The Movie Dunkirk is gripping- excellent- homework. by David Lindsay

Kathleen Schomaker and I went to see the movie Dunkirk, because after some research I discovered that it got a score of 94 at, and got some rave reviews, and it was not criticized for tampering with the history.

It was criticized for not saying more about the heroism of the French, who held the perimeter, keeping the Germans at bay for the 8 needed days, or the 2.5 million Indian soldiers that were in that British army, but, we thought the the film was excellent. It wasn’t fun, but gripping, and exhilarating. Not to be missed by anyone who loves small luxury yatchs. Think of it as valuable, unpleasant homework.

Macron’s Shaky Embrace of de Gaulle – by Robert Zaretski – NYT

“General de Villiers told the French media that Mr. Macron had promised he would fulfill his campaign pledge to increase military spending to 2 percent of G.D.P. from around 1.78 percent. And Mr. Macron has seemed sympathetic, making several visits with military personnel during his first days in office.”

This is strange, since France has agreed to pay 3% of its gdp for military as part of NATO.  This is one of Trump’s major complaints about the Europeans.

Mr. Macron Starts Making Waves – The New York Times

“Surprisingly, for France, the first of what promises to be a tough series of domestic confrontations was with the military, which is traditionally quiet in public. Facing budget cuts equivalent to nearly $1 billion, the top general of the French armed forces, Pierre de Villiers, used an unprintable epithet before a parliamentary committee and quit. Mr. Macron promptly struck back at a military garden party, telling the generals, “I am the boss.” “

In French Labor Overhaul- Union Leader Offers a Way to a Compromise – The New York Times

“PARIS — As thousands of workers last summer protested changes to France’s labor laws, Laurent Berger, the head of one of the country’s most influential unions, got an unsettling call.

Around 100 protesters had split from a rally and surrounded the headquarters of his union, the French Democratic Confederation of Labor, shouting and smashing windows. Scrawled near the entrance was a warning in red paint: “This treason must end!”

The “treason” referred to a contentious decision by Mr. Berger to support revisions to France’s 3,400-page labor code — a rarity in a country known for stark divisions between union leaders and government officials. Some of the changes would relax rules around the cherished 35-hour workweek, which Mr. Berger saw as a way to encourage companies to hire.”

Allez Allez Macron!

A New Yalta and the Revival of Europe – by Roger Cohen – NYT

“. . . . Merkel is the favorite to win the German election in September. A Macron-Merkel duo could be formidable. They will have to deliver in several areas if Europe is to seize this moment. The first is security: the European Union needs effective external borders. The second is fiscal: the euro in the long run can only function with fiscal consolidation. The third is growth: Europe is already stirring from stagnation but needs to create more jobs, and for that Macron’s planned labor-market reforms will be important. The fourth is solidarity: the free ride of countries like Hungary and Poland that benefit from vast European Union financial transfers but flout European values through their growing autocratic tendencies must be stopped. It’s simple: no free money without a free press and an independent judiciary.

Macron and Merkel are both passionate Europeans (as is the Social Democratic contender in Germany, Martin Schulz). Putin’s threats, Trump’s valueless American foreign policy, and Britain’s small-mindedness — alongside an economic recovery that is gathering steam — have created a unique opportunity to rekindle the dream of a federalizing Europe. It could be that 2017 will be the year of Europe.”

Bravo et Salut, Roger Cohen!

As France’s Towns Wither, Fears of a Decline in ‘Frenchness’ – The New York Times

“…….My last interview before leaving town was with Eric Lamarre. Last year, he closed Albi’s last toy store. “Twenty years ago, the center of town was still animated,” he said. “People really came to town to buy. There were loads of lovely things. It buzzed with people.”The big shopping center opened in 2009, and his business declined until the end, when he was losing 50,000 euros (about $53,000) a year.“It’s a political problem,” he said. “These towns have been had. They always say yes to the shopping center developers.”Albi, he said, “is still a magnificent city — for the tourists.” ”

I just spent three weeks in France Italy and Bosnia last summer. This story of decline is deplorable. This town allowed the mall and the hyper stores to be built on their outskirts, without perhaps understanding the true cost?

Keeping the Kremlin’s Hands Off France’s Elections – The New York Times

“Facebook and Google, widely criticized for their role in the spread of fake news during the American presidential campaign, are also taking steps to guard against a repeat in France’s election. Facebook is working with multiple French news outlets to fact-check stories. On Feb. 6, Google announced CrossCheck, a collaborative project with major French media outlets aimed at identifying and fact-checking questionable content with “the French presidential election as its primary focus.”

France is wise to take steps now, though it is too early to know whether they will have much effect. Mr. Ayrault was absolutely right, however, when he stated on Wednesday what should be obvious to all democratic governments: “After what happened in the United States, it is our responsibility to take all measures to ensure that the integrity of our democratic process is respected.” At stake, he said, is “our democracy, our sovereignty and our national independence.” “

Will France Sound the Death Knell for Social Democracy? – The New York Times

“One afternoon in September, Franck Sailliot marched through the northern French city of Lille alongside a couple of thousand leftist trade unionists and students. The marchers waved union flags, blew whistles, bellowed slogans. “Enough, enough, enough of this society, where there’s only unemployment and insecurity!” they yelled. “We don’t want the law of the bosses! The only solution is to revoke it!” Sailliot, a 48-year-old trade unionist who had worked much of his adult life in a paper mill in a town about an hour’s drive to the east, shuffled along, mostly silent, his hands in his pockets. As the demonstrators made their way through Lille’s town center, passing the ornate 17th-century stock exchange, they shouted, “Fire the stockholders!” and “Everything they have, they stole it!” One man wielded a bloodied, severed mannequin head and waved a French flag emblazoned with the silhouette of Robespierre, who presided over the Reign of Terror. It was a revolution of sorts, but Sailliot seemed a bit bored. The French left has long protested the encroachment of an unbridled free market, and despite some victories in halting its progress, the overall trend was one of demoralizing defeat. Sailliot debated peeling off from the crowd early and grabbing a beer.”