But more than perhaps any conflict in human history, it was worth it. The sacrifices made that day helped to erase an order dominated by fascist dictators. And from the rubble and the ashes of Europe, the United States worked with its allies to establish a postwar international system that built unprecedented global prosperity. The United States stood with its friends, worked to maximize mutually beneficial trade with them and helped defeat communism.
Today, America’s closest alliances — and the international order that the United States carefully designed — are under attack. This time, though, the assault isn’t coming from soldiers fighting for a foreign tyrant. Instead it’s coming from the White House.
President Trump is doing everything in his power to erode the legacy of D-Day. He is casting our staunch allies as national security threats, working to undercut trade relationships with our friends, and conferring presidential legitimacy on fascist ideologies in the United States and on authoritarian despots abroad.
Trump continues to make the mistake of treating our friends like enemies and our enemies like friends. He calls it “America First.” In reality, it’s America Alone — weakened, isolated, our allies abandoned and our enemies emboldened. The American-led world order is splintering — and Trump is the one hammering it.
Hundreds of Canadians died storming Juno Beach. Hundreds more died alongside Americans in the Korean War and Afghanistan. They stood with us when it counted.
Now the Trump administration has imposed biting steel tariffs on Canada, while absurdly labeling our neighbor to the north a threat to national security. Trump and his allies argue that such a policy is necessary — to punish trade abusers such as China. But China accounts for just 2 percent of U.S. steel imports, a smaller proportion than Taiwan or Turkey. Canada, by contrast, accounts for 17 percent. This is a pinprick to our enemies while stabbing our friends in the back.
Trump has also argued that Canada deserves harsh treatment because, he claims, the United States has a trade deficit with its northern neighbor. But Trump’s own U.S. trade representative has noted that we registered an $8.4 billion trade surplus with Canada in 2017.
Britain is another close friend. Thousands of British citizens died fighting fascism on Gold and Sword Beach. More than a thousand died in Korea, Afghanistan and Iraq. They stood with us when it counted.
Britain will soon be subject to American steel tariffs imposed by Trump. When London faced a terror attack a year ago this week, Trump attacked the mayor of London on Twitter. And again, his administration has officially labeled Britain (and other E.U. countries) a “national security” threat.
Furthermore, while Americans and Britons fought against Hitler’s repugnant fascism together in the past, Trump promoted “Britain First” on Twitter — a repugnant neo-fascist hate group. Trump has retweeted Jayda Fransen three times. Fransen, who was recently jailed for hate crimes, previously appeared on Radio Aryan right after the hosts had finished a reading of Hitler’s manifesto “Mein Kampf.”
While FDR and Churchill called upon the allies to fight for freedom, Trump congratulates dictators and despots who stand against freedom in Russia and Turkey. He fawns over autocrats who abuse human rights in the Philippines and China. And he grants uncritical smiling photo-ops to North Korea’s tyrants, the closest reincarnation of totalitarian fascism on Earth.
For me, D-Day holds personal significance. My grandfather, a telephone company man who was in the U.S. Army during World War II, was shipped off to London to help prepare for the D-Day invasions. When I was 19, I made a pilgrimage to those hallowed beaches. I strolled through row after row of graves, marveling at how many of them marked the final resting place of soldiers who were my age or younger. They were teenage boys who, unlike me, would never go home.
Back then, I felt deeply moved, but at least felt certain that their sacrifice was worth it. Their deaths helped catalyze the most peaceful era in human history, one in which we traded with our allies, got richer together and, eventually, fostered an unprecedented expansion of democracy.
Trump is working to undermine that legacy. On the anniversary of D-Day, we should remember who our friends are — and treat them accordingly. It’s not just the decent thing to do; it’s also smart. We don’t know when the next D-Day moment will arrive, but I, for one, want to make sure that the United States isn’t left storming those beaches on the horizon all alone.