Ramin Mazaheri interviewed by Sputnik about the “Yellow Vests” and Macron

February 05, 2019

Ramin Mazaheri interviewed by Sputnik about the “Yellow Vests” and Macron

Macron Won’t Put Question of Resignation Up for French Referendum – Journo

You can listen to the full audio of the interview here:

The first referendum in 14 years could take place in France in May as part of President Emmanuel Macron’s response to the ongoing series of weekend ‘yellow vests’ protests. The newspaper Journal du Dimanche reported that Macron was planning to organise the vote on the same day as European parliament elections: on May 26th.

According to the publication, one of the questions the French would be asked is whether they want to reduce the number of national lawmakers — a campaign pledge by Macron, as well as whether they favour imposing term-limits on legislators.

Radio Sputnik discussed the possibility of France holding its first referendum in 14 years with Ramin Mazaheri, PressTV’s Chief Correspondent in Paris.

Sputnik: What do we know about this proposed referendum and how likely is it to happen in your opinion?

Ramin Mazaheri: The Yellow Vests have no clear programme; there are literally dozens and dozens of demands which are associated with them and the reason that there are so many demands is because France has submitted to the dictates of Brussels for eight years and they have embraced far-right economic austerity, and austerity has totally created a lost decade of economic growth, high employment and suppressed wages, and reduce government services. So, you know, we should see why the Yellow vests have so very many demands. Austerity accumulates; it’s been eight years, so you always have to keep that in mind.

French President Emmanuel Macron attends the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina. November 30, 2018

But the idea of more referendums, that this something that truly has risen to the top of the list of their demands… why is that? It’s because in the past decade, it has become painfully clear to the French that their politicians just don’t care a bit for the popular will. Macron, you know, he’s totally done away with the false promises of his predecessor, Francois Hollande, because he openly says he doesn’t care about public opinion at all. He says that public opinion will not affect his policy decisions whatsoever. This is obviously contrary to the modern idea of democracy. So this new demand for a referendum has to be viewed as a reaction to the dominance of the French elites in policy-making. The French people want more power in policy-making.

We have to keep in mind that out of all of the Western governments, the presidency of France has the most power, and we have to combine this reality with another one, that Macron has more power than any [French] president in recent memory, and that’s because he has an absolute majority in Parliament and because he also has total control over his own party, which is full of political novices, they owe their entire careers completely to Macron.

Macron is known for ruling like a Roman God, Jupiter; he’s also known as the president of the rich. So a referendum would reinject democracy into France’s Fifth Republic, that’s the background for this demand for the referendum. The French want direct democracy because their elected leaders, in their indirect democracy, they’re not only not succeeding, they’re not even listening to public opinion. There hasn’t been a referendum in France in 14 years, not since 2005, and French voters then rejected the Lisbon Treaty on the European Union Constitution, and what happened? The vote was totally ignored. So it’s important to keep in mind that Many Yellow vests view a referendum as some sort of cure-all for the French democracy. History proves that that’s not necessarily the case in France. The only country which seems to have incorporated referendums in an effective manner is Switzerland, and France clearly wants to emulate their neighbour in this respect, but these are two very different countries with very different political systems, so it’s not really that simple.

Macron has stated that the idea of a referendum is being discussed, it will be held on the same day as EU elections, but it’s not a done deal. I would say that a referendum is likely to happen because it’s avery attention grabbing way for Macron to say, “Look, I’m not ruling like Jupiter, I am being democratic.” However it’s something which, depending on the issues which are being voted on, this is something which could have very little political risk for Macron.

Sputnik: Let’s talk in greater detail about these issues that could be deliberated?

Ramin Mazaheri: Well that’s really the key question here, right? I mean, if you listen to the Yellow Vests, the most popular question would be: Should President Macron resign? But I think we can all agree that there is no way that Macron is going to put that question up for referendum. It’s really very ironic that Macron, I’m sure he’s going to refuse the hold new elections, because that is exactly what he ordered Venezuela to do. Macron and other EU leaders, they gave Venezuelan leader Nicholas Maduro just eight days to hold new elections or they will recognize someone else, someone who’s never received a presidential vote, as Venezuela’s new president, so it’s really a case of hypocrisy from France, but that is nothing new at all.

French 'red scarves' (foulards rouges), critics of violent 'yellow vest' (Gilets Jaunes) protests demonstrate in Paris on January 27, 2019.

So what the government is proposing right now about the referendum is to have just one question and that’s to ask voters if they want to reduce the number of parliamentarians and limit the number of terms they may serve. I think that all of our listeners will immediately grasp that this is not a major interest for the Yellow Vests. It will not affect their purchasing power, it will not touch austerity, and we should see that this is really quite a neoliberal idea once again, because it’s a way to reduce the size of France’s government. So we see that Macron is actually trying to use the referendum, and it’s not decided yet, this is what he’s floating in the media, to push the very same neoliberal agenda. He’s not talking about putting up ideas which the average French person cares about, so it’s really a tone deaf move if he goes forward with just this one question, and France’s politicians have said exactly that. They’ve said that if this is the only question on the referendum, it’s going to be a total failure. Reducing the number of legislators actually is one of Macron’s campaign pledges, so it’s amazing that despite his massive unpopularity and the massive protests that have really undermined his international image, he’s on the precipice of sticking with pursuing his very, very unpopular political agenda.

Sputnik: What the Yellow Vests envisioned for a referendum is obviously going to be quite different. They want questions on a number of socioeconomic issues.

Ramin Mazaheri: You know, for example, Macron has rushed through many, many sweeping reforms which are so very unpopular and all of which are designed to make France more in line with the American system, the English system, the German system, and what is on the docket for this year is major right-wing roll-backs to the unemployment system and the social security system. So the Yellow Vests, they would want ideally those types of issues to be on the referendum, to really talk about public policy and the policies that really affect the average French person, the average French household, the pensioner, everybody.

The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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The Return of Louis XVI: Emmanuel Macron, Roi de L’Ancien Regime

The Return of Louis XVI: Emmanuel Macron, Roi de L’Ancien Regime

MARTIN SIEFF | 29.12.2018 | WORLD / EUROPE

The Return of Louis XVI: Emmanuel Macron, Roi de L’Ancien Regime

It is easy to imagine ridiculous young President Emmanuel Macron of France as his fellow-free trading liberal King Louis XVI. Macron’s extraordinary pretensions to “dignity” and being a “king” far from elevating him have stripped him of all the bogus credibility that the corrupt, servile and stupid mainstream media of Europe and the United States tried to give him.

Far from raising the embattled Fifth Republic to new heights of achievement and success, it is already clear that Le Jeune Macron is destroying it. The contrast with the founder of the Republic, the great and truly regal Charles de Gaulle could not be greater.

The 1.96 meters tall De Gaulle towered over his nation in many ways. Twice he was his country’s literal savior: First as the leader of the Free French Resistance against the Nazis and as President of France from 1944 to 1946. And then returning to power in 1958, De Gaulle saved his nation from disintegration and civil war.

He ended the long ferocious conflict in Algeria, survived at least six assassination plots on his life and rebuilt his nation into the most powerful and prosperous state in Western Europe. He also defied the United States repeatedly, courageously criticized US conduct of the Vietnam War and built a lasting relationship of friendship and understanding with the Soviet Union.

Macron is physically not a small man, standing at 1.78 meters: He only acts and looks that way. Only a year into office, it is now irreversibly clear that young Macron is fated to make a mockery of every great achievement of De Gaulle, Le Vieux, including the Fifth Republic itself.

Ridiculous young Macron has inflicted ruinous new hardships on the long-suffering French people in the name of his global financial masters. He has loyally proved to be Washington’s poodle in petty-minded and destructive attempts to impose yet more economic sanctions on Russia.

Far from withdrawing France from needless ruinous wars in the Arab and Muslim worlds as Le Grand Charles did in Algeria, Macron continues to eagerly support and promote the disastrous Western interventions in Syria and Libya.

The true parallel to Macron is not De Gaulle, who restored the wealth, stability, dignity and pride of his nation but of the hapless, witless, very internationalist and liberal King Louis XVI, last monarch of L’Ancien Regime.

Like Macron Louis was an eager, arrogant and idiotic young technocrat. Like Macron, he was an internationalist revolutionary and a free trader. He supported the American colonies in their successful revolution against the British Empire.

It never occurred to Louis, just as it never occurred to Macron, or his predecessors Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande that supporting revolutionary wars thousands of miles away could ever come back to haunt them at home. But that is exactly what happened. The collapse of ordered societies in Syria and Libya unleashed of millions of immigrants into France and other European nations with dire social consequences.

Louis suffered “blowback” too. American revolutionary Benjamin Franklin set up underground societies in France that within a decade toppled the most powerful kingdom in Europe.

Far from being the reactionary he has been caricatured as for more than 200 years, King Louis was one of the leading fashionable liberals and technocrats of his time. He especially revered English free-market economist Adam Smith, whose book “The Wealth of Nations” was published in 1776 (the same year as the American Revolution). So only a decade later, Louis fatefully signed his own 1786 Eden Free Trade Treaty with neighboring Britain.

As I noted in my own 2012 economic history “That Should Still Be Us”, the treaty proved to be a catastrophe: Cheap industrialized goods from the more advanced British economy flooded into France while the British cannily retained barriers of their own against French agricultural and other exports.

The French economy collapsed. Millions of people were thrown out of work. They and their families starved. Within three years the Great Revolution had exploded and the monarchy was toppled.

Louis, like Macron today, was convinced his advanced economic theories were more important than petty human suffering. It took the French Revolution and the loss, first of his crown and then of his own head to teach him otherwise.

Like Louis, Macron has shown no understanding or sympathy for the sufferings of ordinary people crushed beneath his absurd, unnecessary policies. Like Louis, his mask of liberalism and civilized compassion vanished as soon as his own people dared to disagree with him. Like Louis his only answer now is repression. Like Louis, he does not have a clue.

The Yellow Vest protestors are not going away. The French people are heartedly sick and tired of the 50- percent real unemployment, wide open immigration borders, slashed welfare programs and breakdown of law and order that Macron and the European Union elite has foisted on them., The Latest French Revolution is not over: it is only beginning.

Macron has ignored the ominous lessons of history. Now he is doomed to repeat them.

Photo: Flickr

Who does Emmanuel Macron owe?

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Emmanuel Macron did not feel destined for a career in politics. As a young man, he hoped to become a philosopher, then a senior civil servant, then a business banker. To help him on his way, he frequented Uncle Sam’s fairy godmothers – the French-American Foundation and the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

It was in this milieu that he met Henry and Marie-Josée Kravis, in their residence on Park Avenue in New York [1]. The Kravis couple, unfailing supporters of the US Republican Party, are among the great world fortunes who play politics out of sight of the Press. Their company, KKR, like Blackstone and the Carlyle Group, is one of the world’s major investment funds.

« Emmanuel’s curiosity for the ’can-do attitude’ was fascinating – the capacity to tell yourself that you can do anything you set your mind to. He had a thirst for knowledge and a desire to understand how things work, but without imitating or copying anyone. In this, he remained entirely French », declares Marie-Josée Drouin (Mrs. Kravis) today [2].

Bearing the double recommendation of the Kravis couple and Jean-Pierre Jouyet [3], he integrated the closed circle of François Hollande’s campaign team. In an e-mail addressed to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Director of political planning Jake Sullivan named the four principal members of the Socialist candidate’s campaign team, including the unknown Emmanuel Macron. He specified that Macron would probably become the Director General of the Treasury (« the top civil servant at the Finance Ministry ») [4].

However, when François Hollande was elected, Emmanuel Macron became the assistant General Secretary of the Elysée, a more political function. It seems that he had ambitions to succeed Jean-Pierre Jouyet as Director of the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (the Deposits and Consignments Fund), a post which was entrusted in May 2014 to the General Secretary of the Elysée. A few days later, proposed by the Kravis couple, he was invited to the Bilderberg Club, where he delivered a violent intervention in perfect English against his boss, François Hollande. When he returned to Paris, he resigned from Hollande’s cabinet.

The Kravis couple are among the main pillars of the Bilderberg Club, which is administered by Marie-Josée Drouin-Kravis. Contrary to a commonly-held belief, the Bilderberg is not a place where decisions are made. Its archives attest to the fact that it was created by the CIA and MI6, then became an organ of influence for NATO, which directly looks after its security [5]. Since Macron’s intervention had been well received, he became one of NATO’s men in France.

Having left politics, he had no desire to return. He explained to his entourage on a number of occasions that he wanted to become a university professor. With the help of essayist Alain Minc (admitted to the Bilderberg Club in 2008), he obtained a post at the university of Berlin and another at the London School of Economics, but was unable to find a place at Harvard.

However, in August 2014, three months after having « left politics », and on a proposition by Jean-Pierre Jouyet (admitted in 2009 to the Bilderberg Club), he was named by François Hollande as Minister of the Economy, Industry and Digital Technology.

In a book published in 2018, François Hollande assured that this choice had been his idea [6]. That may be, but would suppose that he had not been informed about Macron’s intervention at the Bilderberg meeting – although one of his Ministers and close friend Fleur Pélerin had also been present.

In December 2014, Henry Kravis created his own Intelligence agency, the KKR Global Institute. He nominated at its head the ex-Director of the CIA, General David Petraeus. With the Kravis couple’s private funds (the KKR investment funds), and without referring to Congress, Petraeus pursued operation « Timber Sycamore » which had been initiated by President Barack Obama. This was the largest weapons traffic in History, implicating at least 17 states and representing many thousands of tons of weapons worth several billion dollars [7]. As such, Kravis and Petraeus became the main suppliers for Daesh [8].

The French President of Bilderberg, Henri de Castries, invited the Deputy Mayor of Le Havre, Edouard Philippe, to the annual meeting, which on this occasion was held in June 2015 in Austria. Philippe was to be re-invited in May 2016, this time in Germany. During the presidential campaign in France, both Henri de Castries and Edouard Philippe supported François Fillon, but dropped him as soon as Jean-Pierre Jouyet [9] handed the Canard Enchaîné the financial documents collected by the Inspectorate of Finances concerning the suspicious employment of Madame Fillon [10]. They then joined Emmanuel Macron’s camp.

In April 2016, Emmanuel Macron founded his political formation En Marche!, whose marketing strategy was copied from that of Kadima (Forward!), Ariel Sharon’s pretended non-right, non-left party. As for Macron’s programme, it was built on the notes of the OCDE [11] and those of the Institut Montaigne, of which Henri de Castries was president. In fact, En Marche! was created in the offices of the Institut. But Castries fooled Fillon into believing that this was pure coincidence , and that he did not support Macron. He continued for months telling Fillon that he was ready to become his Prime Minister.

Initially, the financing of En Marche! was not supervised. It was a simple association which was allowed to receive gifts from abroad. The names of the sponsors were not revealed to the Tax Office. Arch-billionaire Henry Kravis was one of them.

During his campaign, Emmanuel Macron regularly met with the ex-President of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn (« DSK »). These workshop meetings were denied until they were revealed by Le Parisien, much later, when his reputation as a sexual pervert had died down. DSK (admitted to the Bilderberg Club in 2000) brought both the support of senior government officials and that of French company management – the sociological alliance which had supported the collaborationist régime of Philippe Petain and reformed again in the 1980’s around the Fondation Saint-Simon.

In June 2018, the Minister for Youth and National Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer, was invited on the proposition of Henri de Castries to the annual meeting of the Bilderberg Club, which was held this time in Italy. This lawyer, a specialist in Constitutional law, has always linked political science and education. He was one of the three central directors of the Ministry for Education, then director of the prestigious Ecole Supérieure des Sciences Economiques et Commerciales (ESSEC). He has known Castries for many years, frequenting him at the Institut Montaigne.

When the Yellow Vests crisis began in France [12], it quickly became evident that this was a profound problem which could only be resolved by addressing the question of global finance, which President Macron can not do. During his electoral campaign, he surprised sponsors at a dinner in New York by making accusations against the financialisation of the economy. It was no more than electoral rhetoric. He was taken to task by the Mr. and Mrs. Kravis – financialisation is the system that enables them to operate the « leveraged buy-outs », which have made them what they are.

Faced with the Yellow Vest movement, President Macron will have to sacrifice his Prime Minister as an expiatory victim during the next elections (the European elections of May 2019, which will certainly be lost). But apart from the fact that he has to hang on for five more months, who is there to replace him? When you owe the financing of your electoral campaign and the choice of your Prime Minister to NATO, it is unthinkable to replace him without first referring to the Alliance. The ideal candidate for the job would therefore be Jean-Michel Blanquer.

Translation
Pete Kimberley

[1] This meeting probably took place in 2007. Thereafter, Emmanuel Macron systematically visited the Kravis couple whenever he was in the USA, and Henry Kravis welcomed him in his offices on Avenue Montaigne when he visited Paris.

[2] «Quand Emmanuel Macron découvrait l’Amérique à 29 ans», François Clemenceau, Le Journal du Dimanche, 22 avril 2018.

[3] Jean-Pierre Jouyet is a personal friend of François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy. He directed the General Inspectorate of Finances from 2005 to 2007. He was then Emmanuel Macron’s hierarchical superior.

[4] «Hollande Team», e-mail by Jake Sullivan, May 10, 2012. Source : Wikileaks.

[5] “What you don’t know about the Bilderberg-Group”, by Thierry Meyssan, Komsomolskaïa Pravda (Russia) , Voltaire Network, 9 May 2011.

[6Les leçons du pouvoir, François Hollande, Stock, 2018.

[7] “Billions of dollars’ worth of arms against Syria”, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Pete Kimberley, Voltaire Network, 18 July 2017.

[8] “Seize the transnational corporations to rebuild Syria?”, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Pete Kimberley, Voltaire Network, 14 August 2018.

[9] Jean-Pierre Jouyet remained friends with Henri de Castries at the end of their studies at the Ecole Nationale d’Administration (ENA, Promotion Voltaire). It was there that they met François Hollande.

[10] Contrary to the official version, the information published by the Canard Enchaîné was not the fruit of a journalistic investigation. The entire dossier was handed in one delivery to the weekly newspaper by Jean-Pierre Jouyet, in violation of financial secrets.

[11] The Organisation de Cooperation et de Développement Economiques (OCDE) is one of the two organisms born of the Marshall Plan. The other is NATO.

[12] “How the West eats its children”, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Pete Kimberley, Voltaire Network, 4 December 2018.

France’s Yellow Vests: It’s just 1 protest…which has lasted 8 years

December 07, 2018

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker BlogFrance’s Yellow Vests: It’s just 1 protest…which has lasted 8 years

The most important thing to understand about France’s Yellow Vest movement is that the Mainstream Media wants you to view it as an isolated incident which exists in a vacuum, when we are much better served to look at in a continuum.

When the Yellow Vests started I was not foolish to say: “So what?”

After all, the Yellow Vest movement is dwarfed by France’s first major anti-austerity protests in the fall of 2010. When Nicolas Sarkozy backtracked on a promise to raise the retirement age France saw 7 marches in 8 weeks with (conservatively) 1.5 million marchers each time. Over just one week there were three different marches with perhaps 3 million people! The three Yellow Vest marches – and all are on Saturdays, to make it easier for people to attend – only reached 300,000 demonstrators one time. So we’re talking 10 times smaller than in 2010 per protest, and something like 30 times smaller if we compare the two movements overall.

Unsurprisingly, I have yet to read of this “ancient history” in any of the Anglophone Mainstream Media coverage of the Yellow Vests. It’s “vacuum versus continuum” in terms of journalistic approach.

I summarise the “continuum” approach in an original saying about journalism (at least I think it’s original): “A journalist without experience is just somebody with a notepad and a pen.”

Some Mainstream journalist who doesn’t know about 2010 – do they really grasp what the Yellow Vests are about? Because the Yellow Vests were definitely there back in 2010…but they remained in the car (Reflective yellow vests in your car are required by French law: in case you get a flat tire or something, you have the vest to put on for safety from oncoming traffic.).

So, if we believe the living-in-a-vacuum Mainstream Media then the Yellow Vest protests are finished: President Emmanuel Macron just canceled the diesel tax hikes. The protests are no longer necessary, right?

Wrong.

There is no reason why AFP, AP, Reuters and everybody else spent all that time saying “diesel tax, diesel tax, diesel tax” other than: they are either purposely misleading people by viewing the diesel tax in total isolation from previous policies, or they are a bunch of inexperienced newbies, or they just want to be proven right for repeatedly making this absurd diesel tax claim. My point: it’s all bad journalism.

Second-most important thing to realize about austerity: it has accumulated

I hear and read stories about the French in 2018 similar to what I used to read about Greece in 2012 – because austerity is cumulative.

It is not just one tax / measure / policy / reform: it is all of them combined. And we are talking about 8 years’ worth.

“Ramin, you are usually awfully long-winded. Do you get paid by the word? Even in your funny columns, you could use an editor. Just explain what you mean about this in real-world terms!”

Fine – hear ya go:

French inflation, according to my calculations, has increased by 14% since 2008: therefore, people have effectively taken a 14% wage cut in 10 years. This helps explain why “decreased purchasing power” has been the number one concern of the French year after year after year.

Salaries in France are already low to start with:1,700 euros is the median net salary, which is far lower than Anglo-US-Germanic countries.

Ok, so you have a lousy salary to start with, which has lost 14% of its value in the last decade. But inflation is not caused by the policy of neoliberal / trickle-down / austerity economics, of course.

But France does have austerity, so 14% is not the only reduction: we must account for the impact on salaries of 8 years of cuts to social services, because a key plank of austerity is reducing the size of the government. This means YOU foot the bill for many services the government used to totally provide or subsidise.

So let’s say, conservatively, because it really depends on the size of your family and what their needs are, that this has effectively lowered your yearly salary 5% overall during the Age of Austerity. Your salary is now actually worth about 20% less than in 2008.

Now let’s add in the new taxes imposed by austerity, because austerity means that the French state taxes workers and not capital, and more than ever. Did you expect that high finance would pay for their failed bets? Ha ha, you are funny – you probably say things like “France is socialist”, too. For example: two years ago they increased my council tax (the annual tax I pay for renting an apartment, so that I avoid things like getting rained on and assault-while-sleeping) by 60%. I don’t know how that’s legal or morally defensible, and I was enraged, but how could I stop them? It went from to €1,285 in 2016 to €2,134 in 2017.

So let’s say, conservatively, that the increased taxes imposed by austerity have taken just 5% of your salary over the last 10 years: your salary is now down 25% from 2008.

Of course, losing 25% of your wages in 10 years is no problem IF your wages have increased 25%.

In 2008 the government claimed the median salary was €1,580 per month for a full-time worker. In 2015, which is this year’s data from the government (why are they so behind schedule, probably because austerity means firing/not replacing government workers), the median salary was €1,692. This means that the median salary has only increased 7%.

So we can conservatively estimate that the median citizen has lost 18% of their salary in real terms since 2008, all thanks to following austerity economics.

For people making €1,700 per month in 2018…losing €306 per month is a huge, huge problem. For childless, former Rothschild bankers who married elderly chocolate heiresses/statutory rapists…€306 only means skimping on the wine tonight.

But wait, it’s worse!

Not only has austerity taken this huge cut out of your already-meagre salary, they have made it significantly more likely that you will lose your poorly-paying job due to long-standing, near-record unemployment levels in France.

This pressure exists because another plank of austerity is the reduction of and/or the refusal to spend government money on job-creating infrastructure PLUS the insistence on giving tax breaks to corporations and businessmen WITH zero strings attached (such as the promise of jobs).

And, the coup de grace, austerity means reduced safety conditions, making firing easier and loosening oversight rules – as a way to encourage hiring – so your poor-paying job is even more disagreeable.

And who has arrived on the scene immune to these pressures, and thus just oozing life, but “old Mackie” Emmanuel Macron. Well, when the shark bites with his teeth, babe, and the scarlet billows start to spread – Mackie’s got them fancy gloves, so there’s never a trace of red. Never a trace of policy-sweat, either: he controls his brand-new political party, which has an absolute majority in Parliament. France is Macron’s little austerity laboratory, and he doesn’t care about public opinion and nor does he have to.

So the “real-world terms” in France are: major cuts in take home pay, combined with job insecurity, combined with a mad neoliberal scientist who doesn’t believe he was elected to reflect the popular will but to rule as he technocratically thinks best.

Can you hear the Mainstream Media shouting to drown me out: “The problem is just the diesel tax, just the diesel tax I tell ya!

Let’s be real journalists and do the math, and give the context, and recount the history

Want me to quickly debunk Macron’s rationale for the diesel tax, which is dutifully placed at the top of every Mainstream Media report?

France’s auto industry made a failed bet on diesel in the 1980s. Result: a whopping 80% of French passenger cars now run on diesel. Pretty clear why the diesel tax is so widely unpopular, no?

Diesel is dirtier than regular gas, but has always been cheaper – until old Mackie came along. But Macron’s “this tax is needed to pay for a necessary ecological transition” is pure bull: Instead of taxing stockholders, corporations and car dealership owners for this failed bet (i.e., the ones who profited) Macron is capitalistically taxing labor (workers, households). There are myriad other ways to make the necessary auto-ecological transition than taxing the average person…but not in capitalism.

People think France is “socialist” because they have a great social safety net, but it remains a capitalist country because they tax labor and not the 1% / management to pay for this safety net. That is the reason the median salary is so low compared with other Western nations. The diesel tax is not the only example of this – ALL French taxes are: It’s so bad that in 2018 all the wages of the average French worker from January 1 until July 27 went to the taxman, to give some real-world context. (In Iran, being so heavily socialist-inspired, 50% of the population pays zero taxes, including every farmer – the money comes from oil revenue (socialistically state-owned) and businesses.)

That’s some context for the latest austerity measure – the diesel tax -which is no different from a banker bailout because Macron wanted to capitalistically make the average person pay for the failures of high finance / alleged technocrats / the rich bosses once again.

But what about the many austerity measures which preceded this one? That laundry list is long and stinking, but I’ll make it brief because I think it matters:

The first austerity cuts were rushed through in 2011, with 2012 serving as France’s first official austerity budget. The reason: the confidence fairy” and France’s AAA bond rating. Did the People want them? Sarkozy became the first French president not to be re-elected in 30 years.

I remember when Francois “The Ultimate Patsy” Hollande came along in 2012. He was a formerly-fat, witty, jovial, (alleged) Everyman from rural France. Surely HE would understand the popular will and do what he promised: break with the Austerity Party line enforced by Brussels, as his campaign was built around a promise to renegotiate the Orwellian-named EU Stability and Growth Pact. I really can’t express how high optimism was in May 2012 – evil Sarkozyites were traitors, and France was truly going to lead a Latin Bloc La Résistance against the arrogant Germans, Dutch and usurious Northern bankers.

Instead, Hollande broke the Socialist Party.

He backtracked on ending austerity on November 6, 2012, by announcing another round of it, and which contained basically all the neoliberal, economically-regressive measures proposed by Sarkozy during the presidential campaign. It was Obama turning into Dubya Bush à la française. The very next day Hollande announced the approval of a draft law to legalise gay marriage and adoption. Funny how I never read about this connection in the Mainstream Media, ever, even though it was a simply atrocious act of societal and political manipulation of the media agenda. That alone was enough to turn many French off of politics for years.

Yellow Vests were thus diverted to enormous anti-gay rights marches, instead of being at anti-austerity marches, but the vests still remained in the car.

How much time do you have to discuss incredibly repressive anti-government protests during the Hollande era? How about after the State of Emergency was imposed? How about the “France has free speech except for pro-Palestinians, whose marches we ban”? What about the 2014 months of protests, led by the rail workers – I dutifully filled up my car with gas (it’s such a fancy car that I was able to buy it entirely with €1 and €2 coins, LOL) in order to help provoke fuel shortages, which have only just barely begun in the current, far-weaker iteration of fuel depot blockades. What about the 2016 Labor Code reforms, when it was all-out war on Hollande?

I never did discover a Western presidential incumbent who was so unpopular that he couldn’t even run for re-election. Feel free to finally provide me with an answer to that trivia question, because for now Hollande is that punchline to that joke.

But Hollande sure did punch – protesters, that is. I don’t know what NGOs are doing but it’s not compiling this data, so off the top of my head – and after asking other journalists – I would estimate that at least 15-20,000 citizens were arrested at anti-government protests during the Hollande era, with 20-30,000 hurt (and truly countless tear-gassed and harassed by cops). Hey, you had 4,000 protesters taken to court by the government during the 2016 protests alone – how many got arrested but were not given court cases? And how many more would have been arrested had not over 600 demonstrations been banned by “liberté-loving” France during the 2-year State of Emergency, with countless others strangled in the cradle? The anal rape of a young Black man by cops with their truncheon in 2017 isn’t necessarily economic austerity-related, but it is evidence of emboldened state repression: my headline sums up the Hollande era when it comes to “Frnce’s love for freedom of assembly”: Cop violence at Paris demo against cop violence.

And how much time do you have to discuss incredibly repressive anti-government protests during 18 months of Macron? The labor code part 2 reform, the rail reform, the education reform, hospital reform, normalization of the state of emergency reform – all have been met with majority-opposition from the People and the same state violence.

So when 400 people got arrested and over 130 anti-government protesters were hurt at the Arc de Triomphe protests last week – this is not seriously different from many other violent protests over the past 8 years!

I admit, I have never seen the Arc de Triomphe tagged with graffiti, but that’s the only real novelty – the violence is totally de rigeur in French political life and anyone who says otherwise is either ignorant or a liar.

Or they are hypocrites, because violence against anti-government protesters is apparently ok…in Western countries. Since 2011 I have been saying on PressTV: “If this was Iran, Cuba, China or Venezuela the West would be calling for a humanitarian intervention to save the people from such anti-democratic aggression.”

I eventually stopped saying it – I just got tired of it, ya know? Rather, the West’s hypocrisy just got acceptable. Terrible journalism on my part.

I guess I also stopped being upset over people getting hurt at demonstrations for the same reason – it became mundane, normal. More bad journalism – and bad humanity, and bad citizenship – on my part.

However, I didn’t do what the Anglophone media simply loves to do: I never blamed French protesters for the violence. My God, the Anglophones and their “Keep calm and carry on” worship of law and order at all they costs…what a bunch of sheep, eh? They wouldn’t revolt under any circumstances, I’d say.

Of course, unlike those idiot commentators I have been at innumerable violent protests and choked down litres of tear gas. Fact one: if the cops fail to stop violence it is the fault of the cops, as that is their primary job. Fact two: if the government provokes violent protests, it is the fault of the government, as it is their job to promote policies which do not inspire citizen rebellion. Fact three: France’s armed-to-the-teeth riot police are inherently provoking to the increasingly-poor and increasingly-repressed Frenchmen who come to protest the government and not to get intimidated by it, so their whole plan is designed to fail…and purposely – we talk about the violence and not the reasons nor the past. More “politics in a vacuum and not a continuum”.

Future of Yellow Vests – going on vacation, I’m betting

Of course the Yellow Vesters are going on vacation shortly – it’s December 6. The past 10 years of French history ALWAYS shows that the protesters – no matter how hot, blue and righteous – prefer taking a vacation to sustaining their political momentum. Nothing must stand in the way of several weeks off in December-January and August!

This is, of course, is why they keep losing.

So here’s a real easy test for you to see if the Yellow Vests are different: If the French are seriously protesting on the couple days on either side of Christmas or New Year’s Eve – that would be a revolution in political norms.

But I’ve seen it year after year, so I predict the protests will stop after December 16, and then re-start in January but necessarily weakened. The French sure do make it easy for the politicians they truly despise.

But maybe not so weakened upon restarting….

Beyond the Arc de Triomphe graffiti, I am seeing things I’ve never seen before – like a motorcyclist in rush hour wearing a Yellow Vest with “General Strike – Let’s Stop It All”. Anybody who knows anything knows that a general strike – the only demonstration which actually hurts the pockets of the 1% – is the only way to get any true political change anywhere in the world and at any time (barring outright revolution and rebellion).

Maybe this is the year Santa Claus is not the priority?

People outside of France ask me: will there be a revolution? Here is my stock answer:

No: a huge percentage of French are just as insanely committed and prideful about their outdated, 19th-century based system as the Americans. This is the true legacy of imperialism – unmerited arrogance about your system. Iranians use “arrogance” and “imperialism” interchangeably for very logical and obvious reasons.

But, once again, maybe not so arrogant after 8 years of austerity….

The far-left (true left) and far-right are making unprecedented calls for new elections, for referendums, for things which are rather radical. Let’s not forget that in the 2017 presidential first round vote 19.5% of the electorate voted for Jean-Luc Melenchon (just 2 points less than Marine Le Pen), whose platform included abolishing the 5th Republic. So in France you have an inordinate amount of arrogant jingoists whose parents grew up in French Algeria, but there definitely is a sizeable part of the population which knows things are fundamentally wrong about France’s Liberal-and-not-Socialist Democracy-influenced structure.

And the problem is definitely structural – it is not just the price of diesel.

Any true “Yellow Vest Revolution” would have to include a drastic rewriting of the rules of the European Union and especially the Eurozone, or else a Frexit. Both of those institutions were constructed in the heyday of the fall of the USSR , and thus at a time where socialism was at its absolute nadir. Their birth chart is significant because the two are designed with 1%-safety hatches to escape anything close to true popular democracy. The structure of these two institutions are truly the triumph of “Americanism”, and their neoliberal, self-cannibalizing socio-political thought. Indeed, the US runs on a system inspired by the English, French and Europe, but Continental Europe runs on a system inspired by the US…ironic. And unfortunate.

If the Yellow Vest movement proves to be different it will be largely because of this: they have, and they allow, no leaders or spokespeople. The Prime Minister admitted that he cannot meet with any Yellow Vests, because the ones he arranges to meet with keep getting death threats from fellow Yellow Vesters.

The reason this is so important is: the government cannot co-opt or buy off the movement.

Take French unions for example – there are nine big ones. There was a span lasting from 2010 to 2018 when they didn’t march together once, even though their members all hate austerity. Obviously, they are not united at all. What I have seen year after year in France is: there are anti-austerity strikes and hopes are high…but then the government buys off one or two of the unions with targeted concessions. Those unions say, “We’ve satisfied our members, as is our duty,” and they pull out. Thus, the strikes are now less impactful on the pockets of the 1%, and they are emboldened. Those still striking feel betrayed and see the lack of solidarity, and the strike soon collapses because too many people went back to work. It’s all as easy as pie for the ruling technocrats and 1%, whereas all an increasingly-poor average worker can say each year is: “This time it will be different.” It likely won’t be – French unions have signed off on every major austerity measure, after all.

All of that should go a long way in explaining why socialist countries like Iran, Cuba and China ban independent trade unions – for them the state IS the union.

You can be sure the Yellow Vests are certainly aware of the failure of the philosophy underpinning Western unionism, and thus they are trying to prevent being similarly co-opted or sold out. The death threats and opposition to any leadership are now given context: radicalization and the demand for new methods has accumulated, due to the accumulation of austerity; it is not merely the presence of (politically over-idealistic and step-skipping) French anarchism.

The Yellow Vest Movement also doesn’t even have a program or a list of clear demands which could be satisfied…and I say “right on”.

Their list of demands should be SO long and SO varied that it would take months just to compile it…because their demands are the combined demands of 8 years of anti-austerity protests.

Who are the Yellow Vests, after all? They are all those workers, students, pensioners, teachers, hospital staff, etc. who have been protesting and gotten only tear gas and failure for their efforts. They all have ignored demands which must be addressed, no?

So they don’t need a short & clear program which creates a quite fix because France’s problem is – just like the EU and the Eurozone – structural, cultural and endemic.

Is this a Yellow Vest Cultural Revolution, or just another failed anti-austerity protest?

People will mock me, but something like a Chinese or Iranian Cultural Revolution is clearly needed: several years of shutting down institutions and having major public political discussions in order to have both a huge rethink on societal structures and to get “Rebel Red Guards/Yellow Vests” into local positions of power.

Disagree? Ok, then answer this: How long can this go on?

I don’t mean the Yellow Vest protests – I mean citizen acceptance of anti-democratic austerity. Anything is possible, after all – give me a real figure, please: The Eurozone has had a Lost Decade (which the Mainstream Media never openly admits): will Eurozone citizens tolerate a Lost Score, like the Japanese did?

I say no: Japan is an island, ethnically and culturally homogenous, and they own their debt and cannot be foreclosed on. The Eurozone has none of these advantages.

Here’s another issue I’d like an actual answer on: How long can France have a president and a government which believes public opinion only matters once every five years? One more presidential election? Maybe you believe three more? I admit, anything is possible.

Again, I say no. The Socialist Party is smashed, the mainstream conservative party was routed almost as badly, and Macron’s party – at this rate – will be just a blip in France’s political history books, because they are even less popular than Hollande was at the same point in his term. So who is the party which will be running in 2027? We have no idea in France, much less in 2022.

So when I say that new people in local positions in power are not just needed, that is an understatement: they appear absolutely inevitable.

Another question requiring an actual answer: Where is the political party or grassroots movement which can tangibly implement the Yellow Vests’ will, once that will is known? I am not being obtuse – what is the political pathway for them?

The only alternatives which are not smashed (or soon to be discredited) and still within the realm of possibility are Le Pen and the far-left (real left).

But I don’t think such a Red-Brown alliance can happen in France, however: hatred for the National Front cannot be overestimated, and Le Pen permanently lost many by clowning against Macron in their 2017 debate instead of realising she had a chance to win. Uber-intense anti-Le Pen / Rassemblement National sentiment is the only explanation that France chose a 40-year old Rothschild banker 6 years into austerity. And we can’t overestimate the anti-leftist feeling in France: France neo-imperialist, France capitalist, France Islamophobic, etc. Melenchon came so very close in 2017, but he has the entire media landscape against him, and for many his past as a Socialist Party member until as late as 2008.

Therefore, a real political option – but only by default – is that the Yellow Vests turn into Italy’s Five-Star movement, because they lack any other route to translating their political will, when declared (or if declared, given French anarchism).

But Five-Star took 8 years to coalesce and win power – the Yellow Vests are still in month #1.

However, as my headline notes, this has essentially been the same protest for 8 years, going on 9, so maybe France as a whole is “there”? Maybe the timeline is speeded up in the digital age, too? That’s a significant psychological consideration, but Italy does not give us much hope for 4G political speed in France.

Given the 90,000 cops to be deployed on December 8, it appears that the Yellow Vests are still in “smash” mode, as they should be. Austerity has accumulated after the Great Recession, so there is much to demolish: namely, received wisdoms such as France is democratic, functioning well, rather-socialist, sovereign, etc; there’s also the pan-European ideas (beloved by the French elite) that these new institutions have been beneficial, successful, are the only thing preventing European War III, etc. Lotta nonsense to bring down to earth.

They say we can never predict a revolution, but we do know what precedes successful revolutions: years (if not decades) of nationwide, constant, family-splitting political discussion and involvement combined with drastic measures of self-sacrifice. That was the case in Russia in 1917 and in Iran in 1979 – thus their Revolutions were more aptly-termed bloodless “Celebrations”.

France is a long way from celebrating anything but Christmas, but I can report that all anybody is talking about is the Gilet Jaunes. However, we are truly only on the 6th day of this nationwide ferment, though, so…some perspective.

But, as far as my 2 centimes, I predict they will take Christmas and New Year’s off. And when they come back the same problems will be there. This is a very cynical and depressing point of view – maybe after 10 years here I have become French? – but those are the facts and the historical pattern.

What is also a fact is that the Yellow Vests may or may not change things, but that things in France and the Eurozone simply must change. And they will – someday. See, I’m not that French – I’m optimistic!

And for damn sure I am a Yellow Vest. So is everyone else I’ve talked to, and that means something big…at least for now.

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 Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.

Macron upset that Assad claims France has supported terrorists in Syria (which they have of course)

‘Syrians have one enemy and he is called Bashar Al-Assad’ – Macron

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BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:10 P.M.) – French President Emmanuel Macron called Assad’s comments about France supporting terrorism in Syria ‘unacceptable’, during a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Paris on Tuesday.

“If someone has been fighting and can win the war against Daesh by the end of February, it’s the international coalition”, Macron said.

“These Syrians have one enemy, and he is called Bashar Al-Assad”, he added.

Stoltenberg asserted that “France is also playing a key role in the fight against terrorism.”

“We are now looking into how we can step-up our efforts to train Iraqi forces to help them stabilise their own country” he added.

The French President received NATO’s secretary general at the Elysee Palace, where they discussed security and EU-NATO cooperation.

M/S French President Emmanuel Macron receiving NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at Elysee Palace in Paris

SOT, Jens Stoltenberg, NATO general secretary: “I strongly believe that one of the best weapons we have in the fight against terrorism is to train local forces, is to build local capacity, to enable locale forces to stabilise their own countries. And that is exactly what NATO is doing in Afghanistan, in Iraq and also what we have done before in the Balkans, and as a member of the global coalition to defeat ISIS or Daesh. We are now looking into how we can step-up our efforts to train Iraqi forces to help them stabilise their own country.”

SOT, Jens Stoltenberg, NATO general secretary: “France is also playing a key role in the fight against terrorism you have a significant presence in Sahel and you play a very important role in the Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh in Iraq and Syria.”

SOT, Jens Stoltenberg, NATO general secretary: “As you mentioned, we also addressed NATO-EU cooperation. And I welcome the fact that we were able to lift NATO-EU cooperation up to a new level and that we are working together on many issues, including hybrid, cyber, fighting terrorism and also military mobility.”

 

SOT, Emmanuel Macron, President of France (French): “I do not personally believe that we can build a lasting peace and find a political solution without Syria and the Syrians. I also don’t believe Syria is just (President) Bashar al-Assad. On the military front we have a priority – the war against Daesh (Islamic State). That’s why his (Assad’s) comments were unacceptable. If someone has been fighting and can win the war against Daesh by the end of February, it’s the international coalition. All others have been ambiguous. All others have had (other) priorities, which was targeting political opposition and not the terrorists. We were coherent from the start, we have one enemy, that enemy is Daesh.The Syrian people have an enemy, there are millions of Syrians way from Syria in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, across Europe, in Canada, the United States, these Syrians have one enemy, and he is called Bashar Assad.”

SOT, Emmanuel Macron, President of France (French): “And if we want to build a political peace process that will lead to stability in Syria, we must gather all the different sides around a table and build a transition that will not lead to a status quo because that would mean millions of political opponents who fear for their lives will live outside the (Syria’s) borders.”

 

SOT, Emmanuel Macron, President of France (French): “That is why what we want to work on with our partners – and in an inclusive manner – is a process that will include representatives of Bashar al-Assad because he is today at the helm of the country.”

M/S Macron and Stoltenberg leaving press conference

The Syrian curse اللعنة السورية

The Syrian curse

يونيو 9, 2017

Written by Nasser Kandil,

It seems that the Gulf crisis which has the title of punishing Qatar towards overthrowing its Prince or subduing him an outcome of the visit of the US President Donald Trump to the region, but surely it is not an outcome of the campaign of fighting the terrorism and stopping its funding, in which Qatar along with its Gulf partners led by Saudi Arabia are equal according to the Congress’s reports about the sources of terrorism and the speech of the Vice President John Biden in front Harvard University, so it can be said that the losses of the war on Syria are distributed by the strongest in the war alliance on the weaker and the weakest.

It is impossible to read Trump’s visit and what happened in isolation from Trump’s words about considering the punishment of Qatar an outcome of the visit on one hand, and what he got of Saudi money on the other hand. Washington behold Saudi Arabia the losses of the Gulf through Trump’s contracts and commitments. Saudi Arabia was authorized to distribute the losses among the Gulf countries in money, influence, and politics. But at the same time Trump’s visit cannot be read out the context of the arrival of Donald to the presidency, relying on a speech based on the failure in the war on Syria, even it can be said that Trump has defeated Hillary Clinton strongly by the defeat of her party in the war on Syria and his claiming that he has the ability to get his country out of this war and to reduce the losses not to win in it.

Trump is as the new French President Emanuel Macron who belongs to the same camp from which his former President François Hollande came politically, but he became a president to prevent the arrival of competitors who were planning to take France out the European Union to a civil confrontation due to the impact and the repercussions of the war on Syria, So Macron was the anticipated president to reduce the losses not to win profits, knowing that the permanent issue is the war on Syria which the administration of Hollande and the administration of Nicolas Sarkozy were active partners in it.

It is not hidden to say that the curse of Syria follows everyone who was involved in the war on it, what has happened with the former Prince of Qatar and his Prime Minister was not far from the outcome of this curse, as well as what has happened with Bander Bin Sultan and what affects the Turkish President Recep Erdogan whether regarding his aggravated relation with Washington or his fear from the birth of Kurdish entity on the borders of his country which only Syria and the Syrians can stop it. It is enough to have a quick look at the names which were insolent against Syria, its President, and its army while they were foreshadowing the immanent fall of Damascus and talking about the matter of few days, to notice that the scene included UN envoys, presidents, Foreign Ministers, heads of governments, kings, princes, and sheikhs. Today we wonder about their fate after they went out from the general scene humiliated not only from the war.

It is a real curse that chases all those who were involved in the war on Syria. In the concept of the history-industry and its laws these are the consequences of the defeat in a war which its launchers have made their involvement in it in fate and presence in a way that leads to repercussions that are difficult to overcome. It is clear that none of those involved will be safe whatever they give offerings  to avoid the destiny, as the Saudi are making today with the Qataris. It is clear as well that those who are threatened of fall by the force of the Syrians’ blood and their sufferings which chase everyone involved will not find a lifeline but to apologize from Syria, to atone for what they did, and to pay the bills which can satisfy Syria if there is still an opportunity to appease it.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

 

اللعنة السورية

يونيو 7, 2017

ناصر قنديل

– تبدو الأزمة الخليجية التي تتخذ عنوان معاقبة قطر وصولاً لإسقاط أميرها أو تطويعه، نتاجاً من نتاجات زيارة الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب للمنطقة، ولكنها ليست بالتأكيد ثمار حملة لمكافحة الإرهاب ووقف تمويله، الذي تتساوى فيه قطر مع شركائها في الخليج، وتتصدره السعودية، وفقاً لتقارير الكونغرس حول مصادر الإرهاب ولخطاب نائب الرئيس السابق جو بايدن أمام جامعة هارفرد، بحيث يمكن القول إن ترصيد خسائر الحرب على سورية يتم توزيعها من الأقوياء في حلف الحرب على الأضعف فالأضعف.

– تستحيل قراءة زيارة ترامب وما جرى فيها بمعزل عن كلام ترامب نفسه حول اعتبار معاقبة قطر من ثمار الزيارة من جهة، وما حصده من مال سعودي من جهة ثانية، فواشنطن حمّلت السعودية رصيد الخليج من الخسائر بمال حمله ترامب عقوداً والتزامات، وفوّضت السعودية بتوزيع نصاب الخسائر بين دول الخليج مالاً ونفوذاً وسياسة، لكن لا يمكن أيضاً قراءة زيارة ترامب خارج سياق وصول ترامب نفسه للرئاسة مستقوياً بخطاب مؤسس على الفشل في حرب سورية، حتى يمكن القول إن ترامب هزم هيلاري كلينتون بقوة هزيمة حزبها في الحرب على سورية، وإدعائه القدرة على إخراج بلاده من هذه الحرب وتخفيف الخسائر وليس الفوز بها.

– مثل ترامب حال الرئيس الفرنسي الجديد إيمانويل ماكرون الذي ينتمي للمعسكر ذاته الذي جاء منه سياسياً الرئيس الأسبق فرانسوا هولاند، لكنه وصل إلى الرئاسة منعاً لوصول منافسين كانوا يزمعون أخذ فرنسا خارج الاتحاد الأوروبي وإلى مواجهة أهلية، بتأثير وتداعيات الحرب على سورية، فكان ماكرون رئيس الوعد بتخفيف الخسائر وليس تحقيق الأرباح، والحاضر الدائم هي الحرب على سورية، التي كانت إدارة هولاند وقبله إدارة نيكولاي ساركوزي شريكاً نشطاً فيها.

– ليس من الغيبيات القول بلعنة سورية تلاحق كل الذين تورطوا في الحرب عليها، فما جرى مع أمير قطر السابق ورئيس وزرائه ليس بعيداً عن نتاج هذه اللعنة، ولا ما أصاب بندر بن سلطان، ولا ما يصيب الرئيس التركي رجب أردوغان، سواء بتأزم علاقته بواشنطن أو بذعره من ولادة كيان كردي على حدوده لن يحول دونه إلا سورية والسوريون، وتكفي نظرة سريعة على الأسماء التي تتالت وتنافست على التطاول على سورية ورئيسها وجيشها وهي تبشّر بقرب سقوط دمشق، وتتحدث عن ايام معدودة، ليضم المشهد مبعوثين أمميين وقادة دول ووزراء خارجية ورؤساء حكومات وملوكاً وأمراء وشيوخاً، ونتساءل عن مصيرهم اليوم لنشهد خروجهم بصورة مهينة من المشهد العام، وليس من الحرب فقط.

– هي لعنة حقيقية تلاحق كل الذين تورطوا في الحرب على سورية، وبمفهوم صناعة التاريخ وقوانينه هي تداعيات الهزيمة في حرب جعل أصحابها تورّطهم فيها مصيرياً ووجودياً، بصورة ترتب على الفشل تداعيات يصعب احتواؤها، ومن الواضح أن أحداً من المتورّطين لن ينجو منها مهما افتعل القرابين لتفادي بئس المصير، كما يفعل السعوديون بالقطريين اليوم، بل الواضح أن المهدّدين بالسقوط بقوة دماء السوريين وعذاباتهم التي تلاحق كل متورط، لن يجدوا حبل نجاة إلا الاعتذار من سورية والتكفير عما ارتكبت أيديهم، وتسديد الفواتير التي ترضي سورية إن كان لا يزال لاسترضائها فرصة.

بالخريطة والتفاصيل:الجيش السوري إلى الحدود العراقية .. نهاية داعش

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Et tu, Macron? Hollande the Betrayer Outdone by His Protégé

by Ramin Mazaheri

May 17, 2017Et tu, Macron? Hollande the Betrayer Outdone by His Protégé

The Hollande era has ended, and the Macron era has begun –one must look to Brussels to find many who are happy about it.

This is not a column about Hollande’s reign, and reign is the right word for a man who leaves the country in an 18-month state of emergency, i.e. a police state dictatorship. But it would be too long to list all of Hollande’s crimes against France’s humanity and France’s humans, legal citizens and otherwise.

That is a column for another day.

It’s absurd to read the mainstream media’s coverage of the undearly departed Hollande: They are trying to convince us that he “didn’t deserve his unpopularity”, that he was “misunderstood” or that he “will be appreciated later”.

All of these false narratives arrogantly and shockingly whitewash his four years of record unpopularity, and they also show whose side the mainstream media is truly on: the side of power, and not the people.

If you are on the side of the French people you do not write such revisionist hagiographies of such a flagrantly undemocratic president – you condemn; you reflect the judgment of the people. That’s the only way a journalist should be able to cash their paycheck with a clear conscience.

Hollande betrayed his promises to fight for the rights of his people so scandalously that it is absolutely justice that he was betrayed in the end: Macron appears to have manipulated Hollande perfectly.

I’ll drop the repugnant Hollande with this clear statement: Hollande did not deserve any better than this – to be betrayed by the unknown he plucked from the chorus, groomed for power, and whose name was on the handle of the knife in his back.

Who is this kid we’re stuck with?

A fundamental question which will likely dog Macron: Is Macron an authentic person?

I covered the recent passing of Fidel Castro for Press TV and I heard from everyday people over and over – many of whom had met Castro – that he was an “authentic person”. I thought: “I hope people say the same for me when I pass on.”

But I am a nobody and I do not seek power over others – if I am an inauthentic person the circle of people I hurt will be limited. An inauthentic president, however, ruins entire nations.

Macron’s wife is a good indication that he may not be an authentic person. They met when she was his high school drama teacher: How can any actor ever be considered an “authentic person”? Actors pretend to be anyone but themselves, after all; they are people who perfect the craft of lying in public.

Trump was an amateur thespian, and I don’t think he even stops for five minutes to ask himself who he really is.

The fact is that since the advent of moving pictures politicians increasingly have nothing to do with intellectual accomplishments, ethical standing or even military discipline/selflessness – they simply know how to lie with poise after reading the polling data, which they throw out once in office.

A word about France’s new first lady, Brigitte Macron, née: Brigitte Trogneux: She was not just a simple drama and French teacher, as is commonly reported. She is also an heiress of the Chocolaterie Trogneux family. The former failed politician is not as rich as Theresa Heinz Kerry, but many are at a loss to explain America’s love for ketchup.

I’ve known plenty of 39-year olds who “kept it real” – the jury is out on Macron.

So far the MacronLeaks have not turned up much. To be honest, we journalists in France need more time – we have been busy with the transfer of power. However, Macron is from the new generation which grew up with home video games and computers in his private schools – he’s not dumb enough to leave digital evidence of malfeasance, one assumes.

So far the biggest thing has been that the Macron team paid hundreds of thousands of euros for polls. Obviously, this needs to be probed deeper, but I bring it up because Macron has just announced his prime minister.

The old lady, or ladies, who would be prime minister (ministerette?)

A front-runner for Prime Minister was Laurence Parisot, who is now the head of the national bosses union – yes, even bosses get a union in France, and they are almost supremely powerful in the political-business sphere, as you can imagine. Parisot owns and runs perhaps the top polling firm in France, IFOP, the French Institute of Public Opinion.

This intersection between polling and politics should worry any citizen. Of course, market research firms sell polls – that’s what people who are too dumb to be journalists and too uncreative to be advertisers do – but the obvious temptation to manipulate public opinion with false polling should preclude someone from holding office in a normal democracy.

However, Parisot was passed over. Many assumed it would be current IMF chief Christine Lagarde. It was not.

Many assumed it would be some old lady – any old lady – because the 39-year old Macron married a 64-year old woman, so he clearly works well with the elder female generation.

People are asking: “When will they stop bringing up his wife’s age?” They won’t, at least outside of France. That’s because most everyone assumes there is a moral component to sex, love and marriage. A winter-summer romance, especially on the flip-side of the usual gender, is going to provoke questions and that’s life in the public eye.

But this, however, is France. Mitterand had a secret family which the press dutifully covered up; Hollande secretly dated an actress. If Macron has certain needs – however varied his may be – that 39-year old men have…well, he’s in the right country to keep it under wraps.

Or maybe he’s already found that mistress that every French president seems to have: Angela Merkel.

Hey, shortly after appointing his Prime Minister that’s who he flew off to see…but my imagination insists on keeping visions of that meeting purely work-related. It’s bad enough Merkel has damaged so much else!

Is Macron even capable saying “no” to Merkel? Regardless of any possible attraction, it’s much more likely this generation’s Margaret Thatcher will act as the inexperienced Macron’s guru, and all we can do is just groan yet again.

As Marine Le Pen said in the lone presidential debate: “In any case France will be governed by a woman: either me or Madame Merkel.” Ouch!

But, for form’s sake, Merkel was not appointed French Prime Minister

The new prime minister is 47-year old Edouard Philippe.

Who? Well, that’s not such a bad response – maybe Macron is going to do what he promised: totally regenerate France’s pool of politicians. Polls said that was the 2nd most-popular reason why voters chose Macron over Le Pen. Neither the Socialists nor the party of de Gaulle advanced to the 2nd round for the first time ever in large part for this important reason.

The new PM may not even last a month, however – it all depends on the “Third Round of the Presidential Elections”: next month’s legislative elections.

Macron’s list of legislative candidates is also pleasantly surprising, in this vein – there are only a few dozen recycled Socialists among his first 430 of roughly 580 candidates. Half are new to politics (probably businessmen, I imagine). We’ll have to wait for the final list, but now is the time to be optimistic: Maybe there really will be new blood in the halls of French power? Maybe the Socialists will get the punishment they deserve? Maybe the Conservatives won’t keep getting ghost jobs on the taxpayer dime?

It would be very easy for Macron to blow up the system: He has already said that he is not envisioning a career in politics. His hope appears to be to stay president for 10 years and then go back into the private sector and make more Rothschild-type of money.

As I wrote, this is good in the sense that it reflects the democratic will of the people – well, at least one current of it. However, there are clearly drawbacks to having your country run by mercenaries.

It is very easy to blow up public service when you have no intention of recreating a better public service. Isn’t this the overarching goal of neoliberalism? Reflect on this at your leisure….

The goal of Western politicians is not to create a better government, but to end social services and become billionaires. Look at the Clintons; look at Barack Obama, who is somehow planning to own an NBA team on the salary of a university professor and presidential pension.

There is no guarantee that Macron’s party will win a majority in Parliament – that’s actually opposed by 61% of the public – but bringing in political neophytes also has a nefarious advantage: they will be easy to control and whip into line. Hollande’s far-right “deforms” – not “reforms” – suffered from too many Socialist “rebels” (LOL) who refused to back them. Macron saw up close how Hollande had to bypass Parliament, threatening it with dissolution, in order to pass the right-wing labor code rollback known as the “Macron Law”.

It sucks to be ruled by a Westerner – welcome to the 3rd World

Here is what the new prime minister thought of Macron – per an interview with French centrist paperLibération, dated January 18 of this year:

“Who is Macron? For some, impressed by his ability to seduce and his reformist rhetoric, he will be the natural son of Kennedy and Mendès France. We can doubt this: the first had more charisma and the second had more principles. For others, he will be Brutus, the adoptive son of Caesar.”

Wow…was this the best buddy Macron could find to be his number two? Can’t Macron play nice with people his own age? Compare me to Brutus and I wouldn’t hire you to run my lemonade stand.

“Macron, who takes no responsibility but promises everything, with the ardor of a youthful conqueror and the cynicism of an old truck-driver. If I dare to say it, he acts like a used-car salesman.”

Sweet Mary, whose side are you on?! Why on earth are you going to work for such a man, then? Do you just want money and power, is it? Who is worse – you or your boss? Sheesh….

The luckiest countries – whether they know it or not – have revolutionaries as leaders instead of politicians. Ho Chi Minh, Sankara, Khomeini – all were simple people who lived simply, with no desire for material wealth. You might not agree with them, but damned if they weren’t authentic people.

In the West it’s nothing but total phonies running the show. There’s no metric for it, but the effect this has on increasing individual alienation must be astronomical.

Who with a normal salary would really rather have a Hillary or a Macron instead of a Castro? All Cubans want is the West to lift their blockade – they don’t want Western culture. Of course, Westerners assume the Coloreds surely want both: Excuse us while we either bust a gut laughing or an eye vessel from excessive rolling.

Well, Brutus lasted only a year in power. Macron appears likely to be the 3rd consecutive 1-term president in France – such turnover is great for established capitalists and terrible for the long-term management of society’s needs.

But we should not be cynical from the beginning: The owl of Minerva flies at night. That’s a dramatic way of saying that we can’t properly judge until time has run its course.

But it is midnight for Hollande, and the very real victims of austerity hope it comes crashing down on him like the thunder of hell.

I’m getting pretty dramatic here, eh?! Macron and his wife would likely applaud.

Best of luck enjoying your Macron era!

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 Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television.

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