Macron Encounters the Wrath of the French People

Backlash protests against Macron’s globalist policies.

French President Emmanuel Macron is learning the perils of defying the will of his own people to serve a globalist agenda. The French president has made it his mission to lead the globalist assault on fossil fuels to stem further increases in man-made greenhouse emissions. He vowed to “make our planet great again,” after sharply criticizing President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. After convening the first One Planet Summit in Paris in late 2017 and continuing to lecture the world about the need for drastic actions to combat climate change, President Macron showed he was willing to use his own people as sacrificial lambs. He proposed steep fuel-tax increases to take effect this January, with more to come in subsequent years. The purpose was to raise the price of carbon use in France. The French people rose up in protest at a level not seen since the 1960’s. The yellow vest became the symbol of what began as protests by French drivers against higher diesel fuel prices. The protests, at times accompanied by violence, expanded to vent the grievances of ordinary people feeling squeezed by President Macron’s economic agenda. At first, President Macron would not budge. However, as the street protests in Paris and other parts of France showed no signs of abating, the Macron administration decided Tuesday to suspend the planned fuel tax increases for at least 6 months. France’s Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, not the aloof President Macron, announced the suspension decision. “No tax is worth jeopardizing the unity of the nation,” Prime Minister Philippe said in explaining the government’s decision.

President Trump had acted on the belief that the Paris Agreement on Climate Change represented a windfall to many other countries to the detriment of American workers. President Macron, on the other hand, remained oblivious to the economic plight of his own people, who have been plagued by an overall jobless rate of 8.9%. The unemployment rate for French youth (ages 15–24) has been reported to be as high 24.6 percent.

It is worth noting that Prime Minister Philippe, not President Macron, used the phrase “the unity of the nation” in announcing the suspension decision. That’s likely because Mr. Macron sees himself more as a global citizen than as a citizen of the country he was elected to lead. Unity of the world to address climate change is more important to him than preserving the unity of the French nation by focusing primarily on the economic needs of the French people.

The French president showed his disdain for nationalism in remarks he delivered during a gathering in Paris of world leaders, including President Trump, to observe 100 years since the end of World War I. In a line that only a globalist could mouth, President Macron exclaimed, “Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism.” Mr. Macron thought he was being clever with his veiled attack on President Trump’s “America First” policies. However, President Trump is having the last laugh. President Trump’s approval rating stands at approximately 46 percent currently. President Macron’s approval rating has fallen to 23 percent. The French people, who are suffering under President Macron’s globalist stewardship, presumably prefer a “France First” president.

Mr. Macron repeats the same globalist tripe that we heard for eight years from former President Barack Obama and one that we hear all the time at the United Nations. It is based on the false premise of multilateralism for its own sake. Globalists make the red herring argument that the only alternative to multilateralism as they define it is what Mr. Macron in his speech to the UN General Assembly last September described as a unilateralist “survival-of-the-fittest approach.” The real choice, however, is between manic multilateralism that globalists believe in, versus rational multilateralism that respects national sovereignty.

Manic multilateralism is an uncritical deference to global norms and consensus, irrespective of the consequences. The late Charles Krauthammer described its ultimate purpose:  to “reduce American freedom of action by making it subservient to, dependent on, constricted by the will–and interests–of other nations. To tie down Gulliver with a thousand strings… the slavish pursuit of ‘international legitimacy’ – and opposition to any American action undertaken without universal foreign blessing.”

Rational multilateralism, on the other hand, strives for cooperation among sovereign nations to address issues of common concern. It seeks to promote possible practical solutions to manageable problems transcending national boundaries that are fair to all concerned. The United States remains among the most dedicated multilateralist countries in the world. Americans generally support international cooperation when effective in fighting a common threat such as global terrorism. The United States has contributed more than any other member state to the United Nations (including its specialized agencies and peacekeeping operations) to keep it in business. We work through NATO in Europe, the Organization of American States in Latin America, and U.S. alliances with Asian countries. We actively support the work of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and legions of multilateral relief agencies. None of that has fundamentally changed under President Trump. What has changed, however, is that President Trump will not tolerate funding arrangements that unfairly burden American taxpayers. He also refuses to go along with UN-endorsed agreements not ratified by the U.S. Senate that he deems to be contrary to the best interests and security of the American people. As President Trump explained in his speech to the UN General Assembly on September 25, 2018, “America will always choose independence and cooperation over global governance, control, and domination.”

Globalists reject the primacy of national sovereignty. They believe, for example, that by reflecting some sort of international “consensus” in resolutions and other “official” documents the United Nations has conferred special moral, political and even legal legitimacy on the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. They argue that the Trump administration cannot disavow these agreements without threatening to destroy the whole so-called “rules-based international order.”  Nonsense. President Trump saw through the fundamental flaws in both agreements, neither of which are legally binding treaties ratified by the U.S. Senate. He properly decided to act in the interests of the people who elected him.

The Iran nuclear deal provided a cash windfall to the dictatorial Iranian regime, which its leaders are using to fund their ballistic missile program and to fund terrorism. Obama’s deal kicked the Iran nuclear can down the road by not stopping altogether the regime’s ability to develop nuclear weapons and the capability to deliver them. The Paris climate agreement allowed China, the largest emitter of greenhouse gasses, to do virtually nothing of consequence to reverse the growth of its emissions until 2030. At the same time, Obama pledged further rapid cuts in U.S. emissions with job-destroying new regulations. He also agreed to a redistributionist funding scheme that would have picked American taxpayers’ pockets to the tune of billions of dollars a year starting in 2020. The fact that other nations’ leaders are either too stupid to heed President Trump’s warnings, or have too much a stake in selfishly reaping economic gains for their own countries, does not mean that President Trump must accede to their wishes.

President Trump by word and deed has laid out a vision that lauds international cooperation where warranted but under which he “will never surrender America’s sovereignty to an unelected, unaccountable, global bureaucracy.”  President Macron, in his own speech to the UN General Assembly last September, claimed that he does not believe “in one great globalized people.” He believes deeply, he said, “in the sovereignty of peoples.” Note that he uses the expression “sovereignty of peoples” rather than “national sovereignty.” He said in the same speech that “in no way will I yield the principle of the sovereignty of peoples to nationalists.” The French people rioting in the streets of France against President Macron’s proposed globalist fuel tax increases want a more nationalist president who shows true concern for their well-being as French nationals. Mr. Macron should start taking a lesson from Mr. Trump’s playbook if he wants to remain president of the sovereign French nation.