In France, the President preferred honoring American veterans at a military cemetery to taking part in an international peace forum. Some viewers will find it telling that the BBC had to cut from the latter to the former. It appeared to emphasize Donald Trump's isolation from his ostensible allies in Europe. As it turned out, Trump's remarks were apolitical and sentimental, but that won't change the impression that he's on a different course from that of international cooperation. In Europe, Trump's identification of himself as a nationalist most likely didn't lead people to suspect him of racism, but it probably did reinforce fears that his will be a destabilizing influence on the continent and around the world. Trump was in France because today is the centennial of the end of World War I, an event seen by many as the inevitable consequence of at least one form of nationalism. Whether Trump's is the sort of nationalism that makes war more likely remains to be seen, but it remains suspect in many eyes that infer inherent hostility to foreigners from any "nation first" rhetoric. It's safe to say, however, that "nation first" isn't synonymous with "nation uber alles." My assumption is that Trump's idea of international relations is inherently competitive but not Darwinian; that is, it does not have the subjugation or extinction of any other nation, except possibly for Iran's Islamic republic, as its goal.
On CNN right now, President Macron of France -- a fluent English speaker, by the way -- is quoted defining nationalism, presumably without making distinctions, as " who cares what happens to others." That implies a zero-sum hierarchy of "caring," with which Trump probably wouldn't agree. It simply doesn't follow that to care for "your own" first means not to care for others at all. Trump himself demonstrates this by recognizing no contradiction of his America-first principles in his unconditional support for Israel. He does, apparently, see a limit to the costs caring for others should impose on his own. His envisioning of a limit worries both those of avowedly boundless compassion and those who believe that the richest nations have a duty to subsidize peace by spending to stabilize troubled parts of the world. This may be the most substantive critique of Trumpian nationalism; the fear isn't that Trump will wage aggressive war, but that his selfish indifference will make outbreaks of war more likely around the world. A truly indifferent American nationalist might ask "so what?" so long as it doesn't affect us, but ultimately we can't know whether Trump is that kind of nationalist until the event happens. For all that people may hope that Trump might learn some lesson contemplating the Great War, the truth may be that the lessons of that war will teach us nothing about Trump.