The serious economic/political problems now afflicting France and, to a lesser degree, Germany, are likely to have important naval consequences—and also have interesting implications for U.S. economic and social policy.
The French economy clearly has been ill for quite some time, with an apparently intractable 10% to 13% unemployment rate. Strikes began when the Prime Minister, Alain Juppe, announced a series of budget cuts affecting the most unionized of all French workers—those in the public sector. Widespread French support for the strikers suggests that the strikes are a manifestation of more deeply felt resentments.
Also, the French economy is top-heavy with government and with government-owned entities, many of which lose money but cannot easily be eliminated; the U.S. Congress has no corner on pork. The first intimation of a French disaster may have been a speech about a month before the onset of the strikes, in which the Minister of Defense announced that some of the worst of the government-owned defense contractors, such as GIAT, the gun-maker, might disappear altogether. Others would have to contract dramatically.