18 December 2018   Leave a comment

The yellow vest protests continued in France despite a government plea to suspend the protests, but the number of protesters was smaller than on the previous four Saturdays.  President Macron made a number of concessions to the protesters last Monday:  “Having already scrapped a fuel tax rise, Mr Macron promised an extra €100 (£90; $114) a month for minimum wage earners and tax cuts for pensioners.”  Those concessions seemed to have lessened the intensity of the protests, but have raised questions about the financial stability of the country since they would cost about $11 billion.  Writing in Salon, Andrew O’Hehir argues that the politics in France, Germany, Britain, and the US are all connected:

“No graduate-level comprehension of history or politics is necessary to perceive that these unfolding events in the three most important Western democracies, while unquestionably local or national in character, are not separate or disconnected. Throw in the slow-motion downward trajectory of Germany, with Angela Merkel on her way out and nationalism on the rise, and this process of decay clearly afflicts the four most important Western democracies.

“These disparate political crises are all manifestations of the same deeper phenomenon, which is amorphous and threatening and admittedly difficult to talk about. This could be called the crisis of democratic legitimacy, which has been creeping towards us from the periphery of the Western world for some time and just accelerated abruptly. We see it right now, playing out in the state capitols of Wisconsin and Michigan, in the streets of Paris, and in the pseudo-medieval rituals of the House of Commons.”

O’Hehir intimates that the deepening income inequality in these countries is responsible for this transformation.  I think it is unquestionably the cause of it.

 

 

Simon Tisdall is an editorial writer for the Guardian and I especially like his analyses of world politics.  He has an interesting take on the dispute between the US and China over the arrest of the CFO of Huawei, Meng Wanzhou.  The US has managed to persuade other countries, notably Germany, to be suspicious of Huawei products, specifically its new 5G telephone.  Tisdall considers the extra-territorial reach of US law on this matter to be out of date and inappropriate in today’s world, and China’s challenge to the US claims to be actually a challenge to US hegemony.  More importantly, Tisdall considers both the US and China to be pursuing a fool’s game in this matter:

“There can be little doubt Meng is a highly symbolic victim of this global rivalry. Typically clueless, Trump gave the game away when he explicitly linked the possible dropping of the case against her to resolving the US-China trade war. Trump’s clumsy intervention – rapidly disavowed by his own justice department – left the US looking no better than Beijing. Both sides appear guilty of what amounts, in effect, to hostage-taking – not what the world expects from superpowers.”

Humility, however, has never been a strong point for world powers.

 

Posted December 18, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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