Macron’s 2018 olive branch and Assad’s 2011 olive branch
Yesterday, a feeble looking French President made an address to his nation after over four weeks of protests, demonstrations and riots from a de-centralised opposition/agitation group known as the Yellow Vests. In his speech, President Macon offered the public concessions on top of the full cancellation of the fuel tax that initially spawned the Yellow Vests. Among the further concessions Macron made was a promise to raise the minimum wage by €100 beginning in spring of next year, while he also agreed to cut a deeply unpopular tax increase that would have hit the poorest pensioners in France. Finally, Macron stated that he would push for measures to allow for workers to have tax-free overtime hours.
The delivery of Macron’s speech felt deeply forced and it was clear enough that he was making his speech from a position of desperation rather than one of strength. In many ways, Macron’s speech was reminiscent of something that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad did during the first months of what grew into the present Syria conflict.
In May of 2011, Bashar al-Assad declared a general amnesty for certain prisoners and outlawed opposition groups. As Syrian media reported at the time:
“President Assad grants a general pardon for the crimes committed before 31 May. The pardon includes all those who belong to political movements, including the Muslim Brotherhood”.
But for the opposition forces in Syria, this offer was considered “too little – too late” while the appearance of further agitators on the streets of France in the twenty-four hour period since Macron made his address indicates that the French opposition forces feel much the same today. While the opposition in France are not as heavily armed as those in Syria, the US President has already voiced his support for the Yellow Vests while the French government, like the Syrian government before it has condemned the intervention of a US leader on behalf of renegade opposition forces.
What this means is that like Bashar al-Assad, Macron will likely not fall from power due to extra-legal means while it likely will not take foreign military intervention to keep Macron in power as was the case in respect of Assad. But what both cases prove is that due to the unleashing of fairly standardised hybrid war tactics as illustrated by geopolitical expert Andrew Korybko, it will be difficult for Macron to rapidly put the opposition genie back in the bottle.
A case of hypocrisy
While many have been quick to point out that it is somewhat amusing that the President of a nation that supported a weaponised “opposition” in Libya, Ukraine and Syria is now himself being held hostage to similar forces using very similar methods, what is less discussed is the hypocrisy among those commenting on the Yellow Vests in France. Many of the same voices that opposed the illegal overthrow of the Yugoslav government in 1999, the Iraqi government in 2003, the Libyan government in 2011, the Ukrainian government in 2014 and the continued attempts to overthrow the UN recognised Syrian government, somehow cannot bring themselves to defend Emmanuel Macron’s legal right to rule his nation free of chaos, disorder and the threat of hybrid war driven regime change.
This clearly demonstrates that while many supporters of nations from the wider global east and south wrapped themselves in the pages of international law when defending the aforementioned governments – they did so form a perspective of partisanship rather than from a position of holding a genuine affinity for international law. In other words, when it suited the mob, they masqueraded as legitimate political commentators with a keen devotion to international law, but when one of their ideological enemies started being targeted by similar rambunctious forces, it was all of the sudden perfectly acceptable to threaten the French President with a guillotine as some of the Yellow Vests have done.
People are of course entitled to their views and are furthermore entitled to their hypocrisy. However, what they are not entitled to is self-righteousness although there is plenty filling the toxic social media atmosphere at the moment.
There is foreign meddling in France – it is from the United States
While the academia-industrial complex that supported Barack Obama and in many cases filled important cabinet positions in his administration helped to amplify Obama’s support for illegal regime change in Libya, Ukraine and Syria, it cannot be ignored that Donald Trump and some of his most vocal supporters including the media outlet Infowars are cheering on the Yellow Vests in the same method. While the US isn’t arming the Yellow Vests, it cannot be discounted that generally pro-Trump elements of the Bannonite movement that has long tried to weaponize agitation in Europe may be playing a role in helping to foment the chaos in France just as the American intelligence agencies are guilty of doing the same in Ukraine, Libya and Syria.
When taken in totality, it therefore can be said that the US administration, its supporters and its professional agitators are meddling in domestic French affairs in a manner far more cohesive than that which Russia allegedly did in the US election of 2016, though one which is less dramatic than that which the US did in Libya, Ukraine and Syria in the Obama years. Still though, the fact remains that a sovereign government is under assault from a foreign power and Paris has every right to admonish Washington (as Paris indeed has done) as does any other sovereign nation that the US interferes with.
While the Russian government has stayed well clear of the events in France in spite of programmatic conjuncture to the contrary, many non-Russians who form the core of the wider so-called “pro-Russian social media sphere” have made abject fools of themselves by betraying their own previous statements and alleged principles regarding their support for the sovereignty of nations as defined by international law.
One does not need to like Emmanuel Macron (as fewer and fewer people do) to understand that while his Presidency may be a failure, joining up with Donald Trump, Infowars and a possibly a shady Bannonite hand makes one the equal and opposite version of what Samantha Power, Hillary Clinton, the CIA, CNN and the BBC did in respect of cheering on Obama’s meddling in Libya, Ukraine and Syria.