20 January 2019   Leave a comment

The “yellow vest” protests have continued in France, raising serious questions about the viability of President Macron’s government. In response to this expression of discontent with the economic situation in France, Macron has initiated what he calls the “grand débat, a series of town hall meetings mediated by mayors in France. Rachel Donadio outlines some of the issues being raised which suggest that the French citizenry is deeply dissatisfied with the status quo:

“As part of the national debate, citizens can register their concerns in cahiers de doléances, or grievance logs, a practice first put into use during the French Revolution. An online forum that polled citizens’ concerns showed a vast range of issues: Some wanted to change unemployment compensation, or increase taxes for the rich and on second homes, or proposed the elimination of bank fees; others were upset that the government had reduced the speed limit to 80 km an hour. For his part, Macron asked his constituents to consider which public services they wouldn’t mind reducing. That’s something of a taboo in France, where citizens of every political persuasion rely on the state for all manner of support—the exact opposite of American-style mistrust of government.”

Cole Stangler gives a number of reasons why Macron’s strategy will not likely defuse the growing discontent.

Apparently there will be a second summit meeting between US President Trump and North Korean leader Kim in Vietnam sometime next month. The reasons for the meeting are not clear to me–there has been little to suggest that the two sides have really bridged any of their disagreements over the meaning of the word “denuclearization”. Additionally, the US is currently embroiled in discussions with South Korea over sharing the costs of the US military presence in South Korea. The US is probably eager to re-establish contact with Kim after Kim’s recent visit to China, fearing that the Chinese will continue to reduce pressure on North Korea. There is a great deal of evidence that, except for its testing program, North Korea has continued to build up its nuclear arsenal since thee first summit meeting. Kim Jong-un has proven to be a very intelligent strategist.

Posted January 20, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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