Macron escalates war of words with Trump as he faces a huge popular protest this weekend
France’s president Emmanuel Macron has got more to be worried about than his disastrous lack of public support in polling. He is facing a grass roots spontaneous, massive disruption of French highways this weekend, and he sounds a bit scared. Consider what is brewing for the weekend in France. I have found no coverage in American media. From France Bleu, via Google Translate:
Collective of citizens have called for demonstrating and blocking roads this Saturday, November 17 everywhere in France against rising fuel prices. What are the places blocked by yellow vests? Where are the disturbances planned?
Here is map of the planned blockages (so far) (hat tip: L. Gardy LaRoche)
The movement has adopted the name “yellow vests,” wearing the fluorescent safety vests worn for protection against road accidents, and using social media to organize. One Facebook page features this picture of a crows of yellow vested protesters.
The fact that this movement is entirely spontaneous is the scariest aspect for Macron and the entire French establishment. High taxes on fuel make it far more expensive than the prices Americans complain about:
Spontaneous, protean and unframed, the elusive movement of "yellow vests" worries the executive, who has already warned against blocking roads Saturday . On the other hand, this movement destabilizes the parties that are trying to position themselves, at the risk of accusations of recovery.
The magnitude of the movement remains difficult to predict. Will it coagulate the discontent accumulated around purchasing power in general? At the beginning of November, 78% of French people said they were supporting the mobilization against rising fuel prices, according to an Odoxa-Dentsu survey conducted for franceinfo and Le Figaro.
That may well be why Macron has just escalated his rhetoric against President Trump by invoking a term from feudalism, as Reuters reports:
President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday told Donald Trump that France was the United States' ally and not a vassal state after the U.S. president attacked him in a series of tweets that demonstrated how much their relationship had soured. (snip)
Asked in an interview on the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier whether he was offended by Trump's tweets, Macron talked at length about the long military alliance between the two countries, from America's War of Independence onward.
"At every moment of our history, we were allies, so between allies, respect is due," Macron told TF1 television.
As Paul Bonicelli noted in the Federalist:
…when you are a former world leader and now only a middling power, and not very economically strong at that, and you have an overweening desire to lead other countries, you have to do something.
So you take on what you say is the world’s problem child (“hyperpower” is the usual French derogatory term), led by a man you say evokes the specter of dangerous nationalism, and hope for the best
Macron’s frame of reference is seriously out of date, and not just on feudalism. Mark Thiessen pointed out I the Washington Post (non-paywall version)
American conservatives have always been nationalists, but while European nationalism is based on “blood and soil,” ours is a creedal nationalism built on an idea — the idea of human freedom. That is why America can make the audacious claim that we are an “exceptional” nation. While a family of immigrants can live in France for generations and still not be accepted as “French,” when immigrants jump into the Great American Melting Pot they become indistinguishable from any other American within a generation. European nationalism is inherently exclusive; American nationalism is inherently inclusive. And there are millions across the world who are already Americans in their hearts, even though they have not arrived here yet.
It is more pleasant for Macron to pick a fight with Trump than confront his angry citizenry.