Return to Transcripts main page
World Leaders in Paris for Armistice Centennial Ceremony; Fire Wipes Out California Town. Aired 4-5a ET
Aired November 11, 2018 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Live from the CNN Center, I'm Cyril Vanier.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): I'm Natalie Allen. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world.
VANIER: This is the 11th day of the 11th month and, on this day, 100 years ago, the guns of war fell silent.
ALLEN: And right now in Paris, world leaders are coming together to mark the momentous and solemn occasion. As the clock approaches the 11th hour, the time hostilities officially ended.
VANIER: For more than 8 million troops were killed in World War I and some 21 million wounded. It was supposed to be the war to end all wars.
ALLEN: CNN is covering the events around Armistice Day live. You just saw Mr. Macron greeting world leaders there. Our international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, is in Paris following events, along with White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins.
VANIER: Nic, to you first. We're keeping an eye on live pictures coming to us from the French presidency, the Elysee Palace.
Tell us what's been going on?
World leaders currently being greeted by the French president.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, they gathered here yesterday as well for a dinner hosted, of course, by the French president; 72 heads of state expected through this period, 98 heads of delegation.
And, of course, everyone converging on the Arc de Triomphe, the eternal grave, if you will, of the Unknown Soldier. The eternal flame lit there, reignited on a daily basis. They'll be gathering there for what will be a very somber service.
We'll hear readings from schoolchildren and also some very poignant recollections from troops who were serving at the front line in the moments and days before the armistice was signed.
One we'll hear from, from a British officer, really gives an indication of just how fraught and tough the war was and how suddenly the end came. On the 7th of November, he writes about artillery shells and bullets flying everywhere, no real sense that this will actually end.
And then at 9:30 in the morning, this would be 100 years ago today, not far from this moment, he said, just received word that the war is over, essentially been given 10 minutes to form up a small team to go to a celebration event.
So that was the speed with which it happened. But so many lives lost. More than a million French troops. More than 8 million troops through all the fighting fronts and 7 million civilians lost their lives.
At no time has there been a greater number of men and women under arms, 60 million under arms in Europe in different forces during the war, 70 million across the world. The numbers were staggering.
The commemoration today is to honor those who have fallen but to remember what came afterwards, it was the war to end all wars. World War II did come after but then those global institutions that the United States, its diplomacy, money after World War II was so instrumental in and Emmanuel Macron will be hosting three days of Paris Peace Forum to talk to leaders about those issues.
Trump heading back to Washington, missing all of that but he'll head back late this afternoon.
VANIER: Those global institutions you mentioned are very well represented at this ceremony. The IMF, the WTO, the U.N., the E.U. Nic Robertson, thank you so much. You'll be with us over the next couple of hours to follow this live. Thanks, Nic.
ALLEN: U.S. president Trump is among the world leaders in Paris this weekend.
VANIER: He's already met with French president Emmanuel Macron at the presidential palace on Saturday and Mr. Trump has a busy Sunday ahead of him. After the Armistice Day ceremony, he'll have lunch with world leaders at the Elysee Palace.
Their spouses will have their own gathering at Versailles during that time.
ALLEN: On Sunday afternoon Mr. Trump will attend a ceremony honoring Americans who died in World War I. And he and first lady Melania Trump will head back to Washington. Let's bring in CNN's Kaitlan Collins covering Trump's visit to Paris.
Kaitlan, Mr. Trump will be among dozens, about 80 world leaders; however, he did receive criticism earlier for skipping a trip to a U.S. military cemetery.
What was the reason? KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The White House blamed it on the weather. The president was to take a helicopter to visit that cemetery which is about 50 miles outside of Paris. A little over --
COLLINS: -- an hour drive. They said the president could not fly in the weather yesterday. It was really cloudy and rainy as you can see as it is right now behind me. But the White House didn't provide any answers as to why they didn't have a backup plan for that trip.
The president flew 3,800 miles over here and that was one of the main aspects of this trip, was to go and pay his respects to those American soldiers buried there. Instead, the president spent roughly six or seven hours back at the ambassador's residence where he and Ms. Trump are staying.
He said he made calls to several world leaders but he didn't detail who he spoke to and the White House didn't provide any further readout of how he spent that large block of time yesterday.
But he'll have another chance to pay his respects today after the commemoration ceremony. He's scheduled to go to another cemetery, a little closer to where he's staying here in Paris today, where over 1,000 American soldiers are buried. So he'll have another chance to go and do that.
But the White House didn't provide a lot of explanation for why there was no backup plan for yesterday, leaving the president open to a healthy amount of criticism from some people here in Europe.
ALLEN: We have not seen him arrive yet here at the palace but we'll be waiting to see for that. A meeting with world leaders that Mr. Trump had was described as testy.
Do we know what the contentious issues might have been?
COLLINS: Well, we know that, between President Trump and President Macron, it was quite a lot of tension in that relationship, which is not something we typically have seen from the two leaders as they've interacted.
But largely that started with President Trump, who minutes after he landed here on French soil on Friday, sent off that critical tweet about the French president, really setting the stage for conflict for the two of them when they did hold that bilateral meeting yesterday.
And we watched it on camera. You can see between their body language it just really betrayed what the tension between them truly is, despite the warm words they were saying. There was very little high eye contact. No back slapping. None of the typical camaraderie we've seen from President Trump and President Macron before.
President Trump was in a sullen mood while he was here. Whether or not we see a different version of President Trump today, that is largely up for question because we have not seen him since he went to the dinner last night. No public remarks from the president but he is expected to speak today. So we'll see what he says then.
ALLEN: All right. Thank you, Kaitlan Collins, there in Paris as well. We'll talk to you again.
VANIER: Our Fareed Zakaria sat down a few hours ago with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris.
ALLEN: In his exclusive interview he asks about that tweet President Trump sent moments after arriving in Paris, criticizing Macron.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: Obviously, your expression about the European army irritated President Trump. He tweeted something about it.
Do you think that there is an inevitable clash here?
EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE: No. We had a very good discussion this morning and he confirmed in front of the press that he was OK. I think --
ZAKARIA: Does that mean his tweet was a mistake?
MACRON: I don't know. I'm not the one to comment on his tweets. I always prefer having direct discussion or answering questions, making my benefits (ph) for tweets. But I think we had a very clear discussion.
He is in favor of better burden sharing within NATO. I agree with that. And I think in order to have a better burden sharing, all of us do need more Europe. And I think the big mistake, to be very direct with you, what I don't want to see is European countries increasing the budget in defense in order to buy Americans' and other arms or materials coming from your industry. I think if we increase is to have to build our autonomy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: French president Emmanuel Macron speaking with Fareed Zakaria. See that exclusive interview in full in about six hours at 10:00 am in New York, 3:00 pm in London here on CNN.
VANIER: Let's get some perspective on President Trump's trip to Paris and his brand of diplomacy. We're joined by Leslie Vinjamuri, the head of the U.S. and Americas Programme at Chatham House in London.
First of all, I want to get your take on the same topic that Natalie was asking Kaitlan about, the fact Trump missed the visit to the Belleau Wood cemetery. What's surprising is not the fact that this particular president would buck protocol. He's done that before. It's also not surprising he doesn't feel bound by history. However,
he is a president that advertises himself as very supportive of the military. And he had an opportunity to go to a place that is a pilgrimage site for Marines.
LESLIE VINJAMURI, SOAS, UNIVERSITY OF LONDON: Yes, I think it's puzzling for exactly the reasons that you say and the symbolism of the American president not turning up on this 100th year commemoration of the armistice, the ending of the First World War is -- really can't be understated.
And we saw that reaction across Twitter and beyond over the last several hours. And it is puzzling.
You'd expect this American president would want to stand up and be recognized as being supporting the American military and recognizing those deaths. But for some reason, it just wasn't on the cards and, unfortunately, that will stay with us as we look back to these commemorations.
VANIER: And also, as you speak, we're looking at pictures of his chief of staff, General John Kelly, former general. And you have to wonder the excuse the White House gave was there was too much rain. Clearly, John Kelly was not prevented from going by the rain.
VINJAMURI: Yes; you know, President Trump, of course, brings his frustrations and his ambivalence towards Europe across for these commemorations. He's also, as we know, not staying on to join other European leaders and apparently Putin and Erdogan, all attending the inaugural Paris Peace Forum, which, for Macron, is tremendously important --
VANIER: Leslie, I'm going to jump in because you said the magic word there. We're also looking at live pictures of world leaders arriving and being greeted by the French president. As you said, Erdogan, right on cue, the Turkish president, is walking up the red carpet there. His wife shaking the hand of the French first lady.
Let me jump from that, from what we were discussing to -- and this is a broad question, forgive me -- the state of global affairs today. And here's my question.
There was a very big lesson learned by Europe in the World Wars I and II, that if you let national interests compete too much and you don't rein them in, you get millions and millions of people killed. It would seem -- and Europe has remembered that lesson ever since and that's why they take these commemorations so seriously.
Do you think Donald Trump threatens that?
VINJAMURI: Well, the president has pursued a line both domestically and in his international diplomacy too often, which seeks to stoke division, whether it's division within the United States --not even nationalism -- or whether it's nationalism through his American first policy abroad. We've seen this play out, surprisingly and I think distressingly to so many people.
This is why today is especially remarkable. We've seen him play this out with respect to America's most important allies, America's European partners.
If we go back 100 years ago, it's the beginning of the lesson which was that America and Europe are far stronger when they work together than America's critical to Europe's security and that European security is critical to America's doing well in the world and doing well for itself.
So it's -- those lessons are -- there are many lessons that have come out of the two wars. But that very important lesson of transatlantic partnership is one that this president simply hasn't embraced.
VANIER: Leslie, good to hear from you. We'll hear more from you over the next few hours. You'll be with us for this continuing coverage of these commemorations, which haven't quite begun yet. Leslie, we'll speak to you again.
VINJAMURI: Thank you.
ALLEN: World leaders continue to arrive there at the palace. We'll have more live coverage of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.
Next hour, the ceremony begins.
Also ahead, a town flattened to the ground as three massive fires burn in California and the flames do not seem to be stopping anytime soon. We'll have the latest.
VANIER: Welcome back. We continue to follow world leaders being greeted by the French president Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace. You're seeing the Romanian president Klaus Iohannis; just before him, the president of Chad, Idriss Deby now.
Some 70-plus world leaders being greeted, 100 delegations total arriving in Paris and about 30 to 40 minutes from now they'll be taking their seats at the top of the Arc de Triomphe for the commemorative event of the 100 years of the end of the First World War.
ALLEN: We'll continue to follow it.
Right now we want to turn to California, where large swaths of the state continue to burn. Firefighters are struggling to contain the flames in the northern part of the state. At least 23 people have died in the Camp Fire. It's already the most destructive fire in California's history and it is still growing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE KAUFMAN, CAL FIRE: Our acreage today, as of right now, is at 105,000 acres; 20 percent contained. Total personnel assigned to the fire right now is 4,050. Cost to date is approximately $8,089,294.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: Farther south, the Hill Fire and the Woolsey Fire are threatening thousands of people and property. The entire city of Malibu, known for its celebrity beachside homes, was forced to evacuate. The damage from these fires is so widespread, entire towns have been practically wiped out.
Our Dan Simon takes a look at what's left in Paradise, California.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is a community of about 27,000 people. And it is completely paralyzed. It's going to be weeks before residents are allowed back in. That's just to go through the rubble. Who knows what people will actually be allowed to live here again.
In the meantime, this is one of the neighborhoods that has been completely decimated by --
SIMON: -- this wildfire. You can see all these houses that have gone up in flames. One thing that's particularly striking is all of the burned-out vehicles. You can see this truck right here.
The devastation is so widespread. That's what's so striking; there's not just a confined area where you see the destruction. It's really everywhere. Homes and businesses and schools and medical facilities. You name it.
The good news is the containment is going up but the bad news is the winds are expected to pick up again so there is concern the wind could pick up some of these embers, fan the flames and you can see more destruction perhaps in neighboring communities.
But hopefully firefighters will continue getting the upper hand on this blaze -- Dan Simon, CNN, Paradise, California.
ALLEN: Joining us now is the president of California Professional Firefighters, Brian Rice. He joins us from Chico, California, via Skype.
Brian, we appreciate your time. Work this is a very, very hectic time for you and for so many there fighting these fires.
First, how do you begin to describe the devastation in the town of Paradise?
BRIAN RICE, PRESIDENT, CALIFORNIA PROFESSIONAL FIREFIGHTERS: Natalie, I was there earlier today and yesterday. And the town of Paradise is wiped out. You know, we see these wildland fires and we see the fires move through neighborhoods and destroy homes.
This is the entire town, businesses, both large and small, chain stores, the mom and pop stores. And I'm really worried for the area. I'm worried for the community, that they'll rebuild, that they'll be as strong as they were. The town of Paradise has been wiped out.
ALLEN: I want to ask you about that. This is a mountain town surrounded by woodland.
Considering the fire season is almost year-round as you've told us before, can they go back?
Should they go back?
Would it be safe to build back in this area?
RICE: You know, it's interesting about this fire; it's kind of a mountain and a mountaintop community. And when you go through, many of the mature pines, you know, they're 100 to 150 feet tall and most of them are going to survive this.
This didn't necessarily burn the timber that the town is built in and around. It was almost like a ground fire that went house to house to building to building. And, yes, some of the trees did burn but not like you'd expect.
You know, the trees, they still have the needles on them. They're still green. It was a ground level fire that was driven by wind.
ALLEN: I want to talk with you, Brian, about President Trump's initial response. He issued a condemning tweet regarding the fires, directed at the Forestry Service. Here it is. And I'll get you to respond.
He tweeted, "There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California, except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year with so many lives lost all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now," he tweeted, "or no more Fed payments."
What does he mean?
What remedy is he talking about?
RICE: Number one, I -- he made an ignorant statement that is stupid and it was callous and he's the president of the United States. So I know he has a staff and he is not well informed whatsoever.
At least 60 percent of the forest land in California is owned by the federal government and the national forests. And I believe that this fire originated in a national forest. And he has some deranged thinking that, you know, you take care of your forests just like you mow your lawn and you trim your trees in your backyard.
It's complex. There are hundreds of thousands, millions of acres of forest land in California and the workforce to do it does a hell of a job in protecting communities. California has been in a seven-year drought. Our dead fuel moistures are at an all-time low.
Combine that with the weather that we're having, the strong winds, the low humidities and that in itself is a recipe for disaster.
ALLEN: We appreciate your comments and we're sending out a lot of support for all the men and women that are fighting these fires and trying to save lives. Brian Rice, thanks for your time.
RICE: Natalie, thank you.
VANIER: Days after U.S. voters went to the polls for the midterm elections, Florida is set to see a recount in three statewide races.
CNN's Ryan Nobles explains why all eyes are on the contest for governor and U.S. Senate.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The recount is officially under way here in Florida. The secretary of state ordered it Saturday afternoon after all the votes from all 67 counties were recorded in his office.
In order for that recount to take place, the margin of victory had to be less than 0.5 percent. And that's exactly what we had in the governor's race, the U.S. Senate race and agriculture commissioner race.
That recount is already under way. And it will continue until Thursday of next week. We'll take a look at the numbers at that time. If any of these races fall within a quarter of a percent, they'll do a second more exhaustive hand recount of over votes and under votes.
That needs to be completed the 18th of November and that's when we should have our final idea of who will be the next governor and the next U.S. senator from Florida. I say but because there could be a massive legal challenge that comes after that fact, as both Democratic and Republican lawyers have descended on Florida, reminiscent of what we saw here 18 years ago during the 2000 presidential election.
As for now, Florida voters just sit and wait. It will take some time before they know who their next senator and next governor is -- Ryan Nobles, CNN, Tallahassee, Florida.
ALLEN: Back now live in Paris, you see German chancellor Angela Merkel arriving and having a photo made with the French president and Brigitte Macron as well as she arrives for the ceremony which begins in about 30 minutes from now.
VANIER: More than 70 world leaders being greeted by the French president and the French first lady. We saw several African heads of state and government and we just saw German chancellor. We will continue to follow this live on CNN. Stay with us.
VANIER: Welcome back. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier.
ALLEN: And I'm Natalie Allen. We are awaiting an armistice ceremony in Paris. It was 100 years ago today that the battlefields of World War I fell silent. The armistice was signed at 5:45 in the morning and, at 11:00 am in Paris, the bells rang and flags waved.
VANIER: So the ceremony is expected to start in less than 30 minutes. You're watching live pictures of the top of the Champs-Elysees. Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy greeting members of the current French government, who are taking their seats in the -- just under this tent at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe.
And that's where the ceremony is going to take place. About 70-plus world leaders expected here within about 25 minutes. CNN senior international correspondent Jim Bittermann joins me live in Paris.
Jim, detail for us what's going to happen over the next few hours.
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think, Cyril, as the French have planned this out minute by minute, I think what we'll see is the world leaders coming up the avenue, up the Avenue Champs- Elysees, arriving, taking their seats.
And then there will be a solemn beginning to the ceremony. A kind of mournful music; Yo-Yo Ma and his cello will be performing J.S. Bach, a piece that's rather mournful. But then it will move on to more of a celebratory atmosphere.
They have young people from high schools, about the same age as those soldiers who would have fought in the Great War, reading the letters from soldiers who were at the front when the news came that, in fact, armistice had arrived and the guns fell silent. And across France, one of the things I heard you talk about earlier,
Cyril, about how this is remembered around France. Across France, in every town and every little village, there will be ceremonies to mark the end of the war.
There is every year, in fact; in my little village in Normandy, the veterans come out and they join at the monument a mort, which is the monument to the dead. The monuments were erected shortly after World War I, which lists the names of all those local people who were killed in the war.
And in my village, they read the names off and have a very -- a silent moment for remembrance. And I think we'll see also a moment of silence here. And, of course, it was after World War I that nations gathered together to form the League of Nations, something that had been --
BITTERMANN: -- talked about even before World War I. But the idea that multilateralism could help to stave off future wars -- and I think that's one of the things that Emmanuel Macron, today's French president, has been very much in favor of.
Although we hear from the Trump folks that they're not so much in favor of that in the United States.
VANIER: Yes, and just looking at the line of world leaders who are welcomed by Emmanuel Macron, the Elysee underscores -- you said the word multilateralism and you talked about the global concerns about this -- just underscores that the World War really was a world war.
I know that sounds trite but in the sense that more than 80 countries were involved in this, that's a majority of the countries in the world at the time that that war took place. A majority of the countries were involved in this war.
And, Jim, you and I were both in Paris a couple years ago, when world leaders gathered and walked through the streets of Paris for a very different event, after the terror attacks at "Charlie Hebdo." There are very few things I can think of that would gather this many world leaders under one tent.
BITTERMANN: I can think of actually none other, other than the United Nations General Assembly and then they come in over a period of days. No, it really is significant.
I should just add to that, Cyril, it's a terrible nightmare for the security folks here. They mobilized more than 10,000 police and security to handle this crowd of dignitaries. And it is something you just don't ever see.
And I think as you also mentioned a little earlier, Cyril, it's something that French President Macron probably enjoys quite a bit because he's stage managed this whole operation, starting a year ago when he first came into office. It was one of the very first things he addressed.
So I think we'll see a very moving ceremony today and the stress will be on multilateralism, because that's very much something that President Macron believes can solve a lot of the world problems, with the climate change treaty and other things that the world can get together on.
And, in fact, can agree to address together, can use the force of multiple nations to solve the problems of the world. So I think we'll probably hear some of that talk in his speech today, which he's scheduled to address, scheduled to make in about, oh, I would say, probably an hour from now.
VANIER: Jim Bittermann, thanks so much.
Jim is going to be one of the people in Paris with the best views of this, if you aren't watching on TV. He's just down the road from where this is taking place, albeit possibly a kilometer down the road, but he's on the Champs-Elysees. So he'll be seeing some of this from his vantage point. We'll talk to him again later.
ALLEN: Let's go now to our international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson. He is also live for us in Paris.
And we just heard, Nic, Jim talking about the multilateralism and that being so important to the French president.
Why don't you take it from there and talk to the larger issue of geopolitics surrounding this gathering?
ROBERTSON: Yes, in many ways, President Trump does come here as something as an outlier; if we go back to the G7 summit in Italy last summer or the G7 summit in Canada this summer or some of the G20 summits that have held.
Of course, these have had a small core of global leaders attending them but President Trump, you know, from the summit in Sicily, Italy, last year, indicating that he was going to not endorse the Paris climate change agreement, which was very important for France, something very important to -- that has become very important for President Emmanuel Macron.
He really -- President Trump, in many ways, it would be hard to imagine him coming to a country whose leader does not stand at the polar opposite of where President Trump positions himself, as somebody who wants to take down some of these global institutions that the United States and its economic power and its diplomatic power and its political influence globally, following World War II, which was, in essence, a consequence of a failure of the ultimate peace agreement after World War I to stick.
These institutions that came into play so that World War I, there would never be such a war again. You know, President Trump stands at the opposite pole to President Macron. It is fitting in some ways that President Macron would host a global
gathering of this nature. We've heard from the White House officials, saying that President Trump has arrived here in a somewhat sour and testy mood. We've seen that in his body language with the French president in their bilateral meeting yesterday.
ROBERTSON: President Trump didn't make it out to the graves of American servicemen, just 60 miles outside of Paris, 90 kilometers outside of Paris yesterday. The weather prohibited his attending that. President Macron drove out by car to a different event at a different location.
So President Trump, when you stand him next to president Emmanuel Macron, does seem like a very different leader with a very different view of the world. And perhaps that's something that both of them find awkward in their relationship.
President Emmanuel Macron does, in his body language, really does seem to try to bring President Trump into the tent, if you will, into that global internationalism tent. President Trump, we understand, will be the last of the world leaders to arrive at the Arc de Triomphe over the next few minutes and, we understand, the first to depart.
Of course, all of this is easy to read and put an interpretation on it. But, you know, I think there will be many people who look at this and think President Trump perhaps hasn't engaged in this event in the way that his host would have dearly seen him -- would dearly liked to have seen him engage.
ALLEN: Yes, and he has a lot going on back at home as well. So much on his mind, no doubt. Nic Robertson for us. We'll talk with you again as the events get under way. Thank you, Nic.
VANIER: We continue to keep an eye on these pictures coming to us from Central Paris. We'll have more live coverage of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. The French cabinet assembling, getting ready to take their seats at the top of the Arc de Triomphe -- beg your pardon; at the top of the Champs-Elysees, the foot of the Arc de Triomphe.
Next hour, the ceremony begins and French President Macron will be speaking as well. We'll bring you all of that live.
VANIER: Live pictures right now in Central Paris, where the commemorative event marking the 100 --
[04:45:00] VANIER: -- years of the end of the First World War will be taking place. The commemoration begins in about 15 minutes. You should be seeing 70-odd world leaders and foreign dignitaries walking up at the very top of the Champs-Elysees and taking their seats under this tent where this ceremony will be taking place. We'll carry all of that live here on CNN.
ALLEN: Let's talk about World War I and the end of it with Kate Williams, she's a lecturer at the University of London, specializing in modern history. She talks about the legacy of World War I.
Kate, thank you so much. We know there's also --
KATE WILLIAMS, HISTORIAN: Thank you.
ALLEN: -- commemorations going on in London as well as in many other countries. We appreciate your coming in.
One assassin's bullet started a brutal war.
No one quite knew, the soldiers did not know back then, what war would be like, did they?
WILLIAMS: No, there was a definite perception when war broke out in August 1914 that it would all be over by Christmas. Everyone would be getting back home for Christmas.
They had no idea that it would be what it became, the Great War, the World War, that it would encompass so many countries across the globe, so many soldiers.
For example, in Britain, it encompassed all the Empire soldiers, based in India, the West Indies, countries throughout the empire and there were so many fronts, not just in Europe but also in Africa, in Asia and also in the Middle East.
And we do -- it's hard to estimate but we do estimate that the final death toll was 10 million civilians and about 10 million soldiers as well, with millions more wounded. So it really did touch every life across Europe and across the world.
ALLEN: It started with two countries and then three and four and went on and on and on. And now we see, the 100 years on, as we look at the ceremony that's about to take place.
What do you think is the overarching message in this somber reflection of this First World War?
WILLIAMS: It's so important to have these commemorations, to commemorate the end of World War I and across -- they are happening across the world, as you are saying, there's big commemorations in London. The royal family are here.
And really it does remind us about the sacrifice and the bravery of all those soldiers, who fought and those who were at home, sacrificing, taking over the men's jobs, the women who are working and ambulance driving and everything that people did to keep the world going, keep the country going.
And I think also to remind us about the great -- the great suffering and the great horror of war and the human cost it entails for families who lost all their children and lost their sons. And, really, to make us think, this should never happen again.
ALLEN: I think it was the Russian soldiers who first started asking, what are we doing here? Why is this happening?
And then it spread other to soldiers that, realizing the pain and horror of war.
How was Europe changed after the war ended?
WILLIAMS: Well, yes, Natalie, I think Europe could never be the same again. It was so changed, individualized. People had a completely different life. They'd lost their children. Women had been in the workforce when they had not been before, when women came back.
And the huge loss of life. There was no way that it could be the innocence that it had been; it was indelibly changed and people, most of all, were vowing, on this day in 1918, it was huge celebrations. Every city was full of people celebrating, singing and dancing.
The thought they would be at peace now, that they would never have to go to war again. Of course, we know that wasn't the case. We've had wars throughout the 20th and 21st century.
And I think that it really was a great change in people's lives in the Great War that Europe and the world wouldn't be the same again. It was completely reconfigured.
ALLEN: We've been seeing a motorcade, two buses coming, so we expect those are leaders that will be arriving here at the Arc de Triomphe in just a moment.
Europe did see the rise of fascism after World War I. And today there are fears of the rise of fascism here 100 years later. Former secretary of state Madeleine Albright addressed that in her recent book.
What are your thoughts on Europe tilting back to the Right?
WILLIAMS: Yes, when we look back to the end of World War I, there was a treaty imposed upon the losers, essentially German forces and their allies, called the Treaty of Versailles, which we could argue was really very punitive in what it imposed on Germany.
All countries were poor after World War I. They were all suffering, trying to reconstruct. And Germany was doubly poor due to the massive reparations or payments imposed upon it.
And there are many arguments that the great poverty in Germany and the great suffering really caused the right environment for fascism to rise, for Hitler to rise. And Hitler certainly saw himself as avenging what had happened to Germany and fed upon that. So certainly we can see the rise of fascism --
WILLIAMS: -- in actual -- linked to the aftermath of World War I. And certainly it is rising again once more.
But we're in a different position. We weren't as economically on our knees as they were in the aftermath of World War I. This is the fascism rising from all sorts of different reasons and rise of the far right.
I think it's times like this, when we look back on what fascism has done, what the far right has done, what extreme ideologies can do to people's lives and to change them forever and cause such death and suffering, that it's time for us to take a view and think calmly about how we should behave to each other.
ALLEN: Kate, stand by. We'll talk with you again.
There is the eternal flame that Cyril was just saying has not gone out in...
VANIER: Since the early 1920s. It was built and installed right after World War I. The flame on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier right under the Arc de Triomphe and that is what symbolizes the sacrifice and the death of all the French soldiers who were killed in World War I.
Now there are other similar monuments in quite a few other countries symbolizing all these Unknown Soldiers, soldiers who weren't identified. There's a story around this tomb. We'll get to that later. That will be a central part of the commemoration.
We're watching live pictures from Central Paris. And we saw two buses pull up. And we are wondering, we don't have the answer yet but we're wondering and we believe that they may well be the 70 heads of state and government.
We're going to be walking up the last stretch of the Champs-Elysees and be taking their seats under the Arc de Triomphe. You're also seeing a delegation, a convoy driving up the Champs-Elysees. One of them had an American flag on it. There is good reason to believe that the U.S. president might be in it.
All right. Let's bring in Kaitlan Collins, who is covering President Trump from Paris.
Kaitlan, give us a sense before these ceremonies, before the commemoration kicks off, of the frame of mind that Donald Trump is in as he goes through this visit. He did not appear to be in a good mood when he arrived.
COLLINS: He didn't but that could be because the tension between him and the French president -- but there he is. You see his motorcade. He just drove past us on his way down to the beginning of this ceremony. It does not appear that he went to the ceremony or to the coffee meet
and greet with the other world leaders earlier this morning, as you can see them all arriving here in Paris earlier today.
It appears the president is coming straight from the ambassador's residence, where he's been staying. He's going straight to this ceremony here with the first lady, Melania Trump. They'll be at the ceremony. The president is expected to make remarks later on today. Those will be the first formal remarks of the president's trip and the first time we've heard from President Trump since the beginning of the bilateral meeting with the French president, Emmanuel Macron, yesterday, where it was a lot of tension between the two leaders.
You saw that laid bare with their body language there. Even though they said the words, they were here to strengthen their alliance, to place importance to that and that they agreed on several issues, a lot of mutual agreement, you could see between the way they interacted that that just wasn't the case.
The two of them were actually -- it was quite -- no warmth. There was a lot of woodenness between the two leaders. Then they went on to the dinner last night. The president there. We did not hear from him or see from him last night until this morning, now that he is arriving here, slowly making their way up the street there.
And this comes as President Trump himself is facing criticism for what he didn't do yesterday here in Paris. He was scheduled to go to a cemetery, where American soldiers who died in World War I are buried. But the White House scrapped that trip, saying that the weather was too poor for him to travel via helicopter as he had been scheduled to do.
That created in itself a storm of its own, with the president weathering some criticism for not going, even despite making the nearly 4,000-mile trip here to commemorate the end of World War I.
Today he is scheduled to go to another cemetery where American soldiers are also buried. That's where President Trump is going to make some remarks today. We'll see if that actually does go on as scheduled.
Again, it is raining here in Paris. Similar weather to what we saw yesterday when they scrapped that trip; except today President Trump is scheduled to drive to that trip, not take a helicopter.
So hopefully he'll be able to make it today. Another chance for him to pay his respects. But certainly the ceremony is going to start with President Trump facing some criticism.
VANIER: A couple things. I'm getting word that seconds ago --
VANIER: -- and I say this as we watch the live pictures of the U.S. president's car pull up to the Arc de Triomphe. All right, these pictures from moments ago, we just saw -- (CROSSTALK)
ALLEN: You see here on the side.
VANIER: -- on the side of the screen. Try to pull up to the U.S. president's car but that person was quickly taken away.
Security is an issue here. Security, we're going to look at these pictures again. I want to give you a word of context. Security is an issue here. It always is when you have world leaders, especially the U.S. president.
Look screen right there. That person apprehended --
VANIER: And she did get awfully close to the car. Natalie's right.
And that person apprehended by French gendarmes. Now there is security lining all the Champs-Elysees right now. That entire section has been blocked off. There's nobody walking on the sidewalk right now.
It is very surprising that somebody has been able to get that close to the convoy. Kaitlan, Just want an early reaction from you, just on the issue of security.
COLLINS: That was really close. Certainly something that's probably going to be a concern. You can see just how close that person gets. That is the car that President Trump is in. That's what they call the beast in America. That's the car that President Trump and likely first lady Melania Trump are riding in.
But it's not exactly a surprise there are protesters at this event today because President Trump, as you know, is deeply unpopular in France. I believe some polls show he has over a 65 percent disapproval rating here in Europe.
The president has not been popular at all with world leaders. In fact, some leaders in Europe have faced criticism for seeming too close to President Trump. And he has made some remarks lately that will likely further that unpopularity.
One that comes to mind is his remarks in recent weeks that he is a nationalist and considers himself to be one. That's exactly what the French president Emmanuel Macron, during his tour this week as he traveled around the country, is trying to combat, this idea of nationalism and populism. He is trying to warn of the dangers of that.
So two very different ideologies from the world leaders in that sense. Now President Trump says he's a nationalist in an economic sense. He wants to put America first in that sense and that is what he means when he's using that word.
But that's certainly something that has made him open to some criticism as all of this has gone on. Certainly you can see from the leaders there or the protesters there that that's a similar feeling in Europe.
That reminds me of when the president traveled to London earlier this year and there were quite a few number of protests that sometimes went up to the thousands of people, protesting in the streets of London that President Trump was there.
Now those weren't protesters that President Trump ever saw because he was never actually right in the heart of London. They went to -- he and British prime minister Theresa May held their bilateral meeting at Chequers, so quite a distance from the city.
But certainly it does show just what the president faces when he does travel abroad, something he doesn't do quite often. Or when he does travel, he's not there in the city making stops. This is something we talked about yesterday when the president canceled that trip to that cemetery.
He had roughly six or seven hours back at the ambassador's residence where he is staying, where he did not partake in any activities. The questions were raised whether the president could go somewhere locally, that they had a backup plan for something like that since it was canceled because of the weather.
Instead he stayed back at his residence and did not venture out into the city to mingle with any of the people or anything like that. So that is certainly some of the concerns that President Trump has faced when he does travel.
There are often protests, people protesting him. And a lot of that comes from his mentality that he wants to put America first. And we've really seen him be so disruptive on the international stage since he took office, something that his supporters back at home in America praise him for.
They think that's something that was long overdue from an American leader, to put America first again instead of putting global ties first.
VANIER: Well, I'll tell you, French authorities will be very unhappy about this. The image that we just saw, exactly what they wanted to avoid, especially as there's heightened security context here.
And, of course, there's always exponentially more danger and attention being paid when a U.S. president is in town. But we're in a context in France, where a man was arrested just a few days ago for -- he was accused of having a violent act in mind.
I don't know what level of preparation he was, that he wanted to carry out against the French president. So there's a heightened security context here.
All right. We're almost at the top of the hour. It is almost 11:00 am local time in Paris. We're watching live pictures. And if you are just joining us, here's what's happening: 70-plus world leaders are gathered in Central Paris to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.