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Russian diplomacy is winning the New Cold War

By Stephen F. Cohen | The Nation | November 22, 2018

Washington’s attempt to “isolate Putin’s Russia” has failed and had the opposite effect.

On the fifth anniversary of the onset of the Ukrainian crisis, in November 2013, and of Washington “punishing” Russia by attempting to “isolate” it in world affairs — a policy first declared by President Barack Obama in 2014 and continued ever since, primarily through economic sanctions — Cohen discusses the following points:

1. During the preceding Cold War with the Soviet Union, no attempt was made to “isolate” Russia abroad; instead, the goal was to “contain” it within its “bloc” of Eastern European nations and compete with it in what was called the “Third World.”

2. The notion of “isolating” a country of Russia’s size, Eurasian location, resources, and long history as a great power is vainglorious folly. It reflects the paucity and poverty of foreign thinking in Washington in recent decades, not the least in the US Congress and mainstream media.

3. Consider the actual results. Russia is hardly isolated. Since 2014, Moscow has arguably been the most active diplomatic capital of all great powers today. It has forged expanding military, political, or economic partnerships with, for example, China, Iran, Turkey, Syria, Saudi Arabia, India, and several other East Asian nations, even, despite EU sanctions, with several European governments. Still more, Moscow is the architect and prime convener of three important peace negotiations under way today: those involving Syria, Serbia-Kosovo, and even Afghanistan. Put differently, can any other national leaders in the 21st century match the diplomatic records of Russian President Vladimir Putin or of his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov? Certainly not former US Presidents George W. Bush or Obama or soon-to-depart German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Nor any British or French leader.

4. Much is made of Putin’s purportedly malign “nationalism” in this regard. But this is an uninformed or hypocritical explanation. Consider French President Emmanuel Macron, who recently reproached Trump for his declared nationalism. The same Macron who has sought to suggest (rather implausibly) that he is a second coming of Charles de Gaulle, who himself was a great and professed nationalist leader of the 20th century, from his resistance to the Nazi occupation and founding of the Fifth Republic to his refusal to put the French military under NATO command. Nationalism, that is, by whatever name, has long been a major political force in most countries, whether in liberal enlightened or reactionary right-wing forms. Russia and the United States are not exceptions.

5. Putin’s success in restoring Russia’s role in world affairs is usually ascribed to his “aggressive” policies, but it is better understood as a realization of what is characterized in Moscow as the “philosophy of Russian foreign policy” since Putin became leader in 2000. It has three professed tenets. The first goal of foreign policy is to protect Russia’s “sovereignty,” which is said to have been lost in the disastrous post-Soviet 1990s. The second is a kind of Russia-first nationalism or patriotism: to enhance the well-being of the citizens of the Russian Federation. The third is ecumenical: to partner with any government that wants to partner with Russia. This “philosophy” is, of course, non- or un-Soviet, which was heavily ideological, at least in its professed ideology and goals.

6. Considering Washington’s inability to “isolate Russia,” considering Russia’s diplomatic successes in recent years, and considering the bitter fruits of US militarized and regime-change foreign policies (which long pre-date President Trump), perhaps it’s time for Washington to learn from Moscow rather than demand that Moscow conform to Washington’s thinking about—and behavior in—world affairs. If not, Washington is more likely to continue to isolate itself.

John Bachelor Show

Stephen F. Cohen is a professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at New York University and Princeton University and a contributing editor of The Nation.

November 22, 2018 Posted by | Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Syrian Air Defenses respond to ‘missile attack’ on airbase in Homs – state media

RT | April 9, 2018

A military airport in Homs province has been targeted in a “missile attack,” SANA reports. Although Syrian air defense systems allegedly intercepted at least eight projectiles, several people were reportedly injured and killed.

Several missiles were launched at Syria’s T-4 air base in the east of Homs province, SANA reports, citing a military source. According to the agency, the attack has “probably” been carried out by the United States.

There are several “martyrs and wounded” as a result of the strike, SANA added, without specifying the number of casualties.

While the US Defense Department is “aware” of reports of an alleged missile strike, it has dismissed reports of any US involvement.

“At this time, the Department of Defense is not conducting air strikes in Syria,” the Pentagon told Reuters in a statement. “However, we continue to closely watch the situation and support the ongoing diplomatic efforts to hold those who use chemical weapons, in Syria and otherwise, accountable.”

According to Lebanon’s Al Mayadeen broadcaster, the missiles were coming from the Mediterranean Sea, through Lebanese airspace. Meanwhile, Al Masdar News is reporting that “unknown jets” have entered Syrian airspace from Lebanon, and is speculating that the jets could be Israeli. In response, the Syrian Air Defense system at Mezzeh Air Base was activated, the report added.

Almost precisely a year ago, on April 7, 2017, the US carried out a strike against Syria’s Shayrat Airbase, launching a volley of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles from the Mediterranean Sea. Back then, Washington justified the attack as a necessary response in the wake of reports of a deadly chemical attack in Idlib province, without waiting any on any investigation into the incident.

The latest news comes as Damascus faces fresh accusations of allegedly targeting civilians in a chlorine attack, which were put forward by the controversial White Helmets group, which is always to the fore in Western media coverage of the Syrian conflict.

Damascus, meanwhile, has denied the accusations, while the Russian Foreign Ministry denounced the latest reports as another example of a “continuous series of fake news about the use of chlorine and other chemical agents by the government forces.”

Amid escalating tensions, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the US Central Command (CENTCOM), have allegedly been compiling lists of potential targets and attack options to present to Trump and his national security team, senior US military officials told Israel’s i24NEWS.

Israeli officials had, throughout Sunday, advocated striking targets in Syria, calling on Washington to retaliate against Damascus in response to the alleged Douma chemical attack. The charge was led by the Israeli Strategic Affairs and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who told the Army Radio on Sunday that he personally hopes that the US would take military action against the Syrian government. Among an array of politicians, Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog also called on the US to take “decisive military action” against Syria. The idea of Israel’s intervention in Syria was also supported by the Israeli Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, who urged his followers “to try and stop this massacre.”

Donald Trump’s fury, meanwhile, focused on Damascus and the Syrian president Bashar Assad, whom the US president called an “animal.” The US leader also lashed out against Iran and Russia for supporting Assad, saying there is a “big price” to pay for the latest chemical attack.

Trump has already held talks with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, after which both leaders decided to form a united front against Russia at the upcoming United Nations Security Council meetings, planned for Monday. Macron previously indicated that France might consider unilateral actions, including a military strike if chemical weapons were ever used in Syria again.

April 8, 2018 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Welcome to another Western edition of anti-Assad political theater, now in Ghouta

By Robert Bridge | RT | March 2, 2018

Western media is heaping scorn on Syria for using ‘excessive force’ in its effort to liberate Ghouta from militant control. But where was that same concern when Mosul was being pulverized by US-led forces?

The Syrian government’s liberation efforts in the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta have deteriorated into a media circus where truth has taken a back seat in the clown car. As was the case in the liberation of Aleppo, the government of President Bashar Assad – as opposed to the militant groups wreaking havoc in his country – has borne the main brunt of criticism from the Western world.

Due to the conditions on the ground in Ghouta, it is virtually impossible to get a clear picture of the situation there. What we do know, however, is that Damascus is being hit by approximately 70 missiles daily from militant positions inside Ghouta. The Western media would rather ignore that fact, speculating instead that “more than 500 people” have been killed by the Assad “regime” since efforts to retake the city began last month.

So where does the Western media get its information? In the majority of cases, from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a one-man operation based out of a humble abode in Coventry, UK. Western reporters also rely on the so-called White Helmets, the very same ‘humanitarian’ group that is suspected of working in tandem with terrorist groups that are carrying out attacks on civilians. Based on these extremely dubious sources, and others, one of the UK’s most respectable newspapers, the Guardian, was bold enough to assert that “Eastern Ghouta is turning into Syria’s Srebrenica.”

“Like the Bosnian Muslim enclave in 1995, eastern Ghouta … has been besieged by regime forces since the early stages of the Syrian war,” Simon Tisdall wrote. “As in Bosnia, nobody attempted to protect the civilian population when a regime offensive began there in December after negotiations failed. The airstrikes and bombardments… are carried out with impunity by Syrian forces and their Russian backers.”

I read that article twice in the hope of finding any mention of the militant forces that have been occupying Eastern Ghouta off and on since late 2012, subjecting the local population to untold horrors, including the threat of chemical attack. Regrettably, I failed; not a single mention of the terrorists. Indeed, to read Tisdall’s article one gets the impression that the citizens of Ghouta are perfectly content with the occupation of their city by fanatical militants.

Examples of such biased attitudes towards the Syrian government have, at the same time, overtaken the social media jungle like the invasive kudzu vine, blocking out the light of truth.

This week, for example, a US-based user who goes by the name of Sami Sharbek posted two photos on his Twitter account – one showing a building consumed by an explosion; the other depicting a man carrying a crying child.

“This is not a movie. This is Syria,” he wrote in the caption.

Sharbek was only 50 percent right.

Although the photos were not taken from a Hollywood blockbuster film, they did feature horrific images from Gaza and Mosul, respectively. In other words, very far from the action in Ghouta. Although Sharbek later admitted to his error, the damage was already done. As of February 28, the Tweet had made a huge impression, generating over 125,000 shares and 154,000 likes (the account is now blocked, open only to “approved followers”), possibly reaching millions of users.  It is probably safe to say that very few of those same people will hear that Sharbek’s tweet was for all intents and purposes fake news.

Smoke rises from the Tuffah neighborhood after an Israeli airstrike in eastern Gaza City, July 29, 2014 © Sameh Rahmi / Global Look Press

On February 25, Danny Gold, a writer and correspondent, compared the situation in Ghouta to one of history’s worst human atrocities when he tweeted: “I know how Jews who lived through the holocaust felt 70 years later about the world turning a blind eye, can’t imagine how Syrians in Ghouta will feel about their suffering being so well-documented as it’s happening yet doubted by so many.”

Dan Cohen, a correspondent with RT America, responded to Gold: “Ghouta is like the Holocaust but Mosul was ‘a huge journalism event’ in which US-led forces took ‘much care’ in burying at least 3,200 civilians in the rubble.”

Cohen’s comment was a jibe at a tweet Gold had sent on February 1, 2017 in which he embellished the historical record of the US-led Iraqi campaign, remarking: “Mosul was a huge journalism event. Everyone who covers the Middle East was there.”

But if Mosul really was one big happy media confab, then how was it possible for the fatality figures to have been so skewed? As AP rather belatedly reported in December 2017, long after the nine-month conflict had ended, “The price Mosul’s residents paid in blood to see their city freed was between 9,000 and 11,000 dead … a civilian casualty rate nearly 10 times higher than what has been previously reported.”

Perhaps if Western reporters had not spent so much of their time reporting on the same type of military operation in Aleppo, which was then the focus of a Russian-backed liberation campaign, they may have more accurately described the situation in Iraq’s second-largest city.

Michael Raddie, co-editor of BSNews, provided a convincing explanation for the discrepancy in the way the Western media reports on war zones, which he said can be reduced to a matter of “worthy victims” and “unworthy victims.”

“The victims of US bombs and British airstrikes are not worthy because we don’t do that kind of thing,” Raddie told RT. “Our killing of civilians is a mistake, collateral damage. The Syrian air force killing of civilians … that is atrocities. And that is the ideology that Western media portray all the time.”

However, there is another side to this wave of Western cynicism with regards to Syria that could spark a real catastrophe. That involves the threat of a chemical strike, which the West seems to believe is something only the “Assad regime” is capable of committing. After all, who would ever suspect bona-fide terrorists deprived of modern weapons of resorting to such barbaric means of warfare?

Much like Barack Obama’s utterly reckless “red line” warning regarding the use of chemical weapons, which he said would warrant US military action, French President Emmanuel Macron issued the very same foolish warning on February 14.

“On chemical weapons, I set a red line and I reaffirm that red line,” Macron told reporters. “If we have proven evidence that chemical weapons proscribed in treaties are used, we will strike the place where they are made.”

Did it surprise anyone that less than two weeks after Macron’s warning a chemical attack – conveniently supported by photos provided by, yes, the White Helmets – was reported to have occurred in Ghouta? Western media and politicians have actually suggested a Russian connection to the event.

“Whoever conducted the attacks, Russia ultimately bears responsibility for the victims in Eastern Ghouta and countless other Syrians targeted with chemical weapons since Russia became involved in Syria,” US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.

Presently, a 30-day ceasefire endorsed by the UN Security Council is in effect across Syria, as well as a daily five-hour “humanitarian pause” in Eastern Ghouta enforced by Russia.

Yet thus far the plan is not producing the desired effect. Militants are preventing civilians from fleeing besieged Eastern Ghouta and are sabotaging the humanitarian operation there, Major General Vladimir Zolotukhin, a spokesman for the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria, told journalists on Thursday.

Robert Bridge is an American writer and journalist. He is author of the book, ‘Midnight in the American Empire,’ released in 2013. robertvbridge@yahoo.com

@Robert_Bridge

Read more:

Activist ‘raising awareness’ for Syria on Twitter used photos from Gaza & Mosul

March 3, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | 2 Comments

France’s Macron Covers for Saudi Aggression

By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation | 20.11.2017

France’s invitation to beleaguered Lebanese premier Saad Hariri for him and his family to spend “a few days in Paris” has been viewed as French President Emmanuel Macron stepping in with deft soft power to resolve tensions between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon.

Less charitably, what Macron is really doing is giving cynical cover to the Saudi rulers for their extraordinary acts of aggression towards Lebanon and their violation of that country’s sovereignty.

Two of Hariri’s children were left in Saudi capital Riyadh while he visited France over the weekend. Were they being used as hostages by the Saudis to ensure that Hariri maintains the Saudi spin on events? Certainly, the arrangement raises suspicions, but the French president sought instead to affect a “normal” nothing-is-unusual appearance.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun last week publicly accused Saudi Arabia of holding Hariri in Riyadh against his will. Aoun said the Saudi rulers were violating international law by detaining Hariri and forcing his resignation as prime minister of Lebanon. Such acts were tantamount to aggression, said President Aoun.

Yet Macron has said nothing about Saudi interference. He has instead turned reality on its head by censuring Iran for regional “aggression” and thereby backing Saudi claims that Iran is supplying ballistic missiles to Yemen. Iran swiftly condemned Macron for “stoking regional tensions”.

Credit goes to President Aoun for speaking out plainly, telling it like it is and expressing what many Lebanese citizens and many other observers around the world have concluded. The whole debacle is an outrageous affront to Lebanon and international law by the Saudi rulers, when it is taken into consideration Hariri’s hasty summoning to Saudi capital Riyadh earlier this month, his subsequent televised resignation speech on Saudi TV, and his long-delayed sojourn in that country. What is even more despicable is that the Saudi interference in the sovereign affairs of Lebanon is threatening to re-ignite a civil war within the small Mediterranean country, and, possibly worse, a war across the region with Iran.

Hariri has claimed in a later media interview, held in Saudi Arabia, and in reported communications with family and friends who are back in Lebanon that he was not under duress while staying in Saudi Arabia. That claim beggars belief given the bizarre circumstances of Hariri’s sudden departure and his protracted nearly two-week stay in Saudi Arabia.

In any case, the president of Lebanon, Michel Aoun, has concluded that something is badly amiss in the saga, and he has explicitly accused Saudi rulers of violating his country’s sovereignty.

Therefore, if there were any principle or adherence to international law, the actions of Saudi Arabia should be condemned categorically by the international community, the UN, the European Union and France in particular owing to its historic relations with Lebanon as the former colonial power before independence in 1943.

But no. What we have instead are either shameful silence from Washington, or mealy-mouthed statements from the EU. The EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini issued a vague statement warning against “foreign interference” in the affairs of Lebanon. What kind of cowardly circumlocution is that?

Lebanon’s prime minister Saad Hariri was, in effect, detained by Saudi Arabia and forced to tender his resignation from public office as a matter of ultimatum. It has been reliably reported that the Wahhabi Saudi rulers were exasperated with the Shia group Hezbollah being part of the coalition government in Beirut. Hariri is a Saudi-sponsored Sunni politician who is antagonistic to Hezbollah and by extension, Iran. But apparently, he was not sufficiently hostile, in the view of his Saudi backers. Hence, Hariri was summoned to Riyadh and ordered to resign on November 4. (The defeat of the Saudi-sponsored covert terror war in Syria no doubt was a factor too in the timing.)

France’s President Macron is playing a particularly slippery game of pandering and expedience towards the Saudi despots.

As the Washington Post’s WorldView briefing reported last week: “French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters that it was important to dispel the implication that Hariri was a Saudi prisoner.”

The newspaper goes on to quote Macron saying rather vacuously: “We need to have leaders who are free to express themselves. It’s important that [Hariri] is able to advance the political process in his country in the coming days and weeks.”

The question should be asked: why is it important for Macron to “dispel the implication that Hariri was a Saudi prisoner”?

From virtually all accounts, including that of Lebanese President Michel Aoun whose view should surely be paramount here, that is exactly what Hariri was made by the Saudis – a prisoner.

Three days before his summoning to Riyadh and his scripted resignation speech on November 4 – in which Hariri claimed with incredible drama that he was in danger of an assassination plot by Hezbollah and its ally Iran – it was reported that Hariri was having dinner with the French culture minister in Beirut. During their meal, he received a phone call. His demeanor darkened, and he immediately departed from the table for a flight to Riyadh. Without the company of aides, Hariri was met on his arrival by Saudi officials who took his mobile phone from him. He was not greeted by senior Saudi rulers like Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which would have been customary diplomatic protocol.

Everything about the next two weeks of Hariri’s stay in Saudi Arabia signals a de facto detention against his will. Admittedly, he made a brief flight to the United Arab Emirates during the time period, which was claimed by the Saudis to be proof of his free movement. The UAE rulers are closely aligned with the House of Saud, and besides Hariri was soon back in his Riyadh residence, from where he continued to tweet to friends that he was “fine”.

This is nothing but a sham. The stark facts are that Saudi Arabia has brazenly interfered in the internal affairs of Lebanon, trying to force its prime minister to step down. Furthermore, the Saudi rulers have accused Lebanon of “acts of war” by allegedly supporting Houthi rebels in Yemen; the Saudis have also ordered their nationals to leave Lebanon; and there are reports emerging of the Saudis now pushing to suspend Beirut from the Arab League. This is reckless incendiary behavior by the Saudi rulers.

Should we be surprised though? Saudi Arabia has shown absolute criminal disregard for international law over its bombing and genocidal blockade of Yemen, where humanitarian aid groups have warned that 50,000 children may die this year due to enforced deprivation from the nearly three-year American and British-backed Saudi war on Yemen.

The absolute Saudi monarchy has also gone on an internal rampage of arresting its own government ministers and other businessmen in an audacious power-grab under the guise of “an anti-corruption drive”. Moreover, Saudi rulers have been instrumental in organizing a legally dubious trade and diplomatic blockade of Qatar over trumped claims that the latter is a stooge for Iran and singularly supporting terrorists (this from the Saudis who have bankrolled terrorist proxies to overthrow the government in Syria.)

The criminality and rogue conduct of Saudi Arabia is legion and brazenly in your face.

That is why the so-called “international community”, the UN, Washington, the European Union, and France in particular are deserving of withering censure. Their mealy-mouthed muted statements on Saudi misconduct towards Lebanon are a disgrace. They are complicit in wanton lawlessness by their pandering to Saudi despots.

But France’s Emmanuel Macron has emerged as the prime disgrace. His invitation to Saad Hariri and his family to come to France is a cynical move to give cover to the Saudi despots. Tellingly, on the announcement of the invitation, Macron said that “it was not an offer of exile”. That’s Macron making it all sugary nice as pie.

On Friday, the day before Hariri arrived in Paris, Macron actually accused Iran of “aggression” and has called for sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missile defense program. So, Macron, sneakily, is giving the Saudi narrative succor, and blaming Iran, instead of condemning Riyadh for its flagrant interference and aggression.

Again, by inviting Hariri to Paris, Macron is indulging the Saudi-Hariri charade that all is “normal” – when in reality the sordid shenanigans over the past two weeks amount to an outrageous and very grave violation of international law and of a neighboring country’s sovereignty by the Saudis.

With this kind of cynical “diplomacy”, Macron is showing that France is far from capable of having any leadership role or moral authority in the Middle East or the world.

Of course, France’s vested economic interests with the Saudi despots, from arms sales to energy and infrastructure projects, are central to Macron’s expedient calculations.

Macron’s ambitions of engendering some kind of renaissance of France as a global power are futile and nothing but sheer vanity. The cowardice of the French president in the face of Saudi aggression towards Lebanon shows that Macron and his pretensions of “global power” are a puff of cheap cosmetic powder.

November 20, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Single Party French State … as the Majority of Voters Abstain

By Diana Johnstone | CounterPunch | June 21, 2017

French legislative elections follow hard on the heels of the Presidential election. The momentum virtually ensures a presidential majority. So it was taken for granted that voters would give President Emmanuel Macron a docile parliament for his five-year mandate.

But these elections were exceptional. The victory of Macron’s personal party, la République En Marche (REM), is novel in several ways. Not only has REM won an absolute majority of 350 out of 577 seats in the National Assembly. REM’s victory has also bled the two traditional governing parties, the Republicans and the Socialists, perhaps fatally.

With over 130 seats, the Republican Party of former President Nicolas Sarkozy and its allies came in second, and thus ranks as leading opposition party. But since Macron successfully lured two Republican politicians into prominent positions in his government – Edouard Philippe as Prime Minister and Bruno LeMaire as Economics Minister – it is hard even for the Republicans’ current leader, François Baroin, to explain just what they will oppose. How can they be a “right-wing opposition” to a government that intends to tear down the Labor Code, leaving workers at the mercy of employers, to deregulate the economy, to privatize, and to promote European militarization?

The plight of the Socialists is even more dire. Despite their strong historic implantation throughout the country, they won only 29 seats (which with small party allies gives them a group of 45 deputies).  Most of the prominent members of Hollande’s government who dared to run were defeated. Former Prime Minister Manuel Valls’ close victory in the town where he used to be mayor is being vehemently contested, by angry crowds, with accusations of cheating.

As an opposition party, the Socialists’ predicament is even worse than that of the Republicans. Macron was a pet advisor to Socialist President François Hollande, a minister of economics in his government, and was sponsored by leading Socialists as a way to perpetuate their own surrender to high finance. Since many of leading Socialist Party personalities have joined or endorsed Macron, the survivors are not sure whether to support him – or how not to. The confusion is total.

The result is that by cannibalizing the two discredited government parties, and adding a large contingent of political amateurs (described as representatives of “civil society”), Macron and his team have succeeded in creating a new form of single party state. The new majority of deputies in the National Assembly are not there to represent ideas, or a program, or local constituencies, but simply to represent… Emmanuel Macron. From the looks of it, he can do whatever he wants, and the parliament will approve.

Macron’s victory was both overwhelming and underwhelming. All records of abstention were broken; for the first time in over a century, a majority of eligible voters stayed away from the polls in the first round of the parliamentary elections, and abstention rose to 57% in the second round. He owes his landslide to less than 20% of registered voters.

There is no doubt that the election results reveal a rejection of traditional parties, of politicians, and to some extent even a rejection of electoral politics. This is a foreseeable result of the so-called “power of the markets” – which disempower the voters. Political elites have surrendered to the dictates of financial capital, primarily through the intermediary of the European Union, where economic policy is designed and imposed on Member States. Presented as “new”, Macron is simply more intent than his predecessors on pushing through EU economic policies, on behalf of the big banks and at the expense of everyone else. But many of those who voted for him did so fatalistically: “let’s give him a chance”, like playing the lottery.

Indeed, Macron ran as himself, “young, vigorous, optimistic” in a time of pessimism, and not as a program. And the election season showed that personalities counted more than parties or programs. The two most charismatic personalities in French politics, Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, after their strong scores in the presidential elections, were both comfortably elected to the National Assembly from friendly districts (he in Marseilles and she in the depressed industrial north), but their followers did not rush to the polls to support their respective parties. Mélenchon’s party, La France Insoumise, won only 17 seats, which together with ten communists could make a group of 27 deputies.

As for Marine Le Pen, her National Front won only eight seats, four from the traditionally socialist north (including Marine), and four from the right-leaning south (including Marine’s life partner, Louis Aliot).  That reflects the ideological division in the party. In the Calais region, the winning National Front leader was a former regional Communist Party leader, José Evrard, who comes from a family of coal miners and anti-Nazi resistants. The intellectual leader of the left tendency, Florian Philippot, was not elected, but plans to work to create a broader “sovereignist” movement opposing Macron’s drive to integrate France irreparably into Western globalizing economic and military structures.

In short, President Emmanuel Macron is intent on using his unprecedented single party powers to reduce the power of France by intensifying its commitment to globalization. But how much power does he really have, or is he an instrument of other powers?

Chief power guru, Jacques Attali, tends to glorify himself shamelessly, but when he says that he is “very proud” of having launched Macron’s brilliant career, he is telling the unchallenged truth. As for the next President after Macron, Attali claims to know “who she is”, as well.

But whoever he or she may be, Attali’s point is that genuine power is not exercised by politicians any more, but by financial institutions. The President of the Republic has much less power than people think, he told a recent television panel. One reason is the euro, he said, which “means that a large part of economic policy has fortunately become European.

Decentralization, major investments and major infrastructures are no longer up to the State. Globalization and the market have won hands down. There are a large number of things that were thought to be up to the government and no longer are.”

Presidents “no longer have real power over society.”

As for getting out of the clutches of European dictates, Attali boasts that those who, like himself, took part in writing the first versions of the EU treaties “made sure that getting out is no longer possible.”

“The market is going to spread to sectors to which it hasn’t had access until now such as health, education, the courts, the police, foreign affairs…” The outcome will be a dominant market which causes more and more concentration of wealth, growing inequality, absolute priority to the short term and to the tyranny of the present instant and of money, Attali concedes cynically.

A fairly realistic sense of powerlessness underlies the high abstention rate and the search for a providential leader. Since the Socialists and the Republicans have been contaminated with Macronism, the serious parliamentary opposition is reduced to the small party of Mélenchon and the still smaller party of Marine Le Pen. Mélenchon has the oratorical skill to be the leading opposition voice within and even outside the new Parliament. Marine still commands strong personal loyalty. But as long as they fail to find common ground, the Macron machine will play on their differences to marginalize them as the “extreme right” and the “extreme left”. And French democracy will continue to be disempowered by global governance. The single party state is at least an accurate expression of that reality.

Diana Johnstone is the author of Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions. Her new book is Queen of Chaos: the Misadventures of Hillary Clinton. She can be reached at diana.johnstone@wanadoo.fr

October 1, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

‘WikiLeaks’ Vault 7 cache shows US – not Russia – hacked past French elections’

RT | June 2, 2017

Any establishment-anointed political candidate wants to say they are under attack by the Russians because it gives them credibility, former MI5 intelligence officer Annie Machon told RT. Political analyst Adam Garrie joins the discussion.

Guillaume Poupard, the head of the National Cybersecurity Agency of France (ANSSI), said on Thursday there’s no trace of a Russian hacking group being behind the attack on Emmanuel Macron’s presidential election campaign.

According to him, the hack was “so generic and simple that it could have been practically anyone.”

RT:  Where does this statement by France’s cybersecurity chief leave the claims of Macron’s team on Russian hacking?

Annie Machon: It leaves rather a lot of egg on their faces. It appears that this attack was of such of low technical level it could have been done by a script kiddie from their mom’s basement. So rather than this hysteria about: ‘The Russians must have done it, the Russians must have done it,’ which reminds me to a certain extent of the Monty Python script that ‘you must always expect a Spanish Inquisition.’ It is beyond parody. We have a situation now where he was trying to make political hay. It seems to me that any establishment-anointed political candidate now wants to immediately say they are under attack by the Russians because it gives them credibility. It is just crazy.

Now, the one thing we do know from this is that the one country that actually has hacked the French election was the USA, and that was back in the presidential election of 2012 where they were not only intercepting the electronic communications, they were actually running human agents in the political parties. We know this because of disclosures through the Vault 7 cache that WikiLeaks put out a month or two ago. For everyone to go around blaming the Russians, when in fact the Americans have been doing this for years, is rather rich?

RT:  Why were members of Macron’s team so sure about Russia’s involvement? Do they know something France’s cybersecurity chief doesn’t?

AM: Obviously not. I think they were just jumping on the bandwagon because it was the sort of cool thing to do. After the fake buildup of the ‘Russians hacked the American elections,’ which started by the way with a leak from the DNC [Democratic National Committee] that was given to WikiLeaks, and somehow it moved into ‘Russians hacked the American election.’

Suddenly it has become established fact in the mainstream media in the West that the Russians are going to hack every Western democratic election. That is patently not the case in France, and it is also patently not the case in Germany, where there has also been a similar panic about Russia trying to hack the forthcoming chancellor’s elections in the autumn this year. In fact, the BND [Federal Intelligence Service] and BfV [Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution,] the two major intelligence agencies in Germany, put out a report in February saying there was absolutely no evidence whatsoever the Russians were trying to do this. Merkel didn’t like that result. She told her intelligence agencies to go away and to find more evidence and to find a case to say that they were indeed trying to interfere in the German elections. It is collective hysteria.

‘Low-level hack’

Adam Garrie, political analyst

RT:  Why were members of the Macron team so sure about Russia’s involvement in hacking the campaign? Do they know something France’s cybersecurity chief doesn’t?

AG: I strongly doubt that. They barely seem to know how to beat Marine Le Pen. But with a little help from their friends in the mainstream media, France and elsewhere they managed to just about accomplish that. It is simply the restating of a tired, old narrative; they have very little else to say. Macron as a man, if you can even really call him that in terms of his personality, is more of a viceroy, more of a governor general than he is a president. Putin, at the press conference he had at Versailles with Macron, questioned whether France is able to even independently conduct its foreign policy in Syria, independent of NATO and the US-led coalition. So these people that really don’t have much to offer their own country, let alone their political masters, are just churning out the narrative again and again. You’ve seen it with Hillary Clinton in America, and her supporters, and you see something similar in France. And likewise, the allegations are based – Donald Trump, probably accurately, said it could have been a 400-pound man in his bedroom somewhere. As the French authorities said today, it was probably the work of a lone hacker, and the hack itself wasn’t at the level of sophistication that would have even required state operators to be behind it.

RT:  Do you think all these Russian hacking allegations during the presidential race had much impact on the final choice of the new president?

AG: I agree with President Putin on this. All of these hacks and allegations of hacks have very little impact on the actual electoral results. People are going to look first and foremost in all countries at domestic issues. Unless you’re in the war-zone that’s what the priorities are going to be for voters. They are going to look at tax; they are going to look at healthcare. They are going to look at living standards, wages, employment, etc. – these sorts of things. This idea that somehow magically Russia is pulling the political strings of various candidates in different Western countries is simply absurd. And I personally give the average voter – whether in France or America – more credit than the mainstream media is willing to give him.

June 2, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 1 Comment

President Emmanuel Macron: Reversing Five Decades of Working-Class Power

By James Petras :: 05.21.2017 

Introduction

Whatever has been written about President Emmanuel Macron by the yellow or the respectable press has been mere trivia or total falsehood. Media lies have a purpose that goes beyond Macron’s election. Throughout Europe and North America, bankers and manufacturers, NATO, militarists and EU oligarchs, media moguls and verbal assassins, academics and journalists, all characterized the election victory of Macron as a ‘defeat of fascism’ and the ‘triumph of the French people’.

Macron and ‘What People’?

First of all, Macron received only 46% of the actual vote. Over 54% of eligible French voters either abstained, spoiled their ballots or voted for Marine Le Pen, the nationalist populist. In other words, 26 million voters rejected or ignored Macron’s candidacy versus 20.6 million voters who endorsed him. This was despite an unremitting push for Macron from the entire French and European mass media, all of the major political parties and the vast majority of academics, journalists, publishers, undertakers and doormen.

In a word: Emmanuel Macron is a minority President, unpopular to most of the French electorate.

There are some very sound political and socio-economic reasons why Macron’s candidacy would be rejected by most of the French people, while receiving full support from the ruling class.

Secondly, there was a phony image of Macron as the ‘novice, untainted by old-line corrupt politics’. The financial and business press busily painted an image of the virgin Manny Macron bravely prepared to introduce ’sweeping reforms’ and rescue France – a sort of banker-Joan of Arc against the veteran ‘fascist’ Marine Le Pen and her ‘deplorable’ supporters.

The reality is that Macron has always been a highly experienced member of the most elite financial-political networks in France. He served as a senior executive in the notorious Rothschild banking conglomerate. In a few short years ‘Saint Manny’ had accumulated millions of euros in commissions from fixing corporate deals.

Macron’s financial colleagues encouraged him to accept the post of Economic Minister under the decrepit regime of President Francois Hollande. Banker Macron helped the ‘Socialist’ President Hollande shed any of his party’s pro-labor pretensions and embrace a radical anti-worker agenda. As Economic Minister Macron implemented a 40 billion euro tax cut for businesses and proposed far-right legislation designed to weaken workers collective bargaining rights.

The Hollande-Macron proposals faced massive opposition in the streets and parliament. With the government’s popular support falling to the single digits, the anti-labor legislation was withdrawn or diluted … temporarily. This experience inspired Macron to re-invent (or re-virginize) himself: From hard-assed rightwing hack, he emerged the novice politico claiming to be ‘neither right nor left’.

The totally discredited ‘Socialist’ Hollande, following the example of France’s financial elite, supported presidential candidate Macron. Of course, whenever Macron spoke of representing ‘all France’, he meant ‘all’ bankers, manufacturers and rentier oligarchs – the entire capitalist sector.

In the first round of presidential voting, Macron’s candidacy divided the elites: Bankers were split between Macron and Fillon, while many social democrats, trade union officials and ‘identitarian’-single issue sectarians would end up voting Macron.

Macron won by default: Fillon, his far right bourgeois rival was snared in a political- swindle involving ‘family’ and his finicky supporters switched to Macron. The Socialists defected from their discredited Hollande to the ‘reconstructed choirboy’ Macron. Meanwhile, the ‘left’ had rediscovered ‘anti-fascism’: They opposed the national-populist Le Pen and slithered under the bankers’ backdoor to vote for Macron.

Almost one-third of the French electorate abstained or showed their contempt by spoiling their ballots.

Throughout the election theatrics, the media breathlessly reported every frivolous ‘news’ item to polish the halo of their ‘novice’ Macron. They swooned over the ‘novelty’ of Macron’s teen age ‘love affair’ and subsequent marriage to his former schoolteacher. The media played-up the charmingly ‘amateurish’ nature of his campaign staff, which included upwardly mobile professionals, downwardly mobile social democrat politicos and ‘off the street’ volunteers. The mass media downplayed one critical aspect: Macro’s historic ties to the big bankers!

Behind the carefully crafted image of a ‘political outsider’, the steely eyed Macron was never influenced by the swooning media propaganda: He remained deeply committed to reversing fifty years of working class advances in France in favor of the financial class.

Macron’s Power Grab : En Marche to Defeat the Working Class

Immediately upon his election, Macron presented his first major piece of legislation: The ‘liberalization’ (reversal) of France’s progressive and socially protective labor laws.

President Macron promised to eliminate industry-wide labor-capital negotiations, in favor of factory-by-factory negotiations. Undermining industry-wide collective power means that each monopoly or conglomerate can dominate and isolate workers in their work place. Macron envisions a complete shift of power into the hands of capital in order to slash wages, increase work hours and reduce regulations on workplace safety and worker health. The proposed anti-labor laws represent a return of capitalist power to the golden age of the late 19th and early 20th centuries – precisely why the financial elite anointed Macron as ‘President of all France’.

Even more important, by destroying a unified, labor movement and the power of workers’ solidarity, Macron will be free to radically restructure the entire socio-economic system in favor of capital!

Concentrating all power and profits in the hands of the capitalist class, Macron’s legislative agenda will free him to fire over 150,000 public employees, drastically reduce public spending and investment and privatize critical public financial, energy and industrial sectors.

Macron will shift the balance of power further away from labor in order to increase profits, reduce middle and working class social, health and educational services and to decrease corporate taxes from 33.3% to 25%.

Macron’s plan will strengthen the role of the French financial elite within the European Union’s oligarchical structure and allow the bankers to impose harsh ‘austerity’ policies throughout Europe.

In the sphere of foreign and military affairs, Macron fervently supports NATO. His regime will back the aggressive US military policies toward Russia and the Middle East – especially the violent breakup of Syria.

President Macron’s reactionary, ‘liberalizing’ agenda will require his party and allies to gain a majority in next month’s parliamentary elections (June 2017). His strategy will consist of ‘diversity in appearance and hard, single-minded reactionary policies in content’.

The ‘diverse’ groups and individuals, allied with Macron, are largely composed of fragmented collections of opportunists and discredited politicos mainly in search of office. Under Macron, the parliament will include everything from old-line rightwing social democrats, as well as single-issue environment and gender opportunists, allied with conservatives looking for a chance to finally savage France’s labor laws.

If successful in the coming elections, Macron’s parliament will legitimize the policies of his far right Prime Minister and Cabinet. If Macron fails to secure an outright majority, he is sure to patch together a coalition with veteran right-wing politicos, which, of course, will be ‘balanced’ with 50% women. Macron’s coalition of dinosaurs and ‘women’ will eagerly smash the rights and living standards of all workers – regardless of gender!

Macron hopes to win sufficient parliamentary votes to negotiate alliances with the traditional conservative parties and the rump of the Socialist Party to consolidate the rule of the Troika: the bankers, the EU and NATO.

President Macron: By the Ballot or the Bullet

There is no doubt that the French working class, the salaried public and private employees, the unemployed youth, students and public health workers will take to the streets, with the backing of 60% or more of the public, including the 33% who voted for Marine Le Pen.

Strikes, general and partial, of long and short duration, will confront the Macron regime and its far right, self-styled ‘transformative’ agenda.

Rothschild’s errand boy, Manny Macron cannot mobilize supporters in the streets and will have to rely on the police. Many parliamentary backers are fearful of both the problem (strikes) and the solution (police repression).

The Corporate Elite: President Macron Adopts Napoleonic Decrees

In 2016 when Macron was the Economic Minister in the President Francois Hollande’s regime, he introduced a new regressive labor policy dubbed the ‘El Khomri’ law (named after the reactionary Labor Minister Myriam El Khormi). This led to massive street demonstrations forcing Hollande to withdraw the legislation. Now as President, Macron proposes a far more rigid and destructive labor law, which his corporate colleagues insist he implement by the ‘ballot’ if possible or the ‘billy club’ if necessary. In other words, if he cannot win the support of the National Assembly, he will implement the labor law by presidential decree.

The President of MEDEF (Mouvement des Entreprises de France), the employers’ federation, Pierre Gattaz, has demanded immediate implementation of policies to crush labor. Macron will outlaw labor protests via presidential decree and cut parliamentary debate in order to transform the elite’s ‘El Dorado’ of all (labor) reforms (sic) into reality.

The entire leadership of the capitalist class and financial press backs Macron’s bid to govern by decree as a ‘good idea in the circumstances’, (Financial Times, 5/10/17, pg. 2). Macron’s ‘Napoleonic’ pretentions will inevitably deepen class polarization and strengthen ties between the militant trade unions and Le Pen’s industrial working class supporters.

We face an approaching time of open and declared class war in France.

Conclusion

Reality has quickly cut through the lies about the origin of Emmanuel Macron’s electoral victory. Brutal police truncheons, wielded in defense of Macron’s election triumph, will further reveal the real faces of French ‘fascism’ better than any editorial by the French ‘left’. The fascists are not to be found among Le Pen’s working class voters!

The fools within the French academia, who backed the Rothschild candidate in the name of ‘fighting fascism at all cost’, will soon find themselves wandering among the workers’ street barricade, dodging the clouds of teargas, on the way to their cafes and computers.

The ruling class chose Macron because they know he will not back down in the face of street demonstrations or even a general strike!

The intellectuals who backed Macron as ‘the lesser evil’ are now discovering that he is the greater evil. They are not too late to be . . . irrelevant.

Macron’s grandiose vision is to introduce his hyper-capitalist ideology throughout Europe and beyond. He proposes to transform the EU into a ‘competitive capitalist paradise under French leadership’.

Given the historic role of the French worker, it is more likely that Macron will not succeed in implementing his ‘labor reforms’. His decrees will surely provoke powerful resistance from the streets and the public institutions. When he falters, his parliamentary supporters will fracture into little warring clans. Factory owners will bemoan the workers who occupy their plants and bankers will complain that the farmers’ tractors are blocking the roads to their country villas.

The Germans and British elite will urge their ‘little Napoleon’ to hold firm, for fear the ‘French contagion’ might spread to their somnolent workers.

On the one hand, Macron’s successful decree can open the way for a transformation of capital-labor relations into a modern 21st century corporate state.

On the other, a successful general strike can open the door to a Europe-wide revolt. Macron’s enigmatic (and meaningless) slogan ‘neither right nor left’ is now exposed: He is the “Bonaparte of the Bourse”!

May 21, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Economics | , , , | 1 Comment

Twenty Truths about Marine Le Pen

By James Petras :: 05.01.2017

Introduction

Every day in unimaginable ways, prominent leaders from the left and the right, from bankers to Parisian intellectuals, are fabricating stories and pushing slogans that denigrate presidential candidate Marine Le Pen.

They obfuscate her program, substituting the label ‘extremist’ for her pro-working class and anti-imperialist commitment. Fear and envy over the fact that a new leader heads a popular movement has seeped into Emmanuel “Manny” Macron’s champagne-soaked dinner parties. He has good reason to be afraid: Le Pen addresses the fundamental interests of the vast- majority of French workers, farmers, public employees, unemployed and underemployed youth and older workers approaching retirement.

The mass media, political class and judicial as well as street provocateurs savagely assault Le Pen, distorting her domestic and foreign policies. They are incensed that Le Pen pledges to remove France from NATO’s integrated command – effectively ending its commitment to US directed global wars. Le Pen rejects the oligarch-dominated European Union and its austerity programs, which have enriched bankers and multi-national corporations. Le Pen promises to convoke a national referendum over the EU – to decide French submission. Le Pen promises to end sanctions against Russia and, instead, increase trade. She will end France’s intervention in Syria and establish ties with Iran and Palestine.

Le Pen is committed to Keynesian demand-driven industrial revitalization as opposed to Emmanuel Macron’s ultra-neoliberal supply-side agenda.

Le Pen’s program will raise taxes on banks and financial transactions while fining capital flight in order to continue funding France’s retirement age of 62 for women and 65 for men, keeping the 35 hour work-week, and providing tax free overtime pay. She promises direct state intervention to prevent factories from relocating to low wage EU economies and firing French workers.

Le Pen is committed to increasing public spending for childcare and for the poor and disabled. She has pledged to protect French farmers against subsidized, cheap imports.

Marine Le Pen supports abortion rights and gay rights. She opposes the death penalty. She promises to cut taxes by 10% for low-wage workers. Marine is committed to fighting against sexism and for equal pay for women.

Marine Le Pen will reduce migration to ten thousand people and crack down on immigrants with links to terrorists.

Emmanuel Macron: Macro Billionaire and Micro Worker Programs

Macron has been an investment banker serving the Rothschild and Cie Banque oligarchy, which profited from speculation and the pillage of the public treasury. Macron served in President Hollande’s Economy Ministry, in charge of ‘Industry and Digital Affairs’ from 2014 through 2016. This was when the ‘Socialist’ Hollande imposed a pro-business agenda, which included a 40 billion-euro tax cut for the rich.

Macron is tied to the Republican Party and its allied banking and business Confederations, whose demands include: raising the retirement age, reducing social spending, firing tens of thousands of public employees and facilitating the outflow of capital and the inflow of cheap imports.

Macron is an unconditional supporter of NATO and the Pentagon. He fully supports the European Union. For their part, the EU oligarchs are thrilled with Macron’s embrace of greater austerity for French workers, while the generals can expect total material support for the ongoing and future US-NATO wars on three continents.

Propaganda, Labels and Lies

Macron’s pro-war, anti-working class and ’supply-side’ economic policies leave us with only one conclusion: Marine Le Pen is the only candidate of the left. Her program and commitments are pro-labor, not ‘hard’ or ‘far’ right – and certainly not ‘fascist’.

Macron, on the other hand is a committed rightwing extremist, certainly no ‘centrist’, as the media and the political elite claim! One has only to look at his background in banking, his current supporters among the oligarchs and his ministerial policies when he served Francois Holland.

The ‘Macronistas’ have accused Marine Le Pen of extreme ‘nationalism’, ‘fascism’, ‘anti-Semitism’ and ‘anti-immigrant racism’. ‘The French Left’, or what remains of it, has blindly swallowed the oligarchs’ campaign against Le Pen despite the malodorous source of these libels.

Le Pen is above all a ’sovereigntist’: ‘France First’. Her fight is against the Brussels oligarchs and for the restoration of sovereignty to the French people. There is an infinite irony in labeling the fight against imperial political power as ‘hard right’. It is insulting to debase popular demands for domestic democratic power over basic economic policies, fiscal spending, incomes and prices policies, budgets and deficits as ‘extremist and far right’.

Marine Le Pen has systematically transformed the leadership, social, economic program and direction of the National Front Party.

She expelled its anti-Semites, including her own father! She transformed its policy on women’s rights, abortion, gays and race. She won the support of young unemployed and employed factory workers, public employees and farmers. Young workers are three times more likely to support her national industrial revitalization program over Macron’s ‘free market dogma’. Le Pen has drawn support from French farmers as well as the downwardly mobile provincial middle-class, shopkeepers, clerks and tourism-based workers and business owners.

Despite the trends among the French masses against the oligarchs, academics, intellectuals and political journalists have aped the elite’s slander against Le Pen because they will not antagonize the prestigious media and their administrators in the universities. They will not acknowledge the profound changes that have occurred within the National Front under Marine Le Pen. They are masters of the ‘double discourse’ – speaking from the left while working with the right. They confuse the lesser evil with the greater evil.

If Macron wins this election (and nothing is guaranteed!), he will certainly implement his ‘hard’ and ‘extreme’ neo-liberal agenda. When the French workers go on strike and demonstrators erect barricades in the streets in response to Macron’s austerity, the fake-left will bleat out their inconsequential ‘critique’ of ‘impure reason’. They will claim that they were right all along.

If Le Pen loses this election, Macron will impose his program and ignite popular fury. Marine will make an even stronger candidate in the next election… if the French oligarchs’ judiciary does not imprison her for the crime of defending sovereignty and social justice.

May 1, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

Big Stakes in the French Presidential Election: Governance Versus the People

By Diana Johnstone | CounterPunch | March 31, 2017

The 2017 French Presidential election is no joke. It is shaping up as a highly significant encounter between two profoundly opposing conceptions of political life. On one side, governance, meaning the joint management of society by a co-opted elite, on the model of business corporations. On the other side, the traditional system called “democracy”, meaning the people’s choice of leaders by free and fair elections.

Historically, French political events tend to mark epochs and clarify dichotomies, starting with the waning distinction between “left” and “right”. This election may be such an event.

What is “governance”?

It has become increasingly clear that the trans-Atlantic power elite have long since decided that traditional representative democracy is no longer appropriate for a globalized world based on free circulation of capital. Instead, the favored model is “governance”, a word taken from the business world, which refers to successful management of large corporations, united in a single purpose and aiming at maximum efficiency. This origin is evident in aspects of political governance: an obligatory unanimity concerning “values”, enforced by corporate media; the use of specialized committees to provide suggestions concerning delicate issues, a role played by “civil society”; the use of psychology and communications to shape public opinion; isolation of trouble-makers; and co-optation of leadership.

These features increasingly describe political life in the West. In the United States, the transition from democracy to governance has been managed by the two-party system, limiting voters’ choice to two candidates, selected and vetted by principal shareholders in the national business on the basis of their commitment to pursuing the governance agenda. This was going smoothly until Hillary Clinton, the overwhelming favorite of the entire elite, was shockingly defeated by an unvetted intruder, Donald Trump. The unprecedented elite reaction shows how little the governance elite is ready to cede power to an outsider, but the situation in France is even clearer. Trump was in many respects a fluke, a lone wolf without a clearly defined popular base, who has so far not succeeded in wresting power from the “deep state”, which remains loyal to Western governance choices. The situation in the United States remains uncertain, but the upset reflected rising, although poorly defined, popular resentment against the globalizing governors, especially due to economic inequality and the decline of living standards for much of the population.

Hillary Clinton actually chose to use the word “governance” to describe her goals, in partnership with Goldman Sachs and other representatives of “civil society”. But even she was not as much a pure product of the globalization system as the French candidate Emmanuel Macron.

Governance Personified

The first way to spot the role assigned to Macron is simply to glance at the media: the endless magazine covers, puff pieces, platitudinous interviews – and never a word of criticism (whereas his leading rivals are systematically denigrated). In January, Foreign Policy introduced its readers to Macron as “The English-Speaking, German-Loving, French Politician Europe Has Been Waiting For”.

His career trajectory makes it clear why Western mainstream media are hailing Macron as the Messiah.

Born in Amiens only 39 years ago, Emmanuel Macron has spent a lot of his life in school. Like most of France’s leaders, he was educated in some of the best, but not the best, of France’s elite schools (for connoisseurs, he failed entrance to ENS but did Sciences Po and ENA). U.S. media seem impressed by the fact that along the way he studied philosophy, which is no big deal in France.

In 2004 he passed the competitive exam to be admitted to the Inspection Générale des Finances, one of the corps of experts that have distinguished the French system since Napoleon. IGF inspectors have lifetime security and are assigned as economic advisors to government officials or private entities. In the IGF he gained the attention of the particularly well-connected senior official Jean-Pierre Jouyet, who recommended him to Jacques Attali, the most spectacular of the intellectual gurus who for the past 35 years has regaled French governments with his futuristic visions (Jerusalem as capital of a future world government, for example). In 2007, Attali co-opted Macron into his super-elite “Commission for the Liberation of Growth”, authorized to provide guidance to the Presidency. A star was born – a star of the business world.

The Attali commission prepared a list of 316 proposals explicitly designed  to “install a new governance in service of growth”. In this context, “growth” naturally means growth of profits, by way of measures cutting back the cost of labor, tearing down barriers to movement of capital, deregulation. The 40 elite members planning the future of France included heads of Deutsche Bank and the Swiss firm Nestle. They also provided the young Macron with a valuable address book of useful contacts.

In 2008, on recommendation from Attali, Macron was taken into the Rothschild Bank at a high level. By negotiating a Nestle purchase worth nine billion dollars, Macron became a millionaire, thanks to his commission.

To what did he owe a successful rise that two centuries ago would have been a subject for a Balzac novel? He was “impressive”, recalls Attali. He got along with everyone and “didn’t antagonize anyone”.

Alain Minc, another star expert on everything, once put it this way: Macron is smart, but above all, he makes a good banker because he is “charming” – a necessary quality for “a whore’s profession” (“un métier de pute”).

Macron is famous for such words of wisdom as:

“What France needs is more young people who want to become billionaires.”

Or:

“Who cares about programs? What counts is vision.”

So Macron has launched his career on the basis of his charm and “vision” – he certainly has a clear vision of the way to the top.

Formation of the Governance Elite

This path is strewn with contacts. The governance elite operates by co-optation. They recognize each other, they “smell each other out”, they are of one mind.

Of course, these days, the active thought police are quick to condemn talk of “governance” as a form of conspiracy theory. But there is no conspiracy, because there does not need to be. People who think alike act together. Nobody has to tell them what to do.

And people who decry every hint of “conspiracy” seem to believe that people who possess immense power, especially financial power, don’t bother to use it. Instead they sit back and tell themselves, “Let the people decide.” Like George Soros, for instance.

In reality, people with power not only use it, they are convinced that they should use it, for the good of humanity, for the good of the world. They know best, so why should they leave momentous decisions up to the ignorant masses? That’s why David Rockefeller founded the Trilateral Commission forty years ago, to figure out how to deal with “too much democracy”.

These days, ideologues keep the masses amused with arguments about themselves, which identity group they belong to, which gender they might be, who is being unfair to whom, who it is they must “hate” for the crime of “hating”.

Meanwhile, the elite meet among themselves and decide what is best.

Thanks to Jouyet, in 2007 Macron was co-opted into a club called Les Gracques (after the Roman Gracchus brothers), devoted to “values” based on recognition that the Keynesian welfare State doesn’t fit globalization and European Union development.

In 2011, Macron was co-opted into the Club de la Rotonde, which undertook to advise President Hollande to hit France with a “competitiveness shock” – favoring investment by lowering public expenses and labor costs.

In 2012, Macron was welcomed into the French-American Foundation, known for selecting the “young leaders” of the future.

In 2014, Macron made it to the really big time. On May 31 and June 1 of that year he attended the annual Bilderberg meeting, held in Copenhagen. This super-secret gathering of “governance” designers was formed in 1954 by Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. No journalists are allowed into the Bilderberg gathering, but leading press barons are there to agree on the consensus that must be spun to the masses.

And Policy? Program? What’s That?

With all these credentials, Macron went from being an economic advisor to François Hollande to Minister of Economy, Finance and Digital Industry, under Prime Minister Manuel Valls, where he vigorously promoted the Attali agency on pretext of promoting “growth”. Among other things, he reversed the position of his predecessor by approving the sale of the crown jewel of French industry, the Alstom energy sector responsible for France’s nuclear power industry, to General Electric.

As Minister, Macron was responsible for the most unpopular measures of the entire unpopular Hollande presidency. His so-called “Macron Law”, featuring massive deregulation, conformed to European Union directives but was unable to win a majority in parliament, and had to be adopted by resorting to Article 49.3 in the Constitution, which allows the Prime Minister to adopt a law without a vote.

His next accomplishment was more veiled. He designed the “reform” (partial dismantling) of French labor law, presented to the public as the El Khomri Law, named after the young labor minister, Moroccan-born Myriam El Khomri. Mme El Khomri had virtually nothing to do with “her” law, except to put a pretty face and an “ethnic diversity” name on wildly unpopular legislation which sent protesting workers into the streets for weeks, split the Socialist Party and obliged Prime Minister Valls to resort once again to Article 49.3 to pass it into law.

Here the story becomes almost comical. Macron’s slash and burn dash through the Hollande/Valls government virtually destroyed the French Socialist Party, leaving it divided and demoralized. This opened the way for Macron to emerge as the heroic champion of “the future”, “neither left nor right”, “the France of winners” in his new party, En Marche (which can mean “it’s up and running”).

At present, Macron has risen to the top of the polls, neck and neck with the front runner, Marine Le Pen, for the April 23 first round, and thus the favorite to challenge her in the decisive May 7 second round. Being “charming” assured Macron a successful career as a banker, and the sycophantic mass media are doing their best to assure him the Presidency, mainly on the basis of his youthful charm.

The Media and the People

As never before, the press and television from which most people get their news have become not only unanimous in their choice and unscrupulous in their methods, but tyrannical in their condemnation of independent news sources as “fake” and “false”. They should be called the Mind Management Media. Objectivity is a thing of the past.

There are eleven official candidates running for the office of President of the French Republic. The Mind Management Media lavish admiring attention on Macron, treat his serious rivals as delinquents, toss a few bones to sure losers and ignore the rest. Backed by the Mind Management Media, Macron is the candidate of authoritarian governance running against all the others, against French democracy itself.

This is the first of two articles on the French Presidential election.

Diana Johnstone is the author of Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions. Her new book is Queen of Chaos: the Misadventures of Hillary Clinton. She can be reached at diana.johnstone@wanadoo.fr

April 1, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

RT Editor-in-chief comments on Macron’s ‘Fake News’ allegations

Sputnik – 05.03.2017

1049574871RT’s and Sputnik’s Editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan commented on the recent “fake news” accusations by French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron’s office toward the two media outlets.

Earlier, Macron’s ally Richard Ferrand claimed that RT and Sputnik were publishing false rumors about the candidate and favoring other participants of the presidential race.

Macron’s advisor Munir Manzhubi also accused the media outlets of spreading false information, however, without providing any evidence to support his allegations.

“We are flattered that Macron’s team continues to build its election campaign solely on lies about RT and Sputnik. Not comme il faut, but quite funny,” Simonyan said, commenting on the issue.

Following the allegations, Sputnik’s press service released a statement, saying that the statements made by Macron’s team are another attempt to manipulate public opinion. Sputnik stressed that it always covers facts and real opinions expressed by people involved in election campaigns regardless of whether anyone finds them unacceptable.

Earlier, French lawmaker and member of the Republican party Nicolas Dhuicq told Sputnik that, in his opinion, journalists of Sputnik news agency and the RT broadcaster are often more professional than their western colleagues when it comes to the fair transmission of speakers’ comments and news.

“Personally, I have no difficulties with RT or Sputnik. When I am interviewed by those two broadcasters in French or in English, I am asked a variety of questions and always have the time to express my ideas and my words, most of the time, are faithfully transmitted. In a contrary, when I recently encountered French TV teams, I had an experience when out of 30 minutes-long interview only seconds were taken and, of course, the parts which were taken had no links to the context or the rest of my speech,” Dhuicq told Sputnik on Friday.

Sputnik and RT have repeatedly become subjects of criticism among European politicians for allegedly producing fake news and spreading propaganda. At the same time, many European residents and experts view the media outlets as alternative sources of information and classify the West’s attempts to undermine their credibility as censorship and crackdown on the freedom of speech.

March 5, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | | Leave a comment

France: Another Ghastly Presidential Election Campaign; the Deep State Rises to the Surface

By Diana Johnstone | CounterPunch | February 17, 2017

As if the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign hadn’t been horrendous enough, here comes another one: in France.

The system in France is very different, with multiple candidates in two rounds, most of them highly articulate, who often even discuss real issues. Free television time reduces the influence of big money. The first round on April 23 will select the two finalists for the May 7 runoff, allowing for much greater choice than in the United States.

But monkey see, monkey do, and the mainstream political class wants to mimic the ways of the Empire, even echoing the theme that dominated the 2016 show across the Atlantic: the evil Russians are messing with our wonderful democracy.

The aping of the U.S. system began with “primaries” held by the two main governing parties which obviously aspire to establish themselves as the equivalent of American Democrats and Republicans in a two-party system. The right-wing party of former president Nicolas Sarkozy has already renamed itself Les Républicains and the so-called Socialist Party leaders are just waiting for the proper occasion to call themselves Les Démocrates. But as things are going, neither one of them may come out ahead this time.

Given the nearly universal disaffection with the outgoing Socialist Party government of President François Hollande, the Republicans were long seen as the natural favorites to defeat Marine LePen, who is shown by all polls to top the first round. With such promising prospects, the Republican primary brought out more than twice as many volunteer voters (they must pay a small sum and claim allegiance to the party’s “values” in order to vote) as the Socialists. Sarkozy was eliminated, but more surprising, so was the favorite, the reliable establishment team player, Bordeaux mayor Alain Juppé, who had been leading in the polls and in media editorials.

Fillon’s Family Values

In a surprise show of widespread public disenchantment with the political scene, Republican voters gave landside victory to former prime minister François Fillon, a practicing Catholic with an ultra-neoliberal domestic policy: lower taxes for corporations, drastic cuts in social welfare, even health health insurance benefits – accelerating what previous governments have been doing but more openly. Less conventionally, Fillon strongly condemns the current anti Russian policy. Fillon also deviates from the Socialist government’s single-minded commitment to overthrowing Assad by showing sympathy for embattled Christians in Syria and their protector, which happens to be the Assad government.

Fillon has the respectable look, as the French say, of a person who could take communion without first going to confession.  As a campaign theme he credibly stressed his virtuous capacity to oppose corruption.

Oops!  On January 25, the semi-satirical weekly Le Canard Enchainé fired the opening shots of an ongoing media campaign designed to undo the image of Mister Clean, revealing that his British wife, Penelope, had been paid a generous salary for working as his assistant. As Penelope was known for staying home and raising their children in the countryside, the existence of that work is in serious doubt. Fillon also paid his son a lawyer’s fee for unspecified tasks and his daughter for supposedly assisting him write a book. In a sense, these allegations prove the strength of the conservative candidate’s family values.  But his ratings have fallen and he faces possible criminal charges for fraud.

The scandal is real, but the timing is suspect. The facts are many years old, and the moment of their revelation is well calculated to ensure his defeat. Moreover, the very day after the Canard’s revelations, prosecutors hastily opened an inquiry. In comparison with all the undisclosed dirty work and unsolved blood crimes committed by those in control of the French State over the years, especially during its foreign wars, enriching one’s own family may seem relatively minor. But that is not the way the public sees it.

Cui bono

It is widely assumed that despite National Front candidate Marine LePen’s constant lead in the polls, whoever comes in second will win the runoff because the established political class and the media will rally around the cry to “save the Republic!” Fear of the National Front as “a threat to the Republic” has become a sort of protection racket for the established parties, since it stigmatizes as unacceptable a large swath of opposition to themselves.  In the past, both main parties have sneakily connived to strengthen the National Front in order to take votes away from their adversary.

Thus, bringing down Fillon increases the chances that the candidate of the now thoroughly discredited Socialist Party may find himself in the magic second position after all, as the knight to slay the LePen dragon. But who exactly is the Socialist candidate? That is not so clear. There is the official Socialist Party candidate, Benoît Hamon. But the independent spin-off from the Hollande administration, Emmanuel Macron, “neither right nor left”, is gathering support from the right of the Socialist Party as well as from most of the neo-liberal globalist elite.

Macron is scheduled to be the winner. But first, a glance at his opposition on the left. With his ratings in the single digits, François Hollande very reluctantly gave in to entreaties from his colleagues to avoid the humiliation of running for a second term and losing badly. The badly attended Socialist Party primary was expected to select the fiercely pro-Israel prime minister Manuel Valls. Or if not, on his left, Arnaud Montebourg, a sort of Warren Beatty of French politics, famous for his romantic liaisons and his advocacy of re-industrialization of France.

Again, surprise. The winner was a colorless, little-known party hack named Benoît Hamon, who rode the wave of popular discontent to appear as a leftist critic and alternative to a Socialist government which sold out all Holland’s promises to combat “finance” and assaulted the rights of the working class instead. Hamon spiced up his claim to be “on the left” by coming up with a gimmick that is fashionable elsewhere in Europe but a novelty in French political discourse: the “universal basic income”. The idea of giving every citizen an equal handout can sound appealing to young people having trouble finding a job. But this idea, which originated with Milton Friedman and other apostles of unleashed financial capitalism, is actually a trap. The project assumes that unemployment is permanent, in contrast to projects to create jobs or share work. It would be financed by replacing a whole range of existing social allocations, in the name of “getting rid of bureaucracy” and “freedom of consumption”. The project would complete the disempowerment of the working class as a political force, destroying the shared social capital represented by public services, and splitting the dependent classes between paid workers and idle consumers.

There is scant chance that the universal income is about to become a serious item on the French political agenda. For the moment, Hamon’s claim to radicality serves to lure voters away from the independent left-wing candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Both are vying for support from greens and militants of the French Communist Party, which has lost all capacity to define its own positions.

The Divided Left

An impressive orator, Mélenchon gained prominence in 2005 as a leading opponent of the proposed European Constitution, which was decisively rejected by the French in a referendum, but was nevertheless adopted under a new name by the French national assembly. Like so many leftists in France, Mélenchon has a Trotskyist background (the Posadists, more attuned to Third World revolutions than their rivals) before joining the Socialist Party, which he left in 2008 to found the Parti de Gauche. He has sporadically wooed the rudderless Communist Party to join him as the Front de Gauche (the Left Front) and has declared himself its candidate for President on a new independent ticket called La France insoumise – roughly translated as “Insubordinate France”. Mélenchon is combative with France’s docile media, as he defends such unorthodox positions as praise of Chavez and rejection of France’s current Russophobic foreign policy. Unlike the conventional Hamon, who follows the Socialist party line, Mélenchon wants France to leave both the euro and NATO.

There are only two really strong personalities in this lineup: Mélenchon on the left and his adversary of choice, Marine LePen, on the right.  In the past, their rivalry in local elections has kept both from winning even though she came out ahead. Their positions on foreign policy are hard to distinguish from each other: criticism of the European Union, desire to leave NATO, good relations with Russia.

Since both deviate from the establishment line, both are denounced as “populists” – a term that is coming to mean anyone who pays more attention to what ordinary people want than to what the Establishment dictates.

On domestic social policy, on preservation of social services and workers’ rights, Marine is well to the left of Fillon. But the stigma attached to the National Front as the “far right” remains, even though, with her close advisor Florian Philippot, she has ditched her father, Jean-Marie, and adjusted the party line to appeal to working class voters. The main relic of the old National Front is her hostility to immigration, which now centers on fear of Islamic terrorists. The terrorist killings in Paris and Nice have made these positions more popular than they used to be. In her effort to overcome her father’s reputation as anti-Semitic, Marine LePen has done her best to woo the Jewish community, helped by her rejection of “ostentatious” Islam, going so far as to call for a ban on wearing an ordinary Muslim headscarf in public.

A runoff between Mélenchon and LePen would be an encounter between a revived left and a revived right, a real change from the political orthodoxy that has alienated much of the electorate. That could make politics exciting again. At a time when popular discontent with “the system” is rising, it has been suggested (by Elizabeth Lévy’s maverick monthly Le Causeur) that the anti-system Mélenchon might actually have the best chance of winning working class votes away from the anti-system LePen.

Manufacturing Consent

But the pro-European Union, pro-NATO, neoliberal Establishment is at work to keep that from happening. On every possible magazine cover or talk show, the media have shown their allegiance to a “New! Improved!” middle of the road candidate who is being sold to the public like a consumer product. At his rallies, carefully coached young volunteers situated in view of the cameras greet his every vague generalization with wild cheers, waving flags, and chanting “Macron President!!!” before going off to the discotèque party offered as their reward. Macron is the closest thing to a robot ever presented as a serious candidate for President. That is, he is an artificial creation designed by experts for a particular task.

Emmanuel Macron, 39, was a successful investment banker who earned millions working for the Rothschild bank. Ten years ago, in 2007, age 29, the clever young economist was invited into the big time by Jacques Attali, an immensely influential guru, whose advice since the 1980s has been central in wedding the Socialist Party to pro-capitalist, neoliberal globalism. Attali incorporated him into his private think tank, the Commission for Stimulating Economic Growth, which helped draft the  “300 Proposals to Change France” presented to President Sarkozy a year later as a blueprint for government.  Sarkozy failed to enact them all, for fear of labor revolts, but the supposedly “left” Socialists are able to get away with more drastic anti-labor measures, thanks to their softer discourse.

The soft discourse was illustrated by presidential candidate François Hollande in 2012 when he aroused enthusiasm by declaring to a rally: “My real enemy is the world of finance!”. The left cheered and voted for him. Meanwhile, as a precaution, Hollande secretly dispatched Macron to London to reassure the City’s financial elite that it was all just electoral talk.

After his election, Hollande brought Macron onto his staff. From there he was given a newly created super-modern sounding government post as minister of Economy, Industry and Digital affairs in 2014. With all the bland charm of a department store mannequin, Macron upstaged his irascible colleague, prime minister Manuel Valls, in the silent rivalry to succeed their boss, President Hollande. Macron won the affection of big business by making his anti-labor reforms look young and clean and “progressive”. In fact, he pretty much followed the Attali agenda.

The theme is “competitiveness”. In a globalized world, a country must attract investment capital in order to compete, and for that it is necessary to lower labor costs. A classic way to do that is to encourage immigration. With the rise of identity politics, the left is better than the right in justifying massive immigration on moral grounds, as a humanitarian measure. That is one reason that the Democratic Party in the United States and the Socialist Party in France have become the political partners of neoliberal globalism. Together, they have changed the outlook of the official left from structural measures promoting economic equality to moral measures promoting equality of minorities with the majority.

Just last year, Macron founded (or had founded for him) his political movement entitled “En marche!” (Let’s go!) characterized by meetings with young groupies wearing Macron t-shirts. In three months he felt the call to lead the nation and announced his candidacy for President.

Many personalities are jumping the marooned Socialist ship and going over to Macron, whose strong political resemblance to Hillary Clinton suggests that his is the way to create a French Democratic Party on the U.S. model. Hillary may have lost but she remains the NATOland favorite. And indeed, U.S. media coverage confirms this notion. A glance at the ecstatic puff piece by Robert Zaretsky in Foreign Policy magazine hailing “the English-speaking, German-loving, French politician Europe has been waiting for” leaves no doubt that Macron is the darling of the trans-Atlantic globalizing elite.

At this moment, Macron is second only to Marine LePen in the polls, which also show him defeating her by a landslide in the final round. However, his carefully manufactured appeal is vulnerable to greater public information about his close ties to the economic elite.

Blame the Russians

For that eventuality, there is a preventive strike, imported directly from the United States. It’s the fault of the Russians!

What have the Russians done that is so terrible? Mainly, they have made it clear that they have a preference for friends rather than enemies as heads of foreign governments. Nothing so extraordinary about that. Russian news media criticize, or interview people who criticize, candidates hostile to Moscow. Nothing extraordinary about that either.

As an example of this shocking interference, which allegedly threatens to undermine the French Republic and Western values, the Russian news agency Sputnik interviewed a Republican member of the French parliament, Nicolas Dhuicq, who dared say that Macron might be “an agent of the American financial system”. That is pretty obvious. But the resulting outcry skipped over that detail to accuse Russian state media of “starting to circulate rumors that Macron had a gay extramarital affair” (The EU Observer, February 13, 2017). In fact this alleged “sexual slur” had been circulating primarily in gay circles in Paris, for whom the scandal, if any, is not Macron’s alleged sexual orientation but the fact that he denies it. The former mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe, was openly gay, Marine Le Pen’s second in command Florian Philippot is gay, in France being gay is no big deal.

Macron is supported by a “very wealthy gay lobby”, Dhuicq is quoted as saying. Everyone knows who that is: Pierre Bergé, the rich and influential business manager of Yves Saint Laurent, personification of radical chic, who strongly supports surrogate gestation, which is indeed a controversial issue in France, the real controversy underlying the failed opposition to gay marriage.

The Deep State rises to the surface

The amazing adoption in France of the American anti-Russian campaign is indicative of a titanic struggle for control of the narrative – the version of international reality consumed by the masses of people who have no means to undertake their own investigations. Control of the narrative is the critical core of what Washington describes as its “soft power”. The hard power can wage wars and overthrow governments. The soft power explains to bystanders why that was the right thing to do. The United States can get away with literally everything so long as it can tell the story to its own advantage, without the risk of being credibly contradicted. Concerning sensitive points in the world, whether Iraq, or Libya, or Ukraine, control of the narrative is basically exercised by the partnership between intelligence agencies and the media. Intelligence services write the story, and the mass corporate media tell it.

Together, the anonymous sources of the “deep state” and the mass corporate media have become accustomed to controlling the narrative told to the public. They don’t want to give that power up. And they certainly don’t want to see it challenged by outsiders – notably by Russian media that tell a different story.

That is one reason for the extraordinary campaign going on to denounce Russian and other alternative media as sources of “false news”, in order to discredit rival sources. The very existence of the Russian international television news channel RT aroused immediate hostility: how dare the Russians intrude on our version of reality! How dare they have their own point of view! Hillary Clinton warned against RT when she was Secretary of State and her successor John Kerry denounced it as a “propaganda bullhorn”. What we say is truth, what they say can only be propaganda.

The denunciation of Russian media and alleged Russian “interference in our elections” is a major invention of the Clinton campaign, which has gone on to infect public discourse in Western Europe. This accusation is a very obvious example of double standards, or projection, since U.S. spying on everybody, including it allies, and interference in foreign elections are notorious.

The campaign denouncing “fake news” originating in Moscow is in full swing in both France and Germany as elections approach. It is this accusation that is the functional interference in the campaign, not Russian media. The accusation that Marine Le Pen is “the candidate of Moscow” is not only meant to work against her, but is also preparation for the efforts to instigate some variety of “color revolution” should she happen to win the May 7 election. CIA interference in foreign elections is far from limited to contentious news reports.

In the absence of any genuine Russian threat to Europe, claims that Russian media are “interfering in our democracy” serve to brand Russia as an aggressive enemy and thereby justify the huge NATO military buildup in Northeastern Europe, which is reviving German militarism and directing national wealth into the arms industry.

In some ways, the French election is an extension of the American one, where the deep state lost its preferred candidate, but not its power. The same forces are at work here, backing Macron as the French Hillary, but ready to stigmatize any opponent as a tool of Moscow.

What has been happening over the past months has confirmed the existence of a Deep State that is not only national but trans-Atlantic, aspiring to be global. The anti-Russian campaign is a revelation. It reveals to many people that there really is a Deep State, a trans-Atlantic orchestra that plays the same tune without any visible conductor. The term “Deep State” is suddenly popping up even in mainstream discourse, as a reality than cannot be denied, even if it is hard to define precisely. Instead of the Military Industrial Complex, we should perhaps call it the Military Industrial Intelligence Military Media Complex, or MIIMMC.  Its power is enormous, but acknowledging that it exists is the first step toward working to free ourselves from its grip.

Diana Johnstone is the author of Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions. Her new book is Queen of Chaos: the Misadventures of Hillary Clinton. She can be reached at diana.johnstone@wanadoo.fr

February 18, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

French Fury Explodes with Echoes of 1968

By Finian CUNNINGHAM – Strategic Culture Foundation – 26.03.2016

Riot police clashing with striking workers, students shutting down universities, teargas and cars torched in the streets – the mayhem this past week in France evoked memories of 1968, the tumultuous year when mass protests threatened to overthrow a French government back then.

The public fury last week in France boiled over into ugly scenes in several cities, with protests spreading across the country, fanning out from the capital Paris. The French public are furious. And they have right to be.

The uproar mounting over several months now is due to the government’s plan to overhaul the country’s comprehensive labor laws. The essential thrust is to re-write the laws in order to make private businesses and companies hire more workers – by making it easier for them to fire workers!

If that sounds contradictory, then it is a fitting epitome of this French government. President Francois Hollande and his ruling Socialist Party led by Prime Minister Manuel Valls claim, at the risk of sounding tautologous, to be «socialists».

Yet the supposed socialist government is embarking on a ruthless project to smash workers’ rights on behalf of capitalist enterprise.

This week premier Valls presented his so-called labor «reforms» to business representatives and to France’s powerful trade unions. Neither were pleased, with the business groups scoffing that the government had caved into public protests over their much-touted reforms, while unions claimed the proposed changes were still an unacceptable assault on workers.

Students and workers are now pushing ahead with even bigger protests, with more nationwide demonstrations reportedly planned over the coming weeks. It appears that Valls’ government has ignited a firestorm that it can no longer douse.

Valls’ economy minister, Emmanuel Macron, is the personification of the French government’s widely perceived betrayal, in the eyes of ordinary Socialist Party members and the wider public. Reports describe the 38-year-old rising star as being seen as «toxic» by many ordinary French. Macron is a former investment banker who worked at Rothschild before being drafted into government. Yes, that’s right, an investment banker for one of the world’s major capitalist enterprises is given the portfolio of economy minister in an avowedly socialist government. Eh, conflict of interest comes to mind.

It has been Macron’s ministerial brief to push through «business-friendly reforms». Speaking at the Davos summit earlier this year – the annual confab for global capitalists – Macron told his audience that France’s «bloated» labor laws would be stripped. He particularly mocked the country’s statutory limit of a 35-hour working week, vowing that company management would henceforth be allowed to set their own limits.

Macron has also talked about smashing other «glass ceilings», such as relatively strict rules against firing workers and onerous financial compensation for employees who claim they have been unfairly dismissed by bosses. Another target for Macron is to do away with collective bargaining by trade unions, and to permit firms to negotiate terms of pay and conditions with individual workers.

From the capitalists’ point of view – and evidently it is a view shared by premier Valls and his economy minister – the root problem for France’s sluggish growth and high unemployment is that workers have too many rights. By making it easier for private companies to fire workers or make their employees clock up longer hours – so the argument goes – the bosses will be inclined to take on more staff, which it is assumed will result in higher macroeconomic growth for the country.

France wants to follow the Anglo-American model. Britain and the US appear to have better economic performances than France and lower official unemployment rates. The US jobless rate is reported at around 5 per cent, whereas the French unemployment figure is 10 per cent, with the rate rising among youth to 25 per cent. But in Britain and the US, workers are notoriously stressed from much longer working weeks up to 48-60 hours. They also suffer from so-called «in-work poverty» from being underpaid, with less legal protections against hire-and-fire bosses and «zero-hours contracts».

In other words, Britain and the US are more nakedly capitalist models where workers are mere profit-making inputs to be cast aside when no longer required. Britain and the US may be sought after as destinations for unemployed migrants who are desperate for any form of income. But that is no endorsement from a humane viewpoint.

What we have here are fundamental questions of ideology and morality. Are workers and the rights they have won over centuries of labor struggles to be discarded like human chattel?

Compared with the Anglo-American model, France’s relatively more civilized culture for workers should be seen as a virtue to be staunchly defended, not sacrificed on the altar of insatiable profit-making.

Another fundamental ideological difference is that the French government is following the official British and American prejudice that scapegoats workers for low economic growth. In this logic, economic growth can only be revived by making workers toil harder and longer. The more insecure the workers are made to feel, then the harder they will work and the more bosses’ profits will be boosted.

This is a fallacious – not to say immoral – way of looking at contemporary economic conditions. Since the global economic crash in 2008, what needs to be understood is that the problem of low growth in France, Europe, and even the seemingly better UK and US, is not really an issue of worker productivity. It is a much bigger question about a fundamental, historic breakdown in the capitalist system. This is reflected in the record level of inequality between a tiny elite and the vast majority of society. Chronic poverty and austerity wages are why consumption and growth have become stagnant. The systematic injustice needs to abolished, not appeased.

The French government, as in so many other Western countries, has become nothing more than a lobby for the capitalists and their financial oligarchy. Bailouts for the bankers and bosses, but buckets of misery for the masses. What governments should be doing is defending the rights of the vast majority and pushing an agenda that radically redistributes justice in the form of much higher taxes on corporations and the rich, while bringing banks under public control. In a word, socialism is required, not more draconian capitalism.

It looks like the French population at large have finally run out of tolerance for the pseudo-socialists ruling in Paris. Shamelessly, this government is attacking basic rights and mocking touchstones of civility, such as a cap of 35 working hours per week. It truly is Orwellian when such a basic benchmark of human decency is blithely despised by those who claim to be «serving the people».

In a more rational society why shouldn’t workers’ hours be reduced to 25 hours and let the firms take on more staff to maintain output. Oh, it reduces profits and rich dividends for directors, they might say? Well, too bad, let the exploiters take a cut. Better still, let workers and the public take ownership of companies and banks.

One irony in French politics is that Manuel Valls and his de facto capitalist administration have become hysterical about the popular rise of Marine Le Pen’s National Front. Valls and others on the pseudo left deprecate Le Pen’s party as racist, extremist and even fascist. It is arguable that the National Front has gained popular support, as with other similar parties across Europe, precisely because of increasing economic insecurity among workers and society generally. That insecurity, in turn, feeds into anti-immigrant hostility among some sections who see their livelihoods threatened by foreigners.

Ironically, perhaps the biggest recruiting agency for the National Front in France is the pseudo-socialist government of Manuel Valls and his president Francois Hollande. These charlatans are not only attacking workers on behalf of private profit, they are fueling social strife, breakdown, hatred, xenophobia and, in its worst manifestation, fascism.

The danger of a fascist state is not hyperbole. France’s emergency laws deployed since the terror attacks last November in Paris forbid all public demonstrations – in the interest of «national security». As public protests over the coming weeks rightly and legitimately challenge the reactionary French government’s attack on workers, it is only a matter of time before riot-police squads begin to implement mass detention of these same demonstrators, under the pretext that they are threatening national security.

That raises a grim and not inconceivable scenario. French workers and students clubbed off the streets by armed police and thrown into prison without due legal process. Because they oppose an authoritarian government shredding their legal rights? No wonder echoes of 1968 are in the French air.

March 26, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics | , , | 1 Comment