultimately cause her demise. Years later, she did contract aplastic anemia, a blood disorder sometimes produced by high radiation exposure.
Many assumed that her illness was the result of her decades of radium work – it’s well-established that internalized radium is lethal. But Curie was dismissive of that idea. She had always protected herself from ingesting any radium. Rather, she attributed her illness to the high X-ray exposures she had received during the war. (We will likely never know whether the wartime X-rays contributed to her death in 1934, but a sampling of her remains in 1995 showed her body was indeed free of radium.)
As science’s first woman celebrity, Marie Curie can hardly be called an unsung hero. But the common depiction of her as a one-dimensional person, slaving away in her laboratory with the single-minded purpose of advancing science for science’s sake, is far from the truth.
Marie Curie was a multidimensional person, who worked doggedly as both a scientist and a humanitarian. She was a strong patriot of her adopted homeland, having immigrated to France from Poland. And she leveraged her scientific fame for the benefit of her country’s war effort – using the winnings from her second Nobel Prize to buy war bonds and even trying to melt down her Nobel medals to convert them to cash to buy more.
She didn’t allow her gender to hamper her in a male-dominated world. Instead, she mobilized a small army of women in an effort to reduce human suffering and win World War I. Through her efforts, it is estimated that the total number of wounded soldiers receiving X-ray exams during the war exceeded one million.
Why women’s peace activism in World War I matters now
Updated November 8, 2018
Regents Professor of History, The University of Montana
Anya Jabour receives funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The University of Montana provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
A hundred years ago, soon after winning reelection on the campaign slogan “He kept us out of war,” President Woodrow Wilson called on the U.S. Congress to authorize “a war to end all wars.”
The U.S. entry into World War I abruptly ended a different campaign to end war. Between the onset of hostilities in Europe in July 1914 and the U.S. declaration of war in April 1917, a determined group of women activists lobbied the president and Congress to maintain American neutrality and mediate a “negotiated peace.”
Although these women’s efforts proved futile, their persistence and passion still resonate today. By insisting that all citizens – even women, who did not yet have the right to vote – could and should participate in the highest levels of politics, they helped create a civic culture of engaged citizenship that continues to inform American politics today.
The idea of arbitrating World War I may seem naive in hindsight. Yet for nearly three years, numerous pacifist groups and individuals in both the United States and Europe advanced proposals for neutral mediation.
Proponents of international mediation hoped diplomatic intervention could bring the war to a swift end and prevent additional loss of life. They also hoped to pave the way for a new type of diplomacy, based on international law and voluntary arbitration, that would ensure lasting peace.
Men and women on both sides of the Atlantic participated in the campaign for neutral arbitration. Most memorably, American automobile magnate Henry Ford collaborated with Hungarian feminist pacifist Rosika Schwimmer to charter a “Peace Ship” to take a private delegation to Europe to broker peace talks.
The “Peace Ship” attracted media attention. However, my research on Sophonisba Breckinridge, a founding member of the Woman’s Peace Party, suggests that Breckinridge and other members of this feminist pacifist organization – including future Nobel Laureates Jane Addams and Emily Greene Balch – had a more lasting impact.
The Woman’s Peace Party
While not the first or the only peace organization in the United States, the Woman’s Peace Party, founded in January 1915, was distinctive in its focus on “peace as a women’s issue.” Believing that women’s full participation in the political process was essential to ending global conflict, members of the Woman’s Peace Party worked for both women’s rights and world peace.
Women brought a unique perspective to international relations. Pointing out that women suffered disproportionately in wartime, foreign relations feminists sought greater influence in foreign affairs even though they were denied the right to vote at home.
Ultimately, feminist pacifists hoped to create “a world without war.” As a step in this direction, the Woman’s Peace Party endorsed the mediation movement.
The International Congress of Women
In April 1915, the Woman’s Peace Party sent a delegation to the International Congress of Women at The Hague.
Over 1,000 delegates from 12 countries – including the belligerent nations of Germany, Italy and Great Britain – protested “the madness and the horror of war.” They pointed out the dangers war posed to women, including sexual assault.
They also proposed creating new international entities responsible for mediating international disputes. Their goal was to “establish a just and lasting peace.”
Feminist pacifists envisioned a peaceful world that included national self-determination, universal disarmament and free trade. It also required equal political rights for women.
Following the Congress, two delegations made a total of 35 visits to political and religious leaders of both neutral and belligerent nations to promote peaceful solutions to the ongoing war.
In her account of her visits to “the war capitals,” Jane Addams, who had served as chair of the Congress, recalled: “Our mission was simple. Foolish it may be, but it was not impossible.”
While the women did not achieve any concrete results, they were cordially received everywhere they went. Addams reflected: “Perhaps the ministers talked freely to us because we were so absolutely unofficial.” They returned to their home countries more determined than ever to promote neutral mediation of the ongoing conflict.
Woodrow Wilson and the Woman’s Peace Party
Back in the United States, representatives of the Woman’s Peace Party maintained steady pressure on President Woodrow Wilson to initiate peace talks.
The president had made some overtures at mediation at the war’s outset but had been rebuffed. However, Wilson’s willingness to meet with peace advocates and his praise for women’s proposals at The Hague encouraged them to continue their efforts.
Most importantly, the women refused to give up because so much was at stake. Emily Greene Balch insisted that if there were even the slimmest chance that a mediated peace might prevent further bloodshed, giving up would be “cause for deep self-reproach.”
Feminist pacifist foreign policy
In January 1916, members of the Woman’s Peace Party appeared before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs to testify in favor of a joint resolution to establish a “commission for enduring peace.”
The group included Breckinridge, who held advanced degrees in political science and law. Speaking on behalf of “all the women in the country,” Breckinridge urged the committee to apply “reasoning and justice” to international affairs.
Breckinridge’s testimony displayed her familiarity with political theory, supporting her contention that American women were informed and intelligent citizens who deserved a voice in the government. She also indicated that feminist pacifists were determined to have a say about foreign policy. In particular, she highlighted their interest in a “world organization” to prevent future wars.
The U.S. enters World War I
Despite their best efforts, American pacifists were unable either to halt the ongoing war or to prevent the United States’ entry into it.
Proponents of mediation seemed on the brink of success in early 1917, when Wilson delivered his “peace without victory” speech in the U.S. Senate.
Ironically, just a few weeks later, in response to German submarine warfare, Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war.
The legacy of ‘citizen diplomacy’
Although their mediation campaign did not achieve its immediate aims, women’s “citizen diplomacy” during World War I left an indelible mark on international relations.
The proposals they made at the International Congress of Women have had a profound impact on the United Nations. In particular, women pushed the international organization to define “peace as a human right.”
The Woman’s Peace Party, now the U.S. chapter of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, continues to operate today, making the group “the longest living women’s peace organization in world history.”
From pacifism to pussyhats
Feminist pacifists also established a precedent for women’s leadership in political protest. Peace activists continued their work, whether by attempting to outlaw warfare itself or by protesting nuclear power plants.
Women also assumed leadership positions in the anti-lynching and civil rights movements. More recently, women have been at the forefront of the Standing Rock protests and the Black Lives Matter movement.
And, of course, women organized the Women’s March on Washington, perhaps the largest mass protest in American history.
The pink “pussyhat” on the cover of Time magazine in a February 2017 issue dedicated to “the resistance” highlights the continuity between women’s political activism in the past and present.