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North Korea warns Donald Trump: don’t provoke us ahead of the Kim-Trump summit

North Korea accuses Donald Trump of ‘ruining the atmosphere’ by making false claims ahead of the talks

Alexander Mercouris

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A year ago the situation in the Korean Peninsula appeared to be sliding rapidly towards war, with North Korea pressing ahead with its ballistic missile and nuclear tests, with Donald Trump, the US’s newly elected and highly inexperienced President tweeting threats of military action, with General H.R. McMaster, Donald Trump’s hawkish National Security Adviser lobbying for military action, and US fleets moving backwards and forwards towards the Korean Peninsula alongside wild talk that they might be about to be used in action.

A year later the mood is transformed.

Kim Jong-un – North Korea’s much demonised Great Leader – has now held successful summit meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and is negotiating the terms of a summit meeting with US President Donald Trump.

Meanwhile North and South Korea have fielded a joint Olympic team at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, North Korea has announced a freeze of its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme, and the leaders of the two Koreas – Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in – have publicly committed themselves to negotiating a peace treaty between their two countries and to the total denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

What changed?

Firstly, it is clear that the major moves since the start of the year have come from Kim Jong-un.   It was he who proposed that North Korean athletes participate in the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, who sent his sister to attend the Games, who received a high powered South Korean delegation in Pyongyang, and who has now had highly successful summit meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing and with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Panmunjom

President Trump and his officials obviously claim it was the mounting sanctions pressure on North Korea.

The North Koreans strongly reject this and say that by repeatedly making this claim President Trump and his officials are ‘poisoning’ the mood in advance of the Kim-Trump summit.  A recent North Korean statement makes the point in trenchant terms

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea gave the following answer to a question put by KCNA on Sunday as regards the U.S. increased pressure against the DPRK:

Recently, the U.S. is misleading the public opinion, arguing as if the DPRK’s clarification of its intention for denuclearization of the Korean peninsula made through the Panmunjom Declaration adopted at the historic north-south summit is the result of so-called sanctions and pressure.

At the same time, it is making open remarks that it would not ease the sanctions and pressure until the DPRK gives up its nuclear weapons completely and also moving to aggravate the situation on the Korean peninsula by deploying strategic assets on the peninsula and increasing its attempt of taking up “human rights” issue against the DPRK.

The U.S. is deliberately provoking the DPRK at the time when the situation on the Korean peninsula is moving toward peace and reconciliation thanks to the historic north-south summit and the Panmunjom Declaration. This act cannot be construed otherwise than a dangerous attempt to ruin the hardly-won atmosphere of dialogue and bring the situation back to square one.

It would not be conducive to addressing the issue if the U.S. miscalculates the peace-loving intention of the DPRK as a sign of “weakness” and continues to pursue its pressure and military threats against the latter.

The reality is that though the sanctions have undoubtedly hurt the North Korean economy, China and Russia have consistently refused to cut off crude oil deliveries to North Korea, limiting the amount of pain the sanctions are causing.

All the reports of Kim Jong-un’s discussions with the South Korean dignitaries, with Chinese President Xi Jinping and with South Korean President Moon Jae-in  speak of him being in a confident and even buoyant mood, a fact which speaks against him having been forced into negotiations he didn’t want.

All the indications in fact are that Kim Jong-un on the contrary feels that North Korea’s successful development of intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons have put him in a position of strength.  That is why he has now acted to start negotiations with China, South Korea and the US, as he seeks to cash in the advantage North Korea’s ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons have given him.

In fact this has almost certainly been the North Korean game plan right from the start, with the North Koreans having decided a decade ago that they would not be able to force the US to the negotiating table until and unless they were seen to possess intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.

As to what facts has spurred the blizzard of initiatives which have poured out of Pyongyang over the last few months, they are in fact almost certainly traceable to two events which took place last year.

The first was China’s confirmation in August 2017 that it would defend North Korea in the event that the US were to launch a military attack on North Korea intended to overthrow the government there.

I discussed this Chinese commitment to defend North Korea in an article for The Duran dated 11th August 2017.  In it I said the following

Yesterday in an article for The Duran I said that China’s patience with the US was almost exhausted and the Global Times editorial straightforwardly says this, putting the US on the same level of childishness as North Korea and saying that China has given up hope of persuading these two countries to start behaving like grown-ups.  It says that in light of this “reckless” behaviour by both sides – with the greater onus to behave responsibly being however first and foremost on the US since it is by far the stronger party – China is obliged to make clear to both sides what its red lines are

Beijing is not able to persuade Washington or Pyongyang to back down at this time. It needs to make clear its stance to all sides and make them understand thatwhen their actions jeopardize China’s interests, China will respond with a firm hand.

(bold italics added)

Then comes the clear statement of what the red lines are, and what in the event of armed conflict China will do

China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten US soil first and the US retaliates, China will stay neutral.If the US and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.

(bold italics added)

In other words if North Korea is so stupid as to launch an unprovoked attack on the US – which in this context probably covers the wild and reckless North Korean threat to launch a missile demonstration against Guam – it is on its own.  However if the US attacks North Korea – either as part of some ‘pre-emptive’ strategy or in order to achieve regime change there, China will come to North Korea’s defence.

The Global Times editorial – wisely – does not spell out what China would in that case do.  However since the discussion is one of war the necessary implication must be that in the event of a US attack on North Korea China will respond militarily.

Probably that response will be graduated and will depend on how severe the US attack on North Korea might be.  However since the editorial says that the survival of the North Korea is a matter of Chinese national interest, the necessary implication must be that in the event of a straightforward US-South Korean invasion of North Korea to achieve regime change there the Chinese response would be direct intervention by the Chinese armed forces to prevent that happening.

China and North Korea have a defence treaty which they agreed with each other in 1961 and which is still active.  Article 2 of the treaty reads as follows

The Contracting Parties undertake jointly to adopt all measures to prevent aggression against either of the Contracting Parties by any state. In the event of one of the Contracting Parties being subjected to the armed attack by any state or several states jointly and thus being involved in a state of war, the other Contracting Party shall immediately render military and other assistance by all means at its disposal.

The Global Times editorial of August 2017 which I discussed in my 11th August 2017 article reaffirmed that China would fulfil its commitment to North Korea under article 2 of the 1961 treaty, something which because of the increasing strain in Chinese-North Korean relations many had started to doubt.

That gave Kim Jong-un and his advisers the vital guarantee of China’s continued commitment to North Korea’s continued independence which they needed in order to press ahead with their opening to the US and to South Korea.

The second event was the coming to power in South Korea of Moon Jae-in, who won South Korea’s Presidential election of 9th May 2017 following the impeachment and removal from office of South Korea’s hardline and (as it turned out) corrupt previous President, Park Geun-hye, the daughter of South Korea’s former dictator Park Chung-hee.

That provided Kim Jong-un with a South Korean leader known to favour dialogue with North Korea whom he could negotiate with as a partner.

The result is North Korea’s proposal for an end to the state of war which has existed in the Korean Peninsula since the 1940s, its proposal for a process of reconciliation and peaceful reintegration of the two Koreas, and lastly its proposal for the total denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, which the North Koreans are quite clear must include the removal of US nuclear forces from the Korean Peninsula as well as their own.

There is also no doubt that the long term plan of the North Koreans (and of the Chinese and the Russians) is to see US military forces removed from South Korea in their entirety.

Donald Trump has publicly ruled that out, as has the South Korean government.  That some people within the South Korean government are however willing to at least consider that possibility has however been confirmed by an article by South Korean Presidential adviser Moon Chung-in which reportedly said that the continued presence of US troops in South Korea would be “difficult to justify” if the two Koreas agreed a peace treaty between them.

As I have previously discussed, diplomatic moves to break the impasse in the Korean conflict first became visible in September and October when a senior North Korean diplomat, Choe Son Hui, engaged in high level contacts in the Foreign Ministry in Moscow.   Anyone who observed those moves closely – and subsequent diplomatic moves involving South Korea and China – would not have been surprised by the sudden breakthrough at the start of the year.

The key to the end of the Korean conflict is not as many insist in sorting out the differences between North Korea and the US.  Rather it is in achieving a reconciliation between the two Koreas.  It is that process which is now underway, and which took a further major step forward in the Kim-Moon summit in Panmunjom.

Neither North Korea nor South Korea have any wish or desire to exclude the US from the discussions, and nor do the other Great Powers which are involved in the conflict: China and Russia.

On the contrary the intention is to replace the present state of war on the Korean Peninsula with a peace treaty of which the US and China would be co-guarantors, with the US and China participating with the two Koreas in what would in effect be a supplemental security treaty.

However, as I have said in the past, if the US digs in its heels and makes demands which appear to obstruct the course of peace in the Korean Peninsula, then North and South Korea and China are perfectly capable of moving ahead with the peace process by themselves without the formal participation of the US.

Not only does the danger of war in the Korean Peninsula create an incentive for such a thing to happen, but the benefits of peace for the two Koreas are so obvious and so strong that if the US tries to impede the process they are highly likely to continue without it.

Suffice to say that directly after his meeting with Kim Jong-un South Korean President Moon Jae-in telephoned Russian President Putin not only to brief him about the talks but in order to obtain Putin’s assurance that the long proposed rail and pipeline projects linking the Korean Peninsula with the rest of Eurasia will immediately proceed as soon as a peace treaty between the two Koreas is in place.

That assurance Putin was fully able – even anxious – to give, as the detailed report of the conversation between him and Moon Jae-in provided by the Kremlin website confirms

The President of the Republic of Korea provided a detailed account of his meeting with the DPRK leader Kim Jong-Un in Panmunjom and its outcomes.

During the conversation, the two sides gave a positive assessment to the agreements that were reached at the meeting, with special focus on the provision in the Panmunjom Declaration stating the intention to achieve the full denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. The two presidents expressed confidence that coordinated steps to promote cooperation between the two Koreas would help the region move toward peace and stability.

Vladimir Putin reaffirmed Russia’s readiness to continue facilitating practical cooperation between the Republic of Korea and the DPRK, including through major trilateral projects in infrastructure and energy.

Vladimir Putin stressed the importance for all the parties concerned to keep up their efforts to achieve a political and diplomatic settlement, including by following the principles set forth in the Russia-China roadmap for a settlement on the Korean Peninsula.

The two presidents also discussed topical bilateral matters focusing on ways of expanding mutually beneficial cooperation in various areas. They also agreed on a schedule of future top-level contacts.

(bold italics added)

The North Korean statement accusing Donald Trump and his officials of ‘poisoning the atmosphere’ in advance of the Kim-Trump summit should be seen for it is: a warning to Donald Trump that his position in advance of the talks is not as strong as he appears to think it is and that he should not overplay his hand.

Conciliatory noises from South Korea – such as the frankly bizarre suggestion that Donald Trump should be given the Nobel Peace Prize – do not erase this warning.

Donald Trump will be given all the plaudits he wants – and more arguably than he deserves – if supports the peace process which is now underway.

He risks being isolated and the US marginalised if instead he obstructs it.

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French opposition rejects Macron’s concessions to Yellow Vests, some demand ‘citizen revolution’

Mélenchon: “I believe that Act 5 of the citizen revolution in our country will be a moment of great mobilization.”

RT

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Via RT…


Macron’s concessions to the Yellow Vests has failed to appease protesters and opposition politicians, such as Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who called for “citizen’s revolution” to continue until a fair distribution of wealth is achieved.

Immediately after French President Macron declared a “social and economic state of emergency” in response to large-scale protests by members of the Yellow Vest movement, promising a range of concessions to address their grievances, left-wing opposition politician Mélenchon called on the grassroots campaign to continue their revolution next Saturday.

I believe that Act 5 of the citizen revolution in our country will be a moment of great mobilization.

Macron’s promise of a €100 minimum wage increase, tax-free overtime pay and end-of-year bonuses, Mélenchon argued, will not affect any “considerable part” of the French population. Yet the leader of La France Insoumise stressed that the “decision” to rise up rests with “those who are in action.”

“We expect a real redistribution of wealth,” Benoît Hamon, a former presidential candidate and the founder of the Mouvement Génération, told BFM TV, accusing Macron’s package of measures that benefit the rich.

The Socialist Party’s first secretary, Olivier Faure, also slammed Macron’s financial concessions to struggling workers, noting that his general “course has not changed.”

Although welcoming certain tax measures, Marine Le Pen, president of the National Rally (previously National Front), accused the president’s “model” of governance based on “wild globalization, financialization of the economy, unfair competition,” of failing to address the social and cultural consequences of the Yellow Vest movement.

Macron’s speech was a “great comedy,”according to Debout la France chairman, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, who accused the French President of “hypocrisy.”

Yet many found Melanchon’s calls to rise up against the government unreasonable, accusing the 67-year-old opposition politician of being an “opportunist” and “populist,” who is trying to hijack the social protest movement for his own gain.

Furthermore, some 54 percent of French believe the Yellow Vests achieved their goals and want rallies to stop, OpinionWay survey showed. While half of the survey respondents considered Macron’s anti-crisis measures unconvincing, another 49 percent found the president to be successful in addressing the demands of the protesters. Some 68 percent of those polled following Macron’s speech on Monday especially welcomed the increase in the minimum wage, while 78 percent favored tax cuts.

The Yellow Vest protests against pension cuts and fuel tax hikes last month were organized and kept strong via social media, without help from France’s powerful labor unions or official political parties. Some noted that such a mass mobilization of all levels of society managed to achieve unprecedented concessions from the government, which the unions failed to negotiate over the last three decades.

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Soros Mimics Hitler’s Bankers: Will Burden Europeans With Debt To ‘Save’ Them

George Soros is dissatisfied with the current EU refugee policy because it is still based on quotas.

The Duran

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Via GEFIRA:


After the Second World War, many economists racked their brains to answer the question of how Hitler managed to finance his armament, boost the economy and reduce unemployment.

Today his trick is well known. The economic miracle of Führer’s time became possible thanks to the so-called Mefo promissory notes.

The notes were the idea of the then President of the Reichsbank, Hjalmar Schacht, and served not only to finance the armament of the Wehrmacht for the Second World War, but also to create state jobs, which would otherwise not have been possible through the normal use of the money and capital markets, i.e. the annual increase in savings in Germany.

The Reich thus financed the armaments industry by accepting notes issued by the dummy company Metallurgische Forschungsgesellschaft GmbH (hence the name Mefo) rather than paying them in cash. The creation of money was in full swing from 1934 to 1938 – the total amount of notes issued at that time was 12 billion marks. The Reichsbank declared to the German banks that it was prepared to rediscount the Mefo notes, thus enabling the banks to discount them.

Because of their five-year term, the redemption of notes had to begin in 1939 at the latest. This threatened with enormous inflation. Since Schacht saw this as a threat to the Reichsmark, he expressed his doubts about the Reich Minister of Finance. But it did not help, and Schacht was quickly replaced by Economics Minister Walther Funk, who declared that the Reich would not redeem the Mefo notes, but would give Reich bonds to the Reichsbank in exchange. At the time of Funk, the autonomous Reichsbank statute was abolished, the Reichsbank was nationalized, and inflation exploded in such a way that Mefo notes with a circulation of 60 billion Reichsmark burdened the budget in post-war Germany.

George Soros also proposes such a money flurry in the style of Schacht and Funk.

Soros is dissatisfied with the current EU refugee policy because it is still based on quotas. He calls on the EU heads of state and governments to effectively deal with the migrant crisis through money flooding, which he calls “surge funding”.

“This would help to keep the influx of refugees at a level that Europe can absorb.”

Can absorb? Soros would be satisfied with the reception of 300,000 to 500,000 migrants per year. However, he is aware that the costs of his ethnic exchange plan are not financially feasible. In addition to the already enormous costs caused by migrants already in Europe, such a large number of new arrivals would add billions each year.

Soros calculates it at 30 billion euros a year, but argues that it would be worth it because “there is a real threat that the refugee crisis could cause the collapse of Europe’s Schengen system of open internal borders among twenty-six European states,” which would cost the EU between 47 and 100 billion euros in GDP losses.

Soros thus sees the financing of migrants and also of non-European countries that primarily receive migrants (which he also advocates) as a win-win relationship. He calls for the introduction of a new tax for the refugee crisis in the member states, including a financial transaction tax, an increase in VAT and the establishment of refugee funds. Soros knows, however, that such measures would not be accepted in the EU countries, so he proposes a different solution, which does not require a vote in the sovereign countries.

The new EU debt should be made by the EU taking advantage of its largely unused AAA credit status and issuing long-term bonds, which would boost the European economy. The funds could come from the European Stability Mechanism and the EU balance of payments support institution.

 “Both also have very similar institutional structures, and they are both backed entirely by the EU budget—and therefore do not require national guarantees or national parliamentary approval.“

In this way, the ESM and the BoPA (Balance of Payments Assistance Facility) would become the new Mefo’s that could issue bills of exchange, perhaps even cheques for Turks, Soros NGOs. Soros calculates that both institutions have a credit capacity of 60 billion, which should only increase as Portugal, Ireland and Greece repay each year the loans they received during the euro crisis. According to Soros, the old debts should be used to finance the new ones in such a way that it officially does not burden the budget in any of the EU Member States. The financial institutions that are to carry out this debt fraud must extend (indeed – cancel) their status, as the leader of the refugees expressed such a wish in his speech.

That Soros is striving to replace the indigenous European population with new arrivals from Africa and Asia is clear to anyone who observes its activities in Europe. The question is: what does he want to do this for and who is the real ruler, behind him, the real leader?

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The French People Feel Screwed

For the first time in his presidency, Macron is in trouble and Europe and America are looking on.

The Duran

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Authored by David Brown via The Gatestone Institute:


On December 4, French Prime Minister Édouard Phillipe told deputies of the ruling party, “La République en Marche”, that a proposed fuel tax rise, which had led to the largest protests France has seen in decades, would be suspended.

The protesters, called Gilets-Jaunes — “Yellow Vests,” because of the vests drivers are obliged by the government to carry in their vehicles in the event of a roadside breakdown — say that the fuel tax was the last straw from a president who took office with a promise to help the economically left-behind but instead has favoured the rich.

Even by French standards, the protests of the “Yellow Vests” during the weekend of December 1 were startling. Burning cars and vast plumes of grey smoke seemed to engulf the Arc De Triomphe as if Paris were at war. Comparisons were drawn with the Bread Wars of the 17th Century and the spirit of the Revolution of the 18th Century.

For more than two weeks, the “Yellow Vests” disrupted France. They paralyzed highways and forced roads to close — causing shortages across the country – and blocked fuel stations from Lille in the North to Marseilles in the South.

During protests in France’s capital, Paris, the “Yellow Vests” were soon joined by a more violent element, who began torching cars, smashing windows and looting stores. 133 were injured, 412 were arrested and more than 10,000 tear gas and stun grenades were fired.

One elderly lady was killed when she was struck by a stray grenade as she tried to shutter her windows against the melee.

There was talk of imposing a State of Emergency.

The “Yellow Vests” present the most significant opposition French President Emmanuel Macron has faced since coming to office in May 2017. Unlike previous protests in France, which have divided public opinion, these have widespread support – 72% according to a Harris Interactive Poll published December 1st.

Fuel tax rises — announced in November before being retracted on December — were intended to help bring down France’s carbon emissions by curbing the use of cars. Macron makes no secret of his wish to be seen as a global leader for environmental reform.

He forgets that back at home, among the people who elected him, fuel prices really matter to those outside big cities, where four-fifths of commuters drive to work and a third of them cover more than 30km each week.

The increases have incensed people in smaller communities, where they have already seen speed limits reduced to please the Greens and cuts to the local transport services.

These additional costs-of-living increases come at an extremely bad time for ordinary French people working outside of Paris. Lower-middle class families are not poor enough to receive welfare benefits but have seen their income flat-line whilst cost-of-living and taxes have risen.

An analysis by the Institut des Politiques Publiques think-tank shows that benefits cuts and tax changes in 2018 and 2019 will leave pensioners and the bottom fifth of households worse off, while the abolition of the wealth tax means that by far the biggest gains will go to the top 1%

This is tough to swallow. Macron is seen as being out of touch with ordinary people and is unlikely to escape his new title, “the President of the Rich.”

“People have this feeling that the Paris technocrats are doing complicated things to screw them,” said Charles Wyplosz, an economics professor at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.

It is probably not as complex as that. The French people feel screwed.

As employment and growth are slowing, Macron, for the first time in his presidency, is under serious pressure. Unemployment is at 9%; his efforts to reform Europe are stalling, and his approval rating has plummeted to just 23% according to a recent opinion poll by IFOP.

Images of Macron at the Arc De Triomphe daubed in graffiti calling for him to step down, or worse, have done little to bolster his image abroad.

So far, Macron had said he would not bow to street protests. To underline his point, in September 2017, he called protestors against French labour-market reform “slackers”.

The political U-Turn on the fuel tax is a turning point for the Macron presidency. The question is : What next, both for Macron and the “Yellow Vests”?

Macron most likely needs to plough ahead with his reform agenda, and doubtless knows he has the support of a solid majority in the National Assembly to do so. France is crippled by debt (nearly 100% of GDP) and its grossly bloated public sector. There are 5.2 million civil servants in France, and their number has increased by 36% since 1983. These represent 22% of the workforce compared to an OCDE average of 15%.

Tax-expert Jean-Philippe Delsol says France has 1.5 million too many “fonctionnaires [officials]. When you consider that public spending in France now accounts for 57 per cent of gross domestic product. Soon the system will no longer function as there will be less and less people working to support more and more people working less”.

Macron’s mistake, in addition to a seeming inclination for arrogance, is not to have made national economic reform his absolute priority right from his initial grace period after his election. Lower public expenses would have made it possible to lower taxes, hence creating what economists call a virtuous circle. Instead, he waited.

Now, at a time when he is deeply unpopular and social unrest is in full sway he is looking to make further reforms in unemployment benefits, scaling them back by reducing the payments and the length of time beneficiaries can receive the money. The “President of the Rich” strikes again.

There is talk that he may also re-introduce the wealth tax to try to placate the protestors.

Macron’s presidential term lasts until May 13, 2022. Understandably, Macron will be focused on the elections to the European Parliament expected to be held May 23-26, 2019. Headlines have signalled that Marine Le Pen and the National Rally (formally National Front) are ahead in the polls at 20%, compared to Macron’s En Marche at 19%.

The shift is understandable, given the divide between the countryside, where Le Pen has solid support, and the cities, where Macron’s centre-left prevail.

In contrast, the “Yellow Vests” have galvanised support after standing up for the “impotent ordinary”, and seem much buoyed by the solidarity they have been shown by both fire fighters and the police. There are images online of police removing their helmets and firefighters turning their backs on political authority to show their support for the protestors.

Whilst Macron’s political opposition may be fragmented, this new breed of coherent public opposition is something new. Leaderless, unstructured and organised online, the “Yellow Vests” have gained support from the left and right, yet resisted subjugation by either.

Being leaderless makes them difficult to negotiate withor to reason with in private. The “Yellow Vests” seem acutely aware of this strength, given their firm rebuttal of overtures for peace talks from the Macron government.

Enjoying huge support from the public and with reforms to the social welfare system on the horizon, the “Yellow Vests” are not going away.

For the first time in his Presidency, Macron is in trouble and Europe and America are looking on.

After Macron rebuked nationalism during his speech at the armistice ceremony, Trump was quick to remind the French President of his low approval rating and unemployment rate near 10%. A stinging broadside from Trump on twitter suggests that Macron may well be relegated to Trump’s list of global “Losers“:

“Emmanuel Macron suggests building its own army to protect Europe against the U.S., China and Russia. But it was Germany in World Wars One & Two – How did that work out for France? They were starting to learn German in Paris before the U.S. came along. Pay for NATO or not!”

The “impotent ordinary” in the United Kingdom, who might feel betrayed over Brexit, and the nationalists in Germany, who have suffered under Merkel , are no doubt staring in wonder at the “Yellow Vests”, wishing for the same moxie.

The historian Thomas Carlyle, chronicler of the French Revolution, said the French were unrivaled practitioners in the “art of insurrection”, and characterised the French mob as the “liveliest phenomena of our world”.

Mobs in other countries, by comparison, he argued were “dull masses” lacking audacity and inventiveness. The blazing yellow vests of the French protest movement , however, have made Macron appear increasingly dull and weak too.

David Brown is based in the United Kingdom.

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