Charles de Gaulle & Donald Trump.

In October of 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, President John F. Kennedy sent former Secretary of State Dean Acheson to Paris to meet with President Charles de Gaulle. De Gaulle had often opposed U.S. foreign policy, and Kennedy wanted a united front against the nuclear missiles in Cuba. At their meeting at the Elysee Palace, Dean Acheson offered to show de Gaulle CIA surveillance photos of the Russian nuclear missile complexes in Cuba. Acheson said: “Here, let me show you the photos.” President de Gaulle waved off Acheson and said: “No. No. No. No. I don’t need to see the photos. The word of the president of the United States is good enough for me.”

Now, I wonder – what world leader today would say the same thing about Donald Trump? “No. No. No. No. I don’t need to see any evidence. The word of President Trump is good enough for me.” Hmmm. Well, who would say that?

Whatever Happened To World’s Fairs?

I miss world’s fairs. It has been decades since they had a world’s fair in the United States or Canada. There was supposed to be a world’s fair in Chicago in 1992, but it was canceled. They still have world’s fairs, but now they are at places that I don’t want to go to. In 2017, there will be a world’s fair in Astana, Kazakhstan, but I’m not going there. I don’t travel to places that that end with ‘stan’, like Pakistan, Afghanistan, or Uzbekistan. The last world’s fair I went to was Expo 67 in Montreal. It was a wonderful world’s fair. Montreal is a beautiful city. The west side of Montreal is English. That’s where you went to get cheap English imports. The east side of the city is French. Predictably, that’s where the best restaurants are located. Why don’t they have world’s fairs anymore in places like Montreal? French Canadians don’t hijack airplanes and crash them into skyscrapers or behead infidels. At least none of the French Canadians I’ve ever met did stuff like that. If there was another world’s fair in Montreal, I would go!

Charles de Gaulle’s Plan To Ship The Eiffel Tower To Montreal. This story is incredible, but true. Charles De Gaulle was frequently criticized in both America and France for grandiosity – and with good reason. France used to be the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world, and the French language was the international language of government, science, and business. Charles De Gaulle never really accepted the idea that those days were over and would never return. De Gaulle wanted France to be the most influential country in Europe again and a first-tier world military power in its own right. Most people, even in France, thought this was unrealistic.

De Gaulle hoped that someday the people of Quebec would break away from the rest of Canada and become an independent French-speaking country politically tied to France. When the World’s Fair came to Montreal in 1967, de Gaulle wanted the French exhibit to be spectacular. He proposed disassembling the Eiffel Tower and shipping it to Montreal for the fair, then shipping it back to Paris after the fair was over. At first, many people in France thought this proposal was a joke, but de Gaulle was serious. The French government did a cost estimate for the proposal. When de Gaulle saw how much it would cost, he dropped the idea. Charles de Gaulle was grandiose, but not insane. De Gaulle attended the Montreal World’s Fair, where he created a international incident when he made an off-the-cuff statement to a large crowd. He said: “Vive le Quebec. Vive le Quebec libre!” (with emphasis on the word ‘libre.’) He was supposed to just say “Vive le Quebec”, but he got carried away and added the rest. The Canadian government was furious. The prime minister of Canada said: “Canada does not need to be liberated.” He told President de Gaulle that he was no longer welcome in Canada. De Gaulle was forced to cut his trip short and go back to France. He never returned to Canada. I came to Expo 67 after the ‘Vive le Quebec libre” incident, but it was still the hot topic of conversation.