From Paris to London: Another City, Another Attack with Elements from «ISIS» Playbook

Patrick Cockburn

In the immediate aftermath of what police are describing as a terrorist incident in and around Parliament, at least three facts stand out suggesting that the attacks are similar to those carried out over the last two years by “ISIS” supporters in Paris, Nice, Brussels and Berlin.

UK's Big Ben

The similarities with the events today are in the targets of the attacks which in all cases were ordinary civilians, but the means of trying to cause mass casualties differs. In Nice, Berlin and London no fire arms were used by the attackers, while in Paris and Brussels there was a coordinated assault in which guns and explosives were employed.

In Nice on 14 July 2016 a truck killed 86 people and injured hundreds, driving at speed through crowds watching a firework display on the Promenade des Anglais until the driver was shot dead by police. “ISIS” claimed that he was answering their “calls to target citizens of coalition nations that fight ‘ISIS'”. Britain is a member of the coalition with aircraft and Special Forces troops in action against “ISIS” in Iraq and Syria.

“ISIS” claimed responsibility for a lorry which drove into a Christmas market in 19 December 2016, killing 12 and injuring dozens. As with Nice, this appears to resemble what happened on Westminster Bridge, going by first reports.

The overall location of the attacks today may be significant and would fit in with the way that “ISIS” normally operates when carrying out such atrocities. This is to act in the center of capital cities or in large provincial ones in order to ensure 24/7 publicity and maximize the effectiveness of the incident as a demonstration of “ISIS’s” continuing reach and ability to project fear far from its rapidly shrinking core areas in Syria and Iraq.

“ISIS” is sophisticated enough to know that such attacks carried out in news hubs like London or Paris will serve their purposes best. In cases of attack with a knife or a vehicle then “ISIS” would not need to provide more than motivation, though individuals seldom turn out to have acted alone. It may no longer have cells in Europe capable of obtaining fire arms or making bombs.

It could be that the attacks were carried out by another group, the most obvious candidate being one of the affiliates of al-Qaeda in Yemen. Syria or elsewhere. On 11 March 2017 Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian affiliate of al-Qaeda, carried out two bombing attacks in Damascus, killing 59 people, mostly Shia pilgrims from Iraq visiting holy sites. But the Syrian arm of al-Qaeda, while carrying out suicide bombings against targets in Syria, has previously avoided doing so abroad in order to make itself more diplomatically palatable than “ISIS”.

Could the attacks on Westminster Bridge and in Parliament be linked to the siege of Mosul where “ISIS” has lost the east of the city and half the west since an Iraqi army offensive started o n17 October? “ISIS” has traditionally tried to offset defeats on the battlefield, by terrorist attacks aimed civilians that show they are still very much a force to be feared. The same logic led to the ritual decapitation, drowning and burning of foreign journalists and domestic opponents.

The most likely speculation at this early stage is that the attacks in London are inspired or directed by “ISIS”, but there is too little evidence to make the connection with any certainty. “ISIS” often holds off claiming such atrocities for several days to increase speculation and intensify terror.

Source: Independent, Edited by website team

23-03-2017 | 11:22

EU to offer 2-speed solution too late to stop French election

March 17, 2017

by Ramin MazaheriEU to offer 2-speed solution too late to stop French election

Keep asking the fundamental question: Has the European Union brought the prosperity and security it promised?

No.

Then that will always be a perfectly valid reason for exiting.

Because it hasn’t brought prosperity and security, can the European Union be reformed?

I have said “no” for years, but it’s been a month of historic changes in Europe, with more to come.

After years of rejecting such an idea, Europe’s leaders are expected to unveil a new plan for a “two-speed” European Union – where countries can choose their level of involvement – on March 25th, the 60th anniversary of the EU.

This is a rather shocking about-face, but will it save the Union?

Let’s be honest: The EU is nearly 60 and the bloom is off the rose, especially if she cuts her hair any shorter.

The timing is clear: France’s anti-Euroeverything Marine Le Pen seems assured of making it to the 2ndround presidential vote 8 weeks from now.

Le Pen has promised a Frexit vote this year if elected? Yes, she’s still losing in the 2nd round of all polls, but it has been a year of upsetting the political establishment: Cameron, Renzi, Hollande, Sarkozy, Clinton, etc.

My question is: Why not earlier, Brussels?

Yes, all governments move slowly, but the Brexit vote was last year.

A year ago is also when the uber-neoliberal International Monetary Fund admitted that austerity policies don’t work, which is something proven by the fact that they have never worked anywhere in recorded human history.

If Brussels thinks this can be a game changer in the French election, it may be too late.

That will all depend on if the EU/mainstream media’s preferred candidate – neoliberal globalist Emmanuel Macron – picks up the ball and runs with it or not.

But how can an unprecedented plan to unify a continent work if Brussels is always behind the curve, instead of setting it? The European Union is a revolutionary idea, but it bypassed the formation of a revolutionary leadership class and went straight to a middling, self-protective, corrupt bureaucratic guardianship.

Monday morning quarterbacking aside, 2 historic events just occurred

First, on March 1st European Commission President and Luxembourgeois Jean-Claude Juncker unveiled a White Paper on the future of the EU. He described five different scenarios about what the EU could be like in 2025.

Juncker clearly doesn’t have much faith in the future of the EU because, à la Francois Hollande, he won’t be seeking a 2nd term in 2019. Heck, he may even quit this month.

Hardly an inspiring leader who can unify a bloc, eh? Castro, he ain’t! Juncker’s (non) leadership is only inspiring to Eurosceptics.

The five options were presented to give the impression of democratic choice. Had they presented just one option…well, that would have been straightforward – and a bureaucratic class always rely on obfuscation to maintain power.

Hidden and middling to the maximum – at number 3 – among outgoing president Juncker’s five different plans was a two-speed Europe.

We aren’t going to waste time with the other four, because a two-speed Europe is the only one that really matters.

It is already a fact that it’s the only one that really matters because this week the heads of Germany, France, Italy and Spain met in Paris and said this is what they will push for.

This is a veritable political earthquake, even if people don’t realize it yet. It’s also an overturning of years of explicitly rejecting such changes.

But after Brexit the EU knows they have a problem, and that changes must be made.

Waitaminut: Yer telling me the EU is actually gonna change?

Is there any chance any major changes – such as a two-speed Europe – will be implemented, and quickly?

That depends – do you mean “democratically implemented”?

Firstly, let’s recall that a lack of democratic approval has never stopped the EU before: 8 times since 1992 national referendums have rejected key aspects of the EU, only to be totally and undemocratically ignored or subverted.

Amazing how such facts of history get ignored by the rabidly pro-EU supporters….

What would “democratically implemented” actually look like?

Well, European PMs are up for re-election in 2019. To give any changes the democratic approval they certainly require, EU leaders would need to decide, agree and campaign on the proposed changes well before this next legislative vote. That would give the public the chance to give their say – via vote – on the new changes.

But democratically proposing, debating and voting on structural changes to the EU’s political foundations by 2019?

It’s not impossible, but that’s still a very ambitious goal.

It would be ambitious of any single nation to hold a referendum on radically altering its very political structure.

But we are not talking about a single nation – we are talking about 28 of them. Well, 27 after Brexit.

More importantly, I have repeatedly stated that the EU is structurally incapable of reform because any major change requires the unanimous approval of all 27 members. Getting just 27 people to agree on anything is an arduous process, much less 27 nations.

Case in point: On Friday the EU was stymied in their effort get Poland’s Donald Tusk’s re-elected as president of the European Council. One country voted against him, so the body was nearly brought to a halt.

The dissenting country? Poland.

Noble Poland! Free Poland! Partitioned…Poland.

Why? Because there is both intense Euroscepticism in Poland, and also intense pro-EU sentiment…and this is the same everywhere. It’s complicated and emotional.

Perhaps EU “founders” realized this by installing this principle of unanimity, one which was likely taken from…Poland again!

The “liberum veto” was used during the era of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, a dominant and important (if unfairly ignored) European power. The veto was a major democratic advancement against absolute monarchy, and the PLC produced just the 2nd codified constitution in modern history, after the US.

When all the nobles were truly noble and in agreement, the unanimity principle worked out fine and the union peaked in the early 17th century. But when some aristocrats were bought off by foreign powers…proceedings could easily come to a dead halt and thus stagnation set in.

And then partition. And more partition.

In the case of Tusk, the liberum veto principle was not technically in play, but it had been common precedent for the council president to be elected unanimously.

Furthermore, Poland persuasively argued that the EU had no right to elect Tusk as their president when he was not even backed by his home country, LOL!

No matter – the EU ignored Poland’s claim for sovereignty over their own officials and re-elected Tusk anyway.

Poland expected the unanimity principle to be followed, but it wasn’t technically enshrined in this case, and so the bureaucrats got their way.

A new precedent has also been set: The EU can apparently dragoon anyone they want into power.

However, it is still this liberum veto system which ultimately defines the political structure of the European Union and which will make any change – two, three, 18-speed – seemingly impossible to democratically implement.

News flash: A multi-speed Europe is already legal, so they don’t need democracy

EU rules already permit groups of at least nine member states to pursue “enhanced cooperation”.

Barring a major earthquake that brings the EU to a halt – like a Frexit – the bureaucrats already have all the tools at their disposal to enforce the will of the elites. They don’t need any “referendum” – they’ll say “the rules for a multi-speed Europe have already been democratically approved” (except when they were rejected).

The basis of a multi-speed Europe is already permitted, it’s going to happen with or without a vote, and you can check the Rome Summit on March 25 to find that out for sure.

That’s the reality.

I predict they will use this rationale to create a two-speed Europe, regardless of the democratic preference of over 500 million people. Perhaps they will put it to a vote…in which case March 25th will announce the start of that campaign, and this is all we’ll be talking about for 2 years.

But I am Eurosceptical because the EU, and especially the Eurozone, was never a very democratic project. The EU is, fundamentally, a bureaucrat and lobby-dominated institution, after all – it was never truly revolutionary.

So what is a multi-speed Europe? We do have to move on….

A multi-speed Europe is basically a “coalition of the willing” – countries can join or not join multinational policies on economic growth, border protection, common defense, tax systems and others as they wish.

That’s the positive spin on it.

The negative spin is: This allows Western Europe to integrate at an even more breakneck pace, which is something many Western Europeans already do not want (see, “Brexit”).

Secondly, I hardly doubt the 27 nations of the EU will be democratically consulting their citizens for each and every multinational policy they join. The EU’s policies of economic austerity have been rammed through over the will of their people, so why will the future be any different?

Thirdly, a multi-speed Europe is already deeply opposed by many members in Central/Eastern Europe, who see themselves as being left out. Opposition to this plan was a major reason why Poland refused to vote in favor of native son Tusk.

Is a multi-speed Europe a good idea?

The existential crisis of the EU has always boiled down to this: Should there be “more Europe” or “less Europe”?

Clearly, changes are needed, because countries which have followed EU and Eurozone dictates have gone into a prolonged crisis.

EU economic growth since 2010 is just 1.3%, which is below the 1.5% required to start producing jobs. And this is me being charitable: I’m ignoring the -4.4% growth of 2009.

The best gauge of economic policies is how long and how deep an economic downturn lasts, as capitalism guarantees there will definitely be downturns, after all. For an alternative system, please check the stable long-term growth rates of communist behemoths like China as well as international blockade victims like Cuba.

The need to end the EU’s economic woes is immediate and clear.

Also clear is that there are huge economic divergences between EU countries – standard of living, borrowing rates, economic output, etc.

The EU was supposed to end this divergence. It was going to bring prosperity and stability, remember?

But capitalists never waste a good crisis and the 2009 European Sovereign Debt Crisis will go down in history as the time when the EU stopped working and started dying.

It is now abundantly clear that the economic solidarity which would be required from the richer nations of the EU to make “more Europe” work…simply does not exist.

Germany, France and the Netherlands only had the stomach to economically gut and destroy weaker nations like Greece and Portugal.

The rich nations got what they wanted – ports, airports, water departments, laws favoring their own industries against local industries – and now they want to take their money and leave “more Europe” behind.

Thus we will have “multiple speed” Europe on the table for the first time ever.

A “multiple-speed Europe” could indeed be a great option – it recognizes the fact that the required economic solidarity does not exist amid economically divergent countries.

The best option would be for Germany to leave, as many economists suggest – their economy is too strong and it upsets the entire balance. This is quite logical, if you think about it. You never read about that, though.

Germany can take their stupid, economically-blind, false-morality ideology of “We refuse to recognize that for us to export means someone has to import, and thus imbalances are required to exist, ” and not come back, as far as the rest of Europe is concerned.

Germany wants to stay in because neoliberal plundering is very profitable, after all.

Or countries like Greece could leave and start choosing their own economic policies to benefit their own citizens instead of French and German bankers.

They could drop out of the Euro and re-adopt the drachma, allowing them to set their own exchange rates, pay off their debt (read: interest on debt) and regain economic competitiveness.

But there are no guarantees on what a “multiple speed” Europe will actually look like, however….

Two-speed Europe will be “Rich Eurozone, poor everyone else”

It seems difficult to believe that high finance won’t win the day, as this is Europe and it is capitalist.

Therefore, the dividing line is likely to be set by Eurozone members banding together to form the top speed.

This why I don’t see “multiple speed” Europe being decided in March, or implemented by 2019, because the EU/Eurozone has to punish the hell out of Britain for Brexit.

That is a serious job!

Brexit is expected to be formally trigged this week (March 15), which means it’s not until 2019 that France and Germany can prove to Greece, Portugal and anyone else thinking of existing just how costly it will be to quit the club. If “multiple speed EU” is decided before Britain pays, we should see a rash of Euro exits.

And doesn’t France and Germany want to intimidate anyone from exiting? Doesn’t France and Germany want the neoliberal looting of poor countries to continue ?

Because there’s money still to be had! Smaller native industries to be bankrupted! Key infrastructure to be privatized! What kind of a half-hearted bust-out scheme are they running?!

Did they grow a conscience, maybe?

Well, I don’t think like a capitalist, so maybe I’m not seeing the bigger picture.

However, the Eurozone-speed group will almost certainly put up tariffs against the non-Eurozone speed members, and the latter will lose time after time.

How can they compete economically in a two-speed system when they were already behind during the time of single-EU unity?

The countries which didn’t adopt the Euro will band together, and you’ll basically have Western Europe versus Central Europe, economically. Capitalism is “the biggest corporation wins, not the best”, of course, and Western Europe has many more huge corporations set to dominate.

Also, the EU is currently in a crisis – why would the weaker EU countries even want to renegotiate the structure of the EU right now?

They are worse off than anyone else in the bloc, so they have even less pull than usual, therefore the solution can only entrench the current state of increased inequality.

So, given that it looks so bad for the lower gear of 2-speed Europe, why will Central Europe even stay in the European Union? They won’t, and the EU will ultimately disintegrate.

This is exactly what the Visegrad Group – Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – said in a response to Juncker’s proposal.

This is the path I foresee for the EU: Slow, painful, and the current winners will remain winners because that’s capitalism, which lacks the multinational solidarity of communism.

Frankly, Central Europe would do much better to join up with Russia, Iran and China and become the easternmost point of China’s “One Belt, One Road” program, which is going to be the new McDonald’s.

Another option: A zero-speed Europe

Why go through this slow, painful, inevitable process I just described?

There is another option: a zero-speed Europe.

That is what will happen if Marine Le Pen wins (though I prefer Jean-Luc Melenchon, of course), as France has historically been the biggest advocate of a unified Europe – lose France, and Europe goes down.

Why choose an inherently elitist 2-speed solution – how is entrenching inequality any form of progress?

The EU would do better to bring a total halt to the project in order to debate and make totally new changes. A “2nd Federal Republic of Europe” or something like that. It should be communist, of course.

The biggest obstacle is changing the idea that a total halt is equivalent to death.

This is true firstly on the most-simple literal level: pro-EU propagandists say that the death of the European Union means the return of European war.

This type of logic is not logic at all, as it based on the ultimate fear: massive death. We deserve better than that; we should think more of ourselves than that.

So why must a halt to the European Union mean the end of the concept of a united Europe?

Is THIS version of a united Europe the only possible version?

Must it continue because it has lasted 60 years and it must last another 60, or another 160?

A resounding “No” is the only logical answer to all of these. There IS an alternative.

Monetary systems and political unions come and go, and this crazy blue marble keeps on spinning, and mankind keeps advancing in knowledge just the same.

If the system is not working, why not replace it? Why try to patch up a clearly-flawed system?

The world has changed drastically in the last 30 years, the rise of computers and digital finance being two sweeping societal changes – why not start fresh with a new system that confines the vast powers of these two behemoths? That’s just a start.

Must we continue with the new lack of limits on the spying powers of national governments? With the neoliberal ideas that have gutted European industry and its social safety net?

The European Union can be entirely remade – that IS a real alternative.

It would be a true revolution which sweeps away a dead, undemocratic and structurally unworkable version.

Detractors will say that there is not a clear plan, but neither is there a clear plan for this version of the EU’s future!

The difference is: we are actually talking about and working on the latter instead of the former. This is the same rationale intelligently used by environmentalists: “Well of course renewable energies aren’t as good as nuclear, oil or coal yet – we put all of our funding and R&D into those three options!”

The European Union can, should and must be reborn if it is going to start ending economic inequality and start promoting true unity, solidarity and mutually-beneficial cooperation.

A new European Union must reject what has clearly failed and what has been rejected: neoliberalism and capitalism.

A return to socialism is the only logical choice – history’s pendulum can only swing this way for Europe.

People need to grasp – and they don’t, and the mainstream media purposely obscures it – just how far to the right we currently are economically: Neoliberalism, European austerity, Trump’s domestic economic agenda – we cannot get much more unregulated and thus more unequal.

But working within the current structure of the EU is not going to work.

No one knows what a “multi-speed Europe” option will even look like, but for many it seems like: institutionalized 2nd-class citizenry for Central Europe; the cementing of the neo-imperial looting of countries like Greece; the cementing of right-wing roll backs to social rights and living standards in countries like France.

It’s been a historic fortnight. In another fortnight we’ll see what the aristocratic leaders of the European Union actually propose. On March 25th “two-speed Europe” is going to get very real!

More interestingly and more importantly, we’ll see what democratic votes in France and the Netherlands produce. In an intelligent world it would be more communism, but sometimes people just have to hit bottom before they turn themselves around.

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television.

Double Standards over ‘Russian Interference’ in Western Elections

Double Standards over ‘Russian Interference’ in Western Elections

FINIAN CUNNINGHAM | 23.02.2017 | OPINION

Double Standards over ‘Russian Interference’ in Western Elections

Just as polls show Marine Le Pen of the Front National taking a decisive lead over her two main rivals, Francois Fillon of the Republicans, and Emmanuel Macron of the newly formed En Marche, the latter gets a high-profile reception in Downing Street with British prime minister Theresa May.

Fillon has no plans to make a similar visit to Britain, while Downing Street officially announced that it would not be receiving Le Pen, reported the Independent.

With only weeks to go to the first round of the French presidential elections in April, the British government’s hosting of Macron this week can be seen as an extraordinary endorsement of his candidacy.

One could express it even more strongly and say that Britain is evidently interfering in the French democratic process by elevating one candidate over another.

A spokesman for premier May said that Macron had requested the meeting at Downing Street and «we were able to accommodate».

A smiling Macron photographed on the doorsteps of Number 10 clearly showed him relishing the singular honor bestowed by the British prime minister.

One can imagine the media hullabaloo if Marine Le Pen were greeted in Moscow by Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the Kremlin to then pointedly announce that her rival Macron would not be receiving a similar invitation. There would be howls of «Russian interference» in the French election.

Indeed, Russia is being accused of doing just that already on the basis of scant allegations. Emmanuel Macron has recently claimed that his campaign is being targeted by Russian hackers and «fake news». Macron’s campaign team is alleging – without providing any evidence – that its computers are being attacked by «Russian hackers».

The liberal pro-EU candidate is also claiming that «Kremlin-run news media» are mounting a fake news «influence campaign» to damage his credibility.

This follows the publication of a news article by the Sputnik outlet earlier this month which quoted French political rivals accusing Macron of being supported by global banking interests and a wealthy gay rights lobby.

Russian government-owned Sputnik has denied that it is trying to damage Macron’s candidacy, and that it was merely giving coverage to criticisms aired by French political rivals.

Based on such flimsy, partisan claims of political interference, the French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault earlier this week issued a warning to Russia to «stop meddling in the French presidential election».

Thus, a one-sided overblown claim by one of the presidential candidates is raised to a state level as if it is an established fact of Russian subversion of French sovereignty.

This narrative of Russian interference in foreign elections has evidently become contagious. Ever since American intelligence agencies, amplified by US media, began accusing Russia of hacking into the presidential elections to favor Donald Trump, the narrative has become a staple in other Western states.

Last week, German news outlet Deutsche Welle published this headline: «Is Moscow meddling in everything?» The article goes on to ask with insinuating tone: «Does Putin decide who wins elections in the West? Many believe that he cost Clinton the US presidency; now Macron is next France, and then Merkel will be in the line of fire».

The Russian government is legitimately entitled, as are other governments, to hold views on the outcome of foreign elections. After all, many European governments, including those of Germany and France, were adamantly opposed to Trump winning the US election, instead preferring his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. But they weren’t subjected to criticism that they were interfering in the American election.

Regarding France, Russian state interests might be best served by Marine Le Pen taking the presidency. She has expressed a desire to restore friendlier relations with Moscow and to jettison the NATO agenda of hostility towards Russia. Her anti-EU views would also help to undermine the Washington-led atlanticist axis which has driven enmity between Europe and Russia.

The Kremlin has been careful to not make any public statements on the outcome of the French election, nor of any other foreign election, maintaining that it does not interfere. Nevertheless, Moscow is entitled to have its own private assessment on what would serve its own national interests. There’s nothing untoward about that. It seems almost bizarre to have to explain that.

But such is the fever-pitch and hysteria about alleged Russian malfeasance that the slightest sign, such as a random news article airing critical comments as in the Macron example, is taken as «proof» of Kremlin interference.

This is in spite of the fact that no evidence is presented. German state intelligence, for instance, recently concluded that there was no evidence to support allegations that Russia was running a Trump-like influence campaign against Chancellor Merkel ahead of her country’s elections being held in September.

Perhaps the most egregious expression to date of the Russian interference narrative were claims made this week by Britain’s Telegraph newspaper that the Kremlin had sponsored a coup attempt against the government of Montenegro last October.

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov lambasted the evidence-free claims as «absurd». Lavrov said it «is just another one in a series of groundless assertions blaming our country for carrying out cyberattacks against the entire West, interfering in election campaigns in the bulk of Western countries as well as allegations pointing to the Trump administration’s ties with Russian secret services, among other things».

The height of absurdity is Britain this week hosting Emmanuel Macron at the Downing Street residence of Prime Minister Theresa May.

May’s intervention is a full-on endorsement of this one candidate at a crucial time in the French election which sees his main rival Marine Le Pen taking a decisive lead in the polls.

But where are the headlines denouncing «British interference» in French democracy?

Western media are too preoccupied digging up far-fetched stories claiming Russian interference based on the flimsiest speculation.

That double standard is clear evidence of the irrational Russophobia that is gripping Western governments and news media. Russophobia that has become a psychosis.

French presidential hopeful expresses her support for Assad

French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has expressed her pro-Syria and pro-Christian views on her recent visit to Lebanon on Monday.

The head of the National Front called Syrian President Bashar Assad “the most reassuring solution for France” and emphasized that to “eradicate” ISIS is the best way to protect the Christian minority, not turning them into refugees.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri was told from the presidential hopeful that there is “no viable and workable solution” to the Syrian war beyond choosing between Assad and ISIS.

“I clearly explained that in the political picture the least bad option is the politically realistic. It appears that Bashar al Assad is evidently today the most reassuring solution for France.”

“The way to protect the Christian minority is to eradicate those who have a vision of destroying all the minorities.”

“For me to protect Christians is to make sure the Christians stay in their countries,” not become refugees, she said.

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

Elections présidentielles 2017 France-1

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 into 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 that 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.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/10/emmanuel-macron-france-president 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 Policymagazine 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 Media Intelligence Complex, or MIMIC.  Its power is enormous, but acknowledging that it exists is the first step toward working to free ourselves from its grip.

 

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 into 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 that 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.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/10/emmanuel-macron-france-president 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 Policymagazine 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 Media Intelligence Complex, or MIMIC.  Its power is enormous, but acknowledging that it exists is the first step toward working to free ourselves from its grip.

 

I have links to Russia!

 photo russlinks_zpspkcqfpof.jpg

One wonders: what exactly does it mean to have “links” to Russia? Does a phone conversation qualify? Maybe, simply watching an RT video will get you so labeled. I guess if you’re not getting your news principally from CNN or the Washington Post then surely you must be a brainwashed dupe–one deserving of pity and who is, of course, in dire need of reeducation. Or maybe even, in the deranged minds of Trump haters, simply listening to Tchaikovsky will get you branded a Russky sympathizer. If this is the case, then I plead guilty. I have Russian “links”!

Israel seems on its way to outlawing Wagner. Maybe we’ll ban Tchaikovsky here in America. At any rate, we seem to have entered a new McCarthy era here in the US. Or perhaps more precisely we might think of it as a reverse McCarthy era. This time the witch hunts are being waged by liberals; this time the smears and false accusations are devices  employed by the left rather than the political right.

***

Trump’s National Security Adviser Forced to Resign After Lying About Being a KGB Agent

By Rudy Panko | Russia Insider

We’ve really hit rock bottom, folks.

Links?

As NBC reports, Flynn “misled Vice President Mike Pence and other senior officials about his communications with Sergei Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States.”

This is what qualifies as having “links” to Russia? A telephone conversation? We thought that a major part of being in government was “talking with people”?

Oh, but this saga of espionage and intrigue just gets better.

Our friends at NBC News claim that Flynn was forced to resign after it was learned that “the Justice Department [had] informed the White House that it believed he could be subject to blackmail”.

That’s the opening line. If you have the patience to read ten more paragraphs, you learn this:

A senior intelligence official confirmed to NBC News last week that Flynn discussed the sanctions, which the Obama administration imposed to punish Russia for its campaign to interfere in the presidential election.

The intelligence official said there had been no finding inside the government that Flynn did anything illegal.

A senior official told NBC News on Monday night the president and his top advisers had been “agonizing” over what to do about Flynn for days. The official, who was involved in the discussions, says the situation became unsustainable — not because of any issue of being compromised by Russia — but because he had lied to the president and the vice president.

So Flynn did nothing illegal. There are no “links” with Russia. He just lied to the President about a telephone call. (He probably didn’t, actually, but was forced to “take a bullet for the team.” Because apparently the media and half of America will not tolerate telephone conversations with Russians. The horror!)

Thank God we caught this KGB sleeper agent before it was too late!

Who will be exposed next? Maxine Waters?

Mother Russia is waiting for you, Comrade Flynn! It’s time to come home.


The 1812 Overture was composed by Tchaikovsky to celebrate Russia’s victory over France in 1812. Let’s keep in mind it was Napoleon who invaded Russia, not the other way around. In Russia the war is referred to as “The Patriotic War of 1812.”

Historical account of the war:

Napoleon hoped to compel Tsar Alexander I of Russia to cease trading with British merchants through proxies in an effort to pressure the United Kingdom to sue for peace.[10] The official political aim of the campaign was to liberate Poland from the threat of Russia. Napoleon named the campaign the Second Polish War to gain favor with the Poles and provide a political pretext for his actions.[11]

The Grande Armée was a very large force, numbering 680,000 soldiers (including 300,000 of French departments). Through a series of long marches Napoleon pushed the army rapidly through Western Russia in an attempt to bring the Russian army to battle, winning a number of minor engagements and a major battle at Smolensk in August. Napoleon hoped the battle would mean an end of the march into Russia, but the Russian army slipped away from the engagement and continued to retreat into Russia, while leaving Smolensk to burn.[12] Plans Napoleon had made to quarter at Smolensk were abandoned, and he pressed his army on after the Russians.[13]

As the Russian army fell back, Cossacks were given the task of burning villages, towns and crops.[10] This was intended to deny the invaders the option of living off the land. These scorched-earth tactics greatly surprised and disturbed the French, as the willingness of the Russians to destroy their own territory and harm their own people was difficult for the French to comprehend.[14] The actions forced the French to rely on a supply system that was incapable of feeding the large army in the field. Starvation and privation compelled French soldiers to leave their camps at night in search of food. These men were frequently confronted by parties of Cossacks, who captured or killed them.

The Russian army retreated into Russia for almost three months. The continual retreat and the loss of lands to the French upset the Russian nobility. They pressured Alexander I to relieve the commander of the Russian army, Field Marshal Barclay. Alexander I complied, appointing an old veteran, Prince Mikhail Kutuzov, to take over command of the army. However, for two more weeks Kutuzov continued to retreat as his predecessor had done.

On 7 September, the French caught up with the Russian army which had dug itself in on hillsides before a small town called Borodino, seventy miles west of Moscow. The battle that followed was the largest and bloodiest single-day action of the Napoleonic Wars, involving more than 250,000 soldiers and resulting in 70,000 casualties. The French gained a tactical victory, but at the cost of 49 general officers and thousands of men. The Russian army was able to extricate itself and withdrew the following day, leaving the French without the decisive victory Napoleon sought.[15]

Napoleon entered Moscow a week later. In another turn of events the French found puzzling, there was no delegation to meet the Emperor. The Russians had evacuated the city, and the city’s governor, Count Fyodor Rostopchin, ordered several strategic points in Moscow set ablaze.[16] Napoleon’s hopes had been set upon a victorious end to his campaign, but victory in the field did not yield him victory in the war. The loss of Moscow did not compel Alexander I to sue for peace, and both sides were aware that Napoleon’s position grew worse with each passing day. Napoleon stayed on in Moscow looking to negotiate a peace, his hopes fed in part by a disinformation campaign informing the Emperor of supposed discontent and fading morale in the Russian camp. After staying a month Napoleon moved his army out southwest toward Kaluga, where Kutuzov was encamped with the Russian army.

The French advance toward Kaluga was checked by a Russian corps. Napoleon tried once more to engage the Russian army for a decisive action at the Battle of Maloyaroslavets. Despite holding a superior position, the Russians retreated following a sharp engagement, confirming that the Russians would not commit themselves to a pitched battle.[17] His troops exhausted, with few rations, no winter clothing, and his remaining horses in poor condition, Napoleon was forced to retreat. He hoped to reach supplies at Smolensk and later at Vilnius. In the weeks that followed the Grande Armée starved and suffered from the onset of the Russian Winter. Lack of food and fodder for the horses, hypothermia from the bitter cold and persistent attacks upon isolated troops from Russian peasants and Cossacks led to great losses in men, and a general loss of discipline and cohesion in the army. When the remnants of Napoleon’s army crossed the Berezina River in November, only 27,000 effective soldiers remained; the Grand Armée had lost some 380,000 men dead and 100,000 captured.

One can’t help wondering if NATO troops may end up meeting the same fate.

France directly liable for killings in Syria: President Assad

France directly liable for killings in Syria: President Assad

Press TV – February 17, 2017

President Bashar al-Assad says France’s support for terrorist groups operating against the Syrian government and people is a direct cause of bloodshed in the Arab country.

“The policy of France, that started from day one, has been to support terrorists in Syria, and is responsible directly for the killings in our country,” Assad told TF1 and Europe 1, respectively a French channel and a French radio network.

Assad further said his remarks were not a mere accusation as French officials have on numerous occasions admitted that they are supporting militants in Syria.

“They said many times they supported the war,” said the Syrian leader. “They said that they send armaments to whom they call moderate groups, which are terrorists. They said that; I didn’t say it. The Americans said the same, the French said the same.”

Read more:

The Syrian head of state further cast doubt on the sincerity of Western states in their approach towards the crisis in Syria.

“We have to be cautious with every Western leader because they can say something and do the opposite… do something in the morning and do the opposite in the evening…They don’t have values in their policies,” he added.

File photo of a militant from a foreign-backed group taking part in military training in Syria

Assad said the fate of the Syrian people is not for the West to determine.

“My people have to choose, because this is a Syrian issue, to be frank with you,” he said.

“So, we don’t care about what the Western officials think about this. They have to worry about their people and to protect their people from the terrorist attacks that have been happening because of their policies.”

The foreign-backed violence in Syria has unleashed an influx of refugees toward Europe. The inrush has put the continent on alert against potential entry of terrorists and arms smugglers among asylum seekers.

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