False Flag in Manchester?

By Peter Koenig

May 25, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – Government assisted killing of their own citizens for political purposes has become a common pattern. The media are getting ever bolder in disguising such events as ‘Terror’, spreading fear. The public swallows these lies again and again.

British elections are planned for 8 June 2017.

At the end of a pop concert by US singer Ariana Grande in Manchester, an enormous ‘controlled’ explosion killed at least 22 people and injured 59, as reported by British media. Many of them are children and adolescents, as most of the concert-goers were young people.

The singer is unharmed. The concert hall accommodates 21,000 people. After the blast, panic broke loose, resulting in a mass stampede. It is not clear whether people were also killed in the stampede.

Hours after the explosion, although BBC reported it was not evident what exactly happened, UK police and authorities talked immediately of an act of terror.

Early Tuesday morning, 23 May, British authorities said that the Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the explosion. The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, Ian Hopkins, stated investigators believe the attack was carried out by a lone suicide bomber “carrying” a homemade device. He was killed by the blast.

The IS-Propaganda agency Amak apparently issued the claim of IS’s responsibility for the deadly blast. Did an independent authority check whether this is indeed true?

The attacker, is now named by US officials (why US officials?) as Salman Abedi, 22, a British citizen, born in the UK. He is told having detonated the improvised explosive device.

Another 23-year-old suspect was apprehended in the south of Manchester. But so far, the Chief Police Officer refused to talk to the media about suspects.

Prime Minister, Theresa May raised the threat warning to the highest level, from ‘severe’ to ‘critical’, saying other attacks may follow. This is the highest security level in the UK. She also urged police to investigate whether the attacker was alone or may have acted as a member of a wider terror group.

The attack is the worst in the UK since 56 people were killed in the 7 July London bombings in 2005.

Both, Theresa May and her election opponent, Labor Leader Jeremy Corbyn expressed their deep sorrow to the victims’ families. All campaign activities for the 8 June elections have been suspended.

Mr. Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, proclaiming on what the raised threat level means for the city, said, “there will be additional police officers on London’s streets over the coming days – including additional armed officers. You will also see some military personnel around London – they are there to help our police service to keep us safe and guard key sites.”

The head of Counter Terrorism at the Metropolitan Police, Mr. Mark Rowley, informed that “there has been an arrest and there are currently multiple searches and other activity taking place as I speak. However, at this stage it is still not possible to be certain if there was a wider group involved in the attack; 24 hours in we have a number of investigative leads that we are pursuing to manage the ongoing threat.”

All of this points to a rapid militarization of the UK, akin to France. What EU country will be next?

Why would the Islamic State kill children in England, when they know exactly that this provokes further NATO – EU – US military aggression against them? And why in England, just before elections? Do they not know that they incite election results unfavorable to them, unfavorable to the Muslim society, electing the candidate that promises even more discrimination against Muslims? A candidate even less eager to find a peaceful solution in the Middle East?

Of course, they know. ISIS / IS (Daesh), Al-Qaeda and most other terror groups fighting in the Middle East proxy-wars for the West, are the creation of the West. We, The People, should wake up to this reality and see such terror attacks at crucial points in time as what they are – provocations, false flags, to dupe the public into asking for what the establishment, the ruling class wants – more “protection”, like a gradual but ever accelerating militarization of the west.

Even the installation of Martial Law is not far-fetched. Former French President Hollande has tried to introduce it in France’s Constitution ever since the Hebdo Charlie (false flag) attack; so far unsuccessfully (see http://www.globalresearch.ca/germany-and-nato-towards-martial-law-preparing-for-a-fascist-repression-in-europe/5590292  and http://www.globalresearch.ca/french-election-fraud-will-macron-be-able-to-form-a-government/5589262 ).

This gives the Deep State-installed EU government, i.e. Brussels, the legitimacy to clamp down and if needed violently repress protests in European cities, as they may arise with increasing neoliberal financial domination of western economies, imposed austerities, privatization of public services, educations systems, health care – cuts in pensions, in brief, the imposition of a fascist economy. We are almost there, just look at Greece.

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As always, the question to ask is Cui Bono? – At first sight it looks like the act of ‘terror’ might benefit Theresa May and her conservative Tories. They propagate clamping down on terrorism, on immigration to keep ‘terrorists’ out. Snap-elections decided without much warning by PM Theresa May, are scheduled for 8 June, just 17 days away from the attack, but enough time to launch massive pro-conservative and anti-Labor propaganda.

Interestingly, Jeremy Corbyn has been making rapid gains lately in the polls. The supposed ‘terror’ attack, may set his gains back and advance the “pro-security” Tory leader, Theresa May. As if Jeremy Corbyn and Labor were against ‘security’ – This is the implied falsehood of the presstitute – foreseeable, like in The Theft of an Election Foretold.

Interestingly too, the recent French elections were also preceded by a terror attack. Just days ahead of the first round of elections, a gunman opened fire on a police car on Champs Élysées, killing one policeman and injuring two, the gunman was immediately killed by French police; the chief witness gone. End of story.

The incident most likely helped propel Macron and Le Pen into the second round. That’s what the dark hands of the ‘system’ wanted. So, it would be easy to focus the propaganda on the self-styled centrist, pro-Europe, pro-globalization, pro-NATO, and naturally, pro-enhanced security, i.e. pro-militarization of Europe, the Rothschild banker, Emmanuel Macron – who eventually ‘won’ in a landslide, against Marine Le Pen, who campaigned pro French sovereignty, against Brussels, against the euro and against NATO.

We will see later this year whether more killing is needed to get Mme. Merkel re-elected.

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research, ICH, RT, Sputnik, PressTV, The 4th Media (China), TeleSUR, The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

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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.

The Globalization of Misery

By Tom Engelhardt

May 15, 2017 “Information Clearing House” –  The closest I ever got to Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, was 1,720.7 miles away — or so the Internet assures me.  Although I’ve had a lifelong interest in history, I know next to nothing about Mosul’s, nor do I have more than a glancing sense of what it looks like, or more accurately what it looked like when all its buildings, including those in its “Old City,” were still standing.  It has — or at least in better times had — a population of at least 1.8 million, not one of whom have I ever met and significant numbers of whom are now either dead, wounded, uprooted, or in desperate straits.

Consider what I never learned about Mosul my loss, a sign of my ignorance.  Yet, in recent months, little as I know about the place, it’s been on my mind — in part because what’s now happening to that city will be the world’s loss as well as mine.

In mid-October 2016, the U.S.-backed Iraqi army first launched an offensive to retake Mosul from the militants of the Islamic State.  Relatively small numbers of ISIS fighters had captured it in mid-2014 when the previous version of the Iraqi military (into which the U.S. had poured more than $25 billion) collapsed ignominiously and fled, abandoning weaponry and even uniforms along the way.  It was in Mosul’s Great Mosque that the existence of the Islamic State was first triumphantly proclaimed by its “caliph,” Abu Bakr al-Bagdadi.

On the initial day of the offensive to recapture the city, the Pentagon was already congratulating the Iraqi military for being “ahead of schedule” in a campaign that was expected to “take weeks or even months.”  Little did its planners — who had been announcing its prospective start for nearly a year — know.  A week later, everything was still “proceeding according to our plan,” claimed then-U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter.  By the end of January 2017, after 100 days of fierce fighting, the eastern part of that city, divided by the Tigris River, was more or less back in government hands and it had, according to New York Times reporters on the scene, been “spared the wholesale destruction inflicted on other Iraqi cities” like Ramadi and Fallujah, even though those residents who hadn’t fled were reportedly “scratching out a primitive existence, deprived of electricity, running water and other essential city services.”

And that was the good news.  More than 100 days later, Iraqi troops continue to edge their way through embattled western Mosul, with parts of it, including the treacherous warren of streets in its Old City, still in the hands of ISIS militants amid continuing bitter building-to-building fighting.  The Iraqi government and its generals still insist, however, that everything will be over in mere weeks.  An estimated thousand or so ISIS defenders (of the original 4,000-8,000 reportedly entrenched in the city) are still holding out and will assumedly fight to the death.  U.S. air power has repeatedly been called in big time, with civilian deaths soaring, and hundreds of thousands of its increasingly desperate and hungry inhabitants still living in battle-scarred Mosul as Islamic State fighters employ countless bomb-laden suicide vehicles and even small drones.

After seven months of unending battle in that single city, perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that Mosul has receded from the news here, even as civilian casualties grow, at least half a million Iraqis have been displaced, and the Iraqi military has suffered grievous losses.

Though there’s been remarkably little writing about it, here’s what now seems obvious: when the fighting is finally over and the Islamic State defeated, the losses will be so much more widespread than that.  Despite initial claims that the Iraqi military (and the U.S. Air Force) were taking great care to avoid as much destruction as possible in an urban landscape filled with civilians, the rules of engagement have since changed and it’s clear that, in the end, significant swathes of Iraq’s second largest city will be left in ruins. In this, it will resemble so many other cities and towns in Iraq and Syria, from Fallujah to Ramadi,Homs to Aleppo.

The Disappearance of Mosul

At a moment when Donald Trump makes headlines daily with almost any random thing he says, the fate of Mosul doesn’t even qualify as a major news story.  What happens in that city, however, will be no minor thing. It will matter on this increasingly small planet of ours.

What’s to come is also, unfortunately, reasonably predictable.  Eight, nine, or more months after this offensive was launched, the grim Islamic State in Mosul will undoubtedly be destroyed, but so will much of the city in a region that continues to be — to invent a word — rubblized.

When Mosul is officially retaken, if not “ahead of schedule,” then at least “according to plan,” the proud announcements of “victory” in the war against ISIS will make headlines.  Soon after, however, Mosul will once again disappear from our American world and worries. Yet that will undoubtedly only be the beginning of the story in a world in crisis.  Fourteen years have passed since the U.S. invaded Iraq and punched a hole in the oil heartlands of the Middle East.  In the wake of that invasion, states have been crumbling or simply imploding and terror movements growing and spreading, while wars, ethnic slaughter, and all manner of atrocities have engulfed an ever-widening region.  Millions of Iraqis, Syrians, Afghans, Yemenis, Libyans, and others have been uprooted, sent into exile, or fled across borders to become refugees.  In Mosul alone, untold numbers of people whose fathers, mothers, grandparents, children, friends, and relatives were slaughtered in the Iraqi Army’s offensive or simply murdered by ISIS will be left homeless, often without possessions, jobs, or communities in the midst of once familiar places that have been transformed into rubble.

Mosul now lacks an airport, a railroad station, and a university — all destroyed in the recent fighting. Initial estimates suggest that its rebuilding will cost billions of dollars over many years. And it’s just one of many cities in such a state. The question is: Where exactly will the money to rebuild come from? After all, the price of oil is at present below $50 a barrel, the Iraqi and Syrian governments lack resources of every sort, and who can imagine a new Marshall Plan for the region coming from Donald Trump’s America or, for that matter, anywhere else?

In other words, the Iraqis, the Syrians, the Yemenis, the Libyans, the Afghans, and others are likely, in the end, to find themselves alone in the ruins of their worlds with remarkably little recourse.  With that in mind and given the record of those last 14 years, how exactly do you imagine that things will turn out for the inhabitants of Mosul, or Ramadi, or Fallujah, or cities yet to be destroyed? What new movements, ethnic struggles, and terror outfits will emerge from such a nightmare?

To put it another way, if you think that such a disaster will remain the possession of the Iraqis (Syrians, Yemenis, Libyans, and Afghans), then you haven’t been paying much attention to the history of the twenty-first century. You evidently haven’t noticed that Donald J. Trump won the last presidential election in the United States, in part by playing on fears of a deluge of refugees from the Middle East and of Islamic terrorism; that the British voted to leave the European Union in part based on similar fears; and that across Europe pressures over refugees and terror attacks have helped to alter the political landscape.

Where Is Globalization Now That We Need It?

To frame things slightly differently, let me ask another question entirely: In these last years, haven’t you wondered what ever happened to “globalization” and the endless media attention that was once paid to it? Not so very long ago we were being assured that this planet was binding itself into a remarkably tight knot of interconnectedness that was going to amaze us all.  As Thomas Friedman of the New York Times put itin 1996, we were seeing “the integration of free markets, nation-states, and information technologies to a degree never before witnessed, in a way that is enabling individuals, corporations, and countries to reach around the world farther, faster, deeper, and cheaper than ever.”  All of this was to be fed and led by the United States, the last superpower standing, and as a result, the global “playing field” would miraculously “be leveled” on a planet becoming a mosaic of Pizza Huts, iMacs, and Lexuses.

Who of a certain age doesn’t remember those years after the Soviet Union imploded when we all suddenly found ourselves in a single superpower world?  It was a moment when, thanks to vaunted technological advances, it seemed blindingly clear to the cognoscenti that this was going to be a single-everything planet.  We were all about to be absorbed into a “single market for goods, capital, and commercial services” from which, despite the worries of naysayers, “almost everyone” stood “to gain.”  In a world not of multiple superpowers but of multiple “supermarkets,” we were likely to become both more democratic and more capitalistic by the year as an interlocking set of transnational corporate players, nations, and peoples, unified by a singularly interwoven set of communication systems (representing nothing short of an information revolution), triumphed, while poverty, that eternal plague of humanity, stood to lose out big time.  Everything would be connected on what was, for the first time, to be a single, “flattened” planet.

It won’t surprise you, I’m sure, to be told that that’s not exactly the planet we’re now on.  Instead, whatever processes were at work, the result has been record numbers of billionaires, record levels of inequality, and refugees in numbers not seen since much of the world was in a state of collapse after World War II.

Still, don’t you ever wonder where, conceptually speaking, globalization is now that we need it? I mean, did it really turn out that we weren’t living together on a single shrinking planet? Were the globalists of that moment inhabiting another planet entirely in another solar system? Or could it be that globalization is still the ruling paradigm here, but that what’s globalizing isn’t (or isn’t just) Pizza Huts, iMacs, and Lexuses, but pressure points for the fracturing of our world?

The globalization of misery doesn’t have the cachet of the globalization of plenty. It doesn’t make for the same uplifting reading, nor does skyrocketing global economic inequality seem quite as thrilling as a leveling playing field (unless, of course, you happen to be a billionaire). And thanks significantly to the military efforts of the last superpower standing, the disintegration of significant regions of the planet doesn’t quite add up to what the globalists had in mind for the twenty-first century. Failed states, spreading terror movements, all too many Mosuls, and the conditions for so much more of the same weren’t what globalization was supposed to be all about.

Perhaps, however, it’s time to begin reminding ourselves that we’re still on a globalizing planet, even if one experiencing pressures of an unexpected sort, including from the disastrous never-ending American war on terror. It’s so much more convenient, of course, to throw the idea of globalization overboard and imagine that Mosul is thousands of miles away in a universe that bears next to no relation to our own.

What It Really Means to Be on a “Flattening” Planet

It’s true that in France last week extremist presidential candidate Marine Le Pen was defeated by a young, little known former investment banker and government minister, Emmanuel Macron, and the European Union preserved.  As with an earlier election in Holland in which a similar right-wing candidate lost, this is being presented as potentially the high-water mark of what’s now commonly called “populism” in Europe (or the Brexit-style fragmentation of that continent).  But I’d take such reassurances with a grain of salt, given the pressures likely to come. After all, in both Holland and France, two extreme nationalist parties garnered record votes based on anti-Islamic, anti-refugee sentiment and will, after the coming parliamentary elections in France, both be represented, again in record numbers, in their legislatures.

The rise of such “populism” — think of it as the authoritarian fragmentation of the planet — is already a global trend.  So just imagine the situation four or potentially even eight years from now after Donald Trump’s generals, already in the saddle, do their damnedest in the Greater Middle East and Africa.  There’s no reason to believe that, under their direction, the smashing of key regions of the planet won’t continue.  There’s no reason to doubt that, in an expanding world of Mosuls — the Syrian “capital” of the Islamic State, Raqqa, is undoubtedly the next city in line for such treatment — “victories” won’t produce a planet of greater ethnic savagery, religious extremism, military destruction, and chaos.  This, in turn, ensures a further spread of terror groups and an even more staggering uprooting of peoples.  (It’s worth noting, for instance, that since the death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of U.S. Special Operations forces, al-Qaeda has grown, not shrunk, gaining yet more traction across the Greater Middle East.)  So far, America’s permanent “war on terror” has helped produce a planet of fear, refugees on an almost unimaginable scale, and ever more terror.  What else would you imagine could arise from the rubble of so many Mosuls?

If you don’t think that this is an ever-more connected planet still being “flattened” (even if in quite a different way than expected), and that sooner or later the destruction of Mosul will reverberate in our world, too, then you don’t get our world. It’s obvious, for instance, that future Mosuls will only produce more refugees, and you already know where that’s led, from Brexit to Donald Trump. Destroy enough Mosuls and, even in the heartland of the planet’s sole superpower, the fears of those who already feel they’ve been left in a ditch will only rise (and be fed further by demagogues ready to use that global flow of refugees for their own purposes).

Given the transformations of recent years, just think what it will mean to uproot ever vaster populations, to set the homeless, the desperate, the angry, the hurt, and the vengeful — millions of adults and childrenwhose lives have been devastated or destroyed — in motion.  Imagine, for instance, what those pressures will mean when it comes to Europe and its future politics.

Think about what’s to come on this small planet of ours — and that’s without even mentioning the force that has yet to fully reveal itself in all its fragmenting and globalizing and leveling power.  We now call it, mildly enough, “climate change” or “global warming.”  Just wait until, in the decades to come, rising sea levels and extreme weather events put human beings in motion in startling ways (particularly given that the planet’s sole superpower is now run by men in violent denial of the very existence of such a force or the human sources of its power).

You want a shrinking planet? You want terror? You want globalization? Think about that. And do you wonder why, these days, I have Mosul on my mind?

Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He is a fellow of the Nation Institute and runs TomDispatch.com. His latest book is Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II, as well as John Feffer’s dystopian novel Splinterlands, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2017 Tom Engelhardt

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.


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The Financial Elite Created France’s New President, Emmanuel Macron

Interview with Diana Johnstone

On Sunday French voters went to the polls and chose Emmanuel Macron rather than Marine Le Pen to be France’s next president. Macron, a former investment banker and economics minister in the hugely unpopular government of President Francois Hollande, was endorsed by Barack Obama, Angela Merkel and the rest of the global elite who favor the unfettered reign of global capital. As economics minister, he succeeded in passing anti-labor legislation that caused rioting in French streets. He supports the privatization of social services like health care and education, NATO hostilities on Russia’s border, and President Donald Trump’s direct missile strikes on the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad.

Marine Le Pen called for France’s departure from both NATO and the European Union, restoration of the French franc as its currency, and “intelligent protectionism” to defend the living standards of French farmers and workers. She favors detente with Russia, she condemned Trump’s missile strikes on Syria, and she has pushed for restricting immigration and deporting citizens of other nations who are on France’s terrorist watch list. She was endorsed by prominent British Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage and praised by Donald Trump.

Both Macron and Le Pen called for prison capacity expansion, but Macron was reported to have called for fewer new cells than Le Pen.

American author and Counterpunch writer Diana Johnstone says that elites whipped up mass hysteria that Le Pen is a fascist to put the neoliberal globalist Macron in power. I spoke to Diana in Paris where she has lived most of her adult life.

*     *     *

Ann Garrison: There’s so much furious determination to identify Marine Le Pen as a fascist that it’s difficult to have a rational conversation about it.

Diana Johnstone: Tell me about it. I’ve stopped trying to talk about it to Americans because they’re just not interested, and the myth is so delightful that no one wants to give it up. Everybody likes to believe they’re fighting fascism.

AG: Well, I can’t even tell what they mean by that. The word’s being used very vaguely and self-righteously.

DJ: That means Hitler coming back to life and putting minorities in Auschwitz and then the gas chambers.

AG: So they mean extremely racist and genocidal.

DJ: Well, that’s the implication, but there’s no sign that she’s a racist and there’s no threat of institutionalized racism here. She is extremely hostile to Islamic fanaticism but Islamic fanaticism is not a race.

AG: To be a real fascist, wouldn’t she have to want to shut down the media and suspend the French constitution?

DJ: Well, you can list everything that characterizes fascism and nothing on the list applies. That’s one of them, but there’s nothing fascist about her. This is just propaganda that is being spread not only by the French establishment but also by the whole Western, NATO establishment.

The real issue here is that there is a growing criticism of the European Union (EU) in France, and the whole Western establishment is panicked about this. Ever since the Brexit, they’ve been afraid that this pro-national sovereignty tendency in France, which manifests across the whole political spectrum, could gain momentum and that France might leave the EU and NATO. And of course the whole globalizing elite absolutely don’t want this to happen, so they went all out to invent their own special candidate, who is supported by everybody in the elite. Merkel, Obama, all of the billionaires, all of the banks, and all of the media, which of course is owned by the billionaires. They went all out to create panic that Marine Le Pen might win. This was just theatre calculated to elect a person who is responsible for the most unpopular economic policies of the Hollande government.

Hollande was so unpopular that he couldn’t run for a second term. His approval rating in polls was down to single digits. So the whole elite and its press invented Macron to take his place. The press all started saying that Macron was going to be the next president as soon as he left the government and said he was going to create his new political movement.

All of this is to reinforce the policies that were so unpopular in the outgoing Hollande government, but behind a new young face. This is a total charade, but Macron is even worse because when he was economics minister, he managed to get some very anti-labor legislation passed, then made it clear that he was leaving that government because he hadn’t been able to push it far enough. So he’s virtually promised to make things worse for working people, but nobody paid any attention to that because so many people were screaming, “Fascism! Fascism!” It was really grotesque.

AG: Simply posting any questions about who Marine Le Pen is has been enough to trigger tirades on social media pages.

DJ: I don’t know why these people are so enraged. Where do they get their information? How are they so sure of what they’re saying? What are their sources? What are they talking about?

AG: What would Marine Le Pen have to do to qualify as a fascist, from your point of view?

DJ: Well, she’d have to be in favor of a single party. She’d have to be resorting to violence and various other things, but the point is that her economic policies are actually very left wing. They are very close to those of the left leader, Jean Luc Mélenchon.

AG: Well, the propaganda was so effective that I even saw a news video of Greenpeace hanging an anti-Le Pen banner off the Eiffel Tower that read “#Resist” and “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité.”

DJ: Yes, I know. Have you ever heard of mass hysteria?

AG: Yes.

DJ: Well, this is mass hysteria. All these people in the power elite will praise one another. It’s a great power club. Now they’re saying that Macron’s election saved us from fascism, and people are buying it, both inside and outside France.

AG: I’ve seen the press comparing him to JFK, and you said that French people will see his face on magazines whenever they go to the hairdresser or the doctor.

DJ: Yes, he’s been made by the press. As soon as he left the government and said that he was going to form this new movement, “En Marche,” all the magazines put his picture on the cover. The American “Foreign Policy” magazine ran an effulgent article right at the start about what a genius new leader he was and how certain he was to be the next French president.

AG: Someone at a gathering of French farmers hit Macron in the head with an egg.

DJ: Yes, it’s not hard to understand why and that may happen more. Of course, Marine Le Pen appealed to the farmers and workers who are really suffering in the European Common Market, but the human rights people decided some time ago that workers, farmers, and poor people who are complaining must be complaining because they’re racists. They don’t say they’re racists, they don’t act like racists, but they must be racists. That’s the human rights ideology, so the working class which used to be the favorite of the left is now its hobgoblin, and they’re saying, “Look at all these racist workers and farmers supporting Marine Le Pen.” In fact workers and farmers supported Le Pen because they’re losing jobs, they’re losing security, and their social services are going down the drain. Many of them supported Le Pen because she is going against the policies of the European Union and globalization.

AG: Just to make it quite clear what we’re talking about here, Macron and the rest of the globalist elite are advancing an order in which global capital can freely chase the cheapest labor all over the world, including industrial farm labor, then come back with products with no tariffs imposed upon them, and even sue any government that becomes inconvenient for them.

DJ: That’s about it. What Le Pen and others have said is that they want some “intelligent protectionism” and that goes against the whole neoliberal program, which is to make the whole world safe for investment capital.

Certain countries will just be wiped out by this. France has a tradition of pretty good social services. In fact they’ve been excellent, though they’re now getting worse because of the current government. The French are very attached to their social services, but if you privatize them all and then international financial capital says, “Hmm, we can make more profit in something other than transportation, health care or other services,” then they’ll just go and invest somewhere else. So, if you just have unfettered capital like that, you can’t necessarily preserve the existence of your country. Resisting globalization is just the most basic self preservation impulse; people want to preserve their countries as places where you can live decently. That is demonized as being nationalism and nationalism is demonized as fascism and racism.

AG: When I spun off my little description of globalization, I should have included the privatization of everything.

DJ: Yes, that’s right. And Europe is already the frontline of globalization. It’s been opened up as a playground for financial capital, and Macron was made by financiers. The financial elite found him to be a talent; they brought him into the Rothschild Bank and in no time, he’d made a few million dollars. Once someone finds out how fast they can make money like that, it’s like they’re being initiated into the club and they’re going to defend its interests in every possible way.

Diana Johnstone is the author of “The Politics of Euromissiles: Europe’s Role in America’s World,” “Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, Nato, and Western Delusions, and “Queen of Chaos: The Misadventures of Hillary Clinton.”  Her essay “The Main Issue in the French Presidential Election: National Sovereignty and the Future of France,” appears on the Counterpunch and Global Research websites.

Are the French elections a turning point? هل الانتخابات الفرنسية نقطة تحوّل؟

Are the French elections a turning point?

مايو 11, 2017

Written by Nasser Kandil,

Winning the French presidency by Emmanuel Macron has been given a big international and regional importance to the extent of describing it with the big transformation in policies, many considerations were dedicated for this idea, as the recall of the partisan project of Macron which was born a year ago, it was linked with renewing the democracy, which France forms one of its bases. Some people have shown the decline of the traditional historical parties especially the Republican and the Socialist Parties which shared the political history of France for half of a century and more. The modernizing electoral platform of Macron at the economic or the political levels made some of the followers of Macron halt at it, it talked about new situation that based on combining the capitalism with the socialization economically, linking the French nationalism with the globalization politically, and the reliance on the youth and the social media in a new structure that is described as revolutionary at the level of the partisan work.

At the first systematic verification of the campaign of Macron intellectually, politically, and economically, all the arguments are dropped. Macron emerged as a candidate, who meets the aspirations of banks and the major French companies on one hand, and the alliance which is represented by the Saudis and the Israelis in the regional policies on the other hand, a candidate who supersedes Francoise Hollande. After the attempts of tempting the Republican party to bring a new Jacques Chirac or a new Nicolas Sarkozy who can meet these policies have failed in front of the accumulative challenges that affect France and its political independence in the time of the US weakness, and the risks of displacement and the terrorism in the light of the war on Syria, the recession, and the unemployment in the light of the failure which affected the European project after the fall of the bets on weakening Russia as an indispensable  source of gas, and the controlling of the resources of the Chinese energy by subjugating Iran. But the campaigns led by America and then by France to achieve these goals failed. The allies’ front has started to regress after the exit of Britain out of the EU, and the attempt of the un-globalized fund in America to take the role of the global policeman along with the adoption of the arrival of Donald Trump to the White House before he was trained and tamped by the globalization institutions in America.

Macron represents the policy of denial which is practiced by those concerned about globalization after their defeat, so in order to ensure their winning they brought the appropriate opponent. An opponent that it is easy to be invested to make the French people in front of the two choices; the fear or Macron after the Republican Francois Fillon was alienated in an invented way, although the observers meet on ensuring his wining in presidency, but for the campaigns which were against him and led to his failure in reaching the second stage, if he was allowed to continue he would win presidency versus Macron or Le Pen, the ensuring of the winning of Macron was in accordance with restricting the competition between him and Le Pen, while the French would be responsible for the rest. Marine Le Pen’s project was foreshadowing the French people with the fear of the unknown within a discourse that threatens of civil war among the French people depending on the color of their skin, and their religion, moreover it grants the terrorism an incubating environment that contains five million Muslims who will be exposed to torture if Le Pen wins, in addition to another unknown that is represented by the impossibility of the exit of France from the EU without destroying it. Knowing that it is in the center of the Union, and it is no longer has its special currency as Britain. So it is logical that France chooses between the unknown and the continuation of the previous situation, not a preference for him but to prevent the reach to the unknown, so Macron wins with fewer voices than Chirac in 2002 versus his father.

What will Macron do in confronting the French challenges; the economy and the war on terrorism in particular? France is burdened with burdens which Macron did not have responses for them despite the improving aspects promoted by the followers of Macron, as revitalizing the economy by reducing the taxes on the major companies as a recipe for the globalization, but it is an experienced failed recipe, because it will not encourage but only the money and the real estate companies and the barters, while the productive sector which needs for customs protection will continue regressing and the labor sectors will supply the unemployment with new figures, here is the importance of Fillon’s proposal of reformulating the EU according to the variables of the national economy and its protection, while in confronting the terrorism. Macron’s project is to continue following Hollande’s recipes which based on turning France to a follower of the US policies, and following Saudi Arabia and Israel and the cooperation with the Wahhabism and the Muslim Brotherhood. These two teams were vowed by Fillon to ban their presence in France in case of his winning.

The legislative elections will take place along with a parliament that will make it difficult for the president to form a government that is similar to him whatever there will be fierce promoting media campaigns and whatever how much money  and media will be spent. The parties which obtained in the first round a closer proportion of twenty percent are three; the radical left led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon and the extremist right led by Marine Le Pen and the Republican party with its new leadership after the stepping down of Fillon will share the 60% which they won in this session, while Macron will share with his allies in the Socialist party and some of the small parities the remaining 40%. The trade unions which received Macron with the general strike are continuing, they know Macron very well and he knows who support them, the danger of terrorism is remaining and the developments in Syria are resolved no matter if the French presidency changed, although Hollande himself who is Macron’s reference was unable to change them, which means that the first year of Macron will disclose him gradually in front of the French people to reach to the proportion  of 7% which Hollande reached after years.

Macron is repetitive copies of Hollande but with industrial coat that soon will be removed and the forged goods will be revealed.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

 

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هل الانتخابات الفرنسية نقطة تحوّل؟

مايو 9, 2017

ناصر قنديل

– أُعطي فوز إيمانويل ماكرون بالرئاسة الفرنسية حجماً دولياً وإقليمياً كبيراً لدرجة وصفه بالتحوّل الكبير في السياسات، وحُشدت لصالح هذه الفكرة اعتبارات من نوع التذكير بمشروع ماكرون الحزبي الذي ولد قبل عام ورُبط به تجديد الديمقراطية التي تشكّل فرنسا واحدة من قلاعها، كما استعرض آخرون تراجع وضع الأحزاب التقليدية التاريخية، خصوصاً الحزبين الجمهوري والاشتراكي، اللذين تقاسما تاريخ فرنسا السياسي لنصف قرن وأكثر، ووصل بعض الماكرونيين للتوقف أمام ما وصفه بالبرنامج التحديثي لماكرون سواء على الصعيد الاقتصادي أو الصعيد السياسي، متحدّثاً عن وسط جديد يستند إلى جمع الرأسمالية بالاشتراكية اقتصادياً، وجمع الوطنية الفرنسية بالعولمة سياسياً، والارتكاز على الشباب ووسائل التواصل في هيكلية جديدة وصفت بالثورية على مستوى العمل الحزبي.

– لدى أول تدقيق منهجي بالحملة الماكرونية فكرياً وسياسياً واقتصادياً تسقط كلّ الحجج المساقة، وينكشف ماكرون عن بدل عن ضائع لمرشح يلبّي تطلعات المصارف وكبريات الشركات الفرنسية من جهة، والحلف الذي يمثله السعوديون و«الإسرائيليون» في السياسات الإقليمية، يخلف فرنسوا هولاند، بعدما فشلت محاولات ترويض الحزب الجمهوري للمجيء بجاك شيراك جديد أو نيكولا ساركوزي جديد، يلبّي هذه السياسات، أمام تحدّيات متفاقمة تطال فرنسا واستقلالها السياسي في زمن الضعف الأميركي، ومخاطر النزوح والإرهاب في ضوء الحرب على سورية، والكساد والبطالة في ضوء الفشل الذي أصاب المشروع الأوروبي بعد سقوط الرهانات على إضعاف روسيا وترويضها كمورّد للغاز لا بديل عنه، والتحكم بموارد الطاقة الصينية عبر إخضاع إيران، وقد باءت الحملات التي قادتها أميركا والتحقت بها فرنسا لبلوغ هذه الأهداف بالفشل. وبدأ تداعي جبهة الحلفاء بخروج بريطانيا من الاتحاد الأوروبي، ومحاولة الرأسمال غير المعولم في أميركا الانتفاض على دور الشرطي العالمي مع تبنّي وصول دونالد ترامب إلى البيت الأبيض قبل أن تطوّعه وتروّضه مؤسسات العولمة في أميركا.

– ماكرون ممثل سياسة الإنكار التي يمارسها المعولمون بعد هزيمتهم، لذلك كي يضمنوا نصرهم استجلبوا الخصم المناسب إلى الحلبة، خصم يسهل وضع الفرنسيين أمامه بين خياري الذعر أو ماكرون، بعدما أبعد بطرق مفتعلة الجمهوري فرنسوا فيون الذي يُجمع المراقبون على ضمان فوزه بالرئاسة لولا الحملات التي استهدفته، وأدت إلى عدم بلوغه المرحلة الثانية ولو وصل بوجه ماكرون أو لوبان لضمن الرئاسة. وكان ضمان فوز ماركون وفقاً على حصر المنافسة بينه وبين لوبان، ويتكفل الفرنسيون بالباقي. فمشروع مارين لوبان كان يبشر الفرنسيين بالخوف من مجهول مع خطاب يهدّد بحرب أهلية بين الفرنسيين على لون بشرتهم ودينهم ويمنح الإرهاب بيئة حاضنة قوامها خمسة ملايين مسلم سيتعرّضون للتنكيل مع وصول لوبان. هذا عدا عن مجهول آخر يتمثل في استحالة خروج فرنسا من الاتحاد الأوروبي من دون هدمه، وهي في قلب الاتحاد وليست على طرفه، ولم يعُد لديها عملة خاصة كحال بريطانيا، ومنطقي أن تختار فرنسا بين المجهول واستمرار الحال السابق بقاء القديم على قدمه فيصل ماكرون بأصوات أقلّ من التي جاء بها شيراك عام 2002 بوجه والد لوبان، ليس تفضيلاً له بل منعاً لوصول الخوف من المجهول.

– ماذا سيستطيع ماكرون أن يفعل في مواجهة التحديات الفرنسية. فعلى صعيد التحديين الأهمّ الاقتصاد والحرب على الإرهاب، تنوء فرنسا تحت أعباء لا يملك ماكرون لها أجوبة رغم الفذلكات التجميلية التي يسوقها المروّجون للماكرونية، تنشيط الاقتصاد بتخفيض الضرائب على الشركات الكبرى هي وصفة العولمة، وهي وصفة مجربة وفاشلة. فهي لن تشجع إلا شركات المال والعقارات، والمضاربات، بينما القطاع الإنتاجي الذي يحتاج لحماية جمركية فسيستمرّ بالتراجع وقطاعات العمال سترفد البطالة بأرقام جديدة. وهنا تكمن أهمية طرح فيون بإعادة صياغة الاتحاد الأوروبي وفقاً لمتغيّرات الاقتصادات الوطنية وحمايتها، أما في مواجهة الإرهاب فمشروع ماكرون مواصلة السير في وصفات هولاند القائمة على تحويل فرنسا ذيلاً للسياسات الأميركية والسير وراء السعودية و«إسرائيل»، والتعاون مع الوهابية والإخوان المسلمين، وهما الفريقان اللذان تعهّد فيون بحظرهما في فرنسا في حال فوزه.

– ستأتي الانتخابات التشريعية وتحمل برلماناً يصعب على الرئيس تشكيل حكومة تشبهه مهما خيضت حملات إعلامية تسويقية ضارية، ومهما أنفق من مال واستهلك من إعلام. فالأحزاب التي نالت في الدورة الأولى نسباً متقاربة بحدود العشرين في المئة، وهي ثلاثة، اليسار الراديكالي بزعامة جان لوك ميلنشون، واليمين المتطرف بزعامة مارين لوبان، والحزب الجمهوري بزعامته الجديدة بعد تنحّي فيون، سيتقاسمون الـ60 التي حصدوها في هذه الدورة. وسيتقاسم ماكرون مع حلفائه في الحزب الاشتراكي وبعض الأحزاب الصغيرة الـ 40 الباقية، ونقابات العمال التي استقبلت ماكرون بالإضراب العام باقية على طريقها تعرف ماكرون جيداً ويعرفها هو ومن ورائه حيتان المال، وخطر الإرهاب باقٍ، والتطوّرات في سوريا محسومة الاتجاه لا يغير فيها تغيير الرئاسة الفرنسية التي كان أستاذ ماكرون هولاند نفسه عاجزاً عن تغييرها، ما يعني أن سنة ماكرون الأولى ستتكفل بتعريته تدريجياً أمام الفرنسيين لينال نسبة الـ7 التي وصلها هولاند بعد سنوات.

– ماكرون نسخة مكرّرة عن هولاند مع ماكياج بطلاء صناعي سرعان ما يزول وتنكشف البضاعة المزوّرة.

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Macron wins – the 24% who voted for him rejoice, the rest sigh

May 09, 2017

by Ramin MazaheriMacron wins – the 24% who voted for him rejoice, the rest sigh

Communist ideas have won concessions from industry, but they have been unable to stop high finance from exploiting workers.

That is the big battle today. Only revolutionary and heavily socialist countries like Iran, Cuba and China – as well as dictatorships like South Korea in the past – have been able to stop domination by international finance.

France, however, has fearfully rushed into the arms of the candidate who wants your wages to pay for bad loans: former Rothschild banker Emmanuel Macron.

It’s almost insulting to take orders from a 39-year old who didn’t come to power at the end of the gun or at the front of a massive revolution, because how can such a young person not be the puppet of older, richer interests?

There’s no way Macron is as smart, experienced and mature as he believes himself to be, or as they want us to believe. It’s “not polite” by French campaign standards, but I note that his record as Economy Minister produced only economic stagnation and record-high unemployment.

I talk to people in France about how they will vote all the time, even though it’s also “not polite” by French standards. Hogwash. Emmanuel only has two appeals: first, he is young and new blood in a country run by an aged, corrupt aristocracy, and second, he is not Marine Le Pen.

Of course Emmanuel won: Le Pen lost in 2nd round head-to-head polling at all times and against everyone. I mean in every…single…poll since polling began in January.

We were hoping against hope, and because hope was a terrible, incompetent, neo-fascist candidate – hope lost.

Huge change from 2012 – there is no joy in Mudville. I can assure you that France’s spirit of resistance was alive and well in 2012. Ahhhh, austerity was so young back then – it’s so firmly-rooted now.

Francois Hollande was elected on a promise to fight high finance, fight Germany, end austerity and renegotiate EU treaties. The French people were 100% correct to be so optimistic – who can live in cynicism?

But who could have expected that Hollande would make such an undemocratic U-turn? His U-turn threatened to destroy the European Union, which has only been given a stay of execution with Macron’s victory. Even though Hollande couldn’t even run for re-election, nobody with any sense of justice thinks that is fair reparations.

I must pause here for a word on civil war: France talks about the possibility of a civil war an inordinate amount. And I perceived this years before this election involving Le Pen.

In the US that’s relegated to beyond the suburbs…half the country, sure. Of course, the English say the same thing. The Spanish may split over Catalonia. Scotland may break off. Ireland remains divided. Italy barely has a government. Belgium didn’t have one for a year (such Parliamentary gridlock is France’s future).

Only the Germans are happy with their leadership. And why not: everyone in the West “admires them”. Not me – higher poverty rate than France, for starters.

My point is: Western society, and not just France, is fractured in a terrible, horrible way. The lack of unity – even if only perceived – is staggering for a region of the world enjoying such enormous relative prosperity. There is, clearly, a problem in their culture.

Cuba doesn’t have this problem. Nor China. Iran – once you get out of rich North Tehran – will almost certainly have a higher voter participation rate in their elections this month than France, and France’s is still among the highest in the West.

The fear of civil war is a major Western phenomenon, and it was a major reason why people voted for Macron/against Le Pen

What do you expect? You’re all divided into parts of unequal sizes

That’s what identity politics is: Is a Black’s ideas worth more than a Gay? Seems like a Transgender rules the roost in 2017, especially if he/she has to go to the bathroom.

Can the White Nationalists fly their flag at the statehouse or not? We better ask the opinion of the left-handed homemakers north of the Mason-Dixon but west of the Mississippi who prefer jam to Nutella on partially-cloudy days – I’m sure their lobby group is being formed.

Or you could just have what works: Class politics.

Us versus the 1 billionth percent, the 8 people who own half the world’s wealth.

Anyone who supported Le Pen was browbeaten with insults against their character, intelligence and morality. Identity politics are not only about inclusion – I am in this group – it is about exclusion: You have to be like this or you are not in this group.

And who doesn’t want to be in the group the entire media (no exaggeration) said was the “good” one?

Because France does not accept multi-culturalism, promoting assimilationism instead, identity politics in France has a different face. The “in group” here is simply “France”. That’s why Macron saved this big PR gun for the final week of campaigning: “The National Front is the anti-France party”.

It resonated, even though the National Front is the most hyper-patriotic party.

Anyway, I ardently supported Marine Le Pen for two weeks – between the two rounds of voting – does that make me anti-France? Or does it make me a fascist and a racist? I’d swear at you but this is a family publication.

Fascism is a real dirty word over here. It’s not that way in the US because American fascists won WWII and thus were never discredited, like over here. People here had relatives die fighting German, Austrian & Italian fascists.

The past is indeed history, and history is indeed past

France also succumbed to the idea that the fascists their grandfathers fought are the real problem, as if France fought a civil war instead of the Germans in World War II.

More than identity politics, Macron won because France was convinced that the father of Marine Le Pen is more important than her ideas to rectify the very different problems of 2017. But high-speed trading didn’t exist in 1941. There was no European Union. In 1941 there was actually a Left in the West, LOL.

“You don’t see it, Ramin,” they told me “the threat of the National Front.”

What I see is you guys taking a backseat to Germany.

But, I’m exaggerating: I see France colluding with the Germans. Again, just like in World War II.

That is EXACTLY what has happened! Check the data: Which banks are leveraged in Greece? German AND French are the top two. Who funds the European Central Bank? The main percentage comes from Germany, with France in a very close 2nd place – we are talking dozens of billions of much-needed euros.

Acting as if Germany pays everything, does everything, plans everything – this is an Anglo-Saxon view not based on reality. I assume it is related to the historical Northern European view of their genetic supremacy over everyone else, including Southern and Eastern Europe.

But, that’s just more identity politics. It ignores the class view, as usual. The reality is that French capitalism is hugely a part of the neo-imperialist project of the European Union to cannibalize other Europeans – it’s not all Germany.

Le Pen would get that – Macron would think I am speaking Greek. Oh well.

Crying ‘terrorism’ is not just for kicks and giggles

But let’s not insult everybody in France as being class ignoramuses – this is not America: the French got two such bad candidates by another primary tactic of high-finance: the security state.

The first round vote was on April 23, and I already wrote a column about how terrorism was in the headlines an inordinately suspicious amount in the week prior to that vote.

And in the 14 days since April 23rd France’s security state made sure terrorism-related raids and announcements were in the headlines almost every day. Should we be surprised anymore? I made a list:

April 24-26: Fourteen arrests made in France and Belgium on terrorism.

April 25: Five more arrests in alleged Marseilles planned terrorism attack.

April 25: National homage to the cop killed on the Champs-Elysees.

April 27: Raid on an alleged terrorist’s home in Réunion. Two cops shot.

April 28: Citing the war on terrorism, police will ban traffic information apps from warning of radar traps and other police stops.

May 2: Five arrests in anti-terrorism.

May 3: Judgment in a high-profile “apology of terrorism” case.

May 3: In the lone presidential debate Macron said that terrorism will be the “focus of his 5 years”. 30 minutes of terrorism discussion, which preceded the debate on the European Union.

May 4: National day of homage to all cops killed in France.

This is an incomplete list. I can assure you that the French anti-terrorism units do not work this often in normal times – we’d all be in jail if they did.

The canard of terrorism was employed by Hollande to undemocratically ram through right-wing economic measures designed to benefit the bondholder class. It was also used to put Macron in office and, as I listed, Macron plans to keep it there.

Ultimately, there is still no plan in effect to win concessions from high finance. Le Pen would not have provided a solution, but she would have at least been a monkey wrench; she would at least have provided a temporary respite; she would at least have provided the chance to discuss solutions.

Finance is international, but Europe requires a unique solution because the creation and support for the European Union means they have a uniquely European problem.

I have no ideas, and neither do the faux-left supporters of Macron. They just keep telling me: “We’ll take to the streets to fight austerity”. Hey, jerk, check the scoreboard – we did that all the time under Hollande: we lost.

Macron will continue the neoliberal policies which didn’t work while he was minster, and they will not work now.

Ultimately, the election of Macon just kicks the can down the road. Prior to the election this was repeatedly written by mainstream journalists to describe the necessary economic “reforms” France resisted implementing. Absurd, these “deforms”.

What is postponed are the revolutionary, pro-communist changes which put finally the people ahead of the financial class, which is the new aristocracy.

Postscript – the Macron Era, Day 1 of 1,826.25

The above was written on election night. I was planning to finish it in between my 10 scheduled live interviews for Press TV, but at this point in the column the Le Pen camp refused my entry to their headquarters, denying me a place to do some of those interviews and also to finish this column.

I wasn’t the only one – Le Monde, Mediapart and reportedly many other media were the victims of the Le Pen campaign’s allegedly accidental and regrettable choice to choose a small, swanky locale for their HQ.

Maybe such treatment was a harbinger of things to come and we dodged a bullet by avoiding the National Front and their anti-press neo-fascism?

Problem is, Macron banned Russian media a couple weeks earlier.

Problem is, prior to that Hollande took Press TV and all Iranian media off France’s state-run satellite Eutelsat, in a clear case of censorship.

Anyway, the day after the election Hollande joined Macron for the WWII Victory Day memorial and then immediately flew to Berlin to meet Merkel. Isn’t that fitting? And there were thousands already protesting Macron, with plenty of police brutality. I wanted to cover it but my cameraman begged off, citing fatigue. Honestly, I felt the same way.

Glass half-full: Macron is from the younger, less-racist generation. Maybe he’ll be able to take a firm stance on France’s xenophobic nonsense?

Problem is, his team threatened to close the nation’s Islamophobia watchdog, saying they are “in danger.” Pretty Le Pen-like, if you ask me, which is what I always said.

I really cannot even stomach reading the mainstream media’s take on France’s election, but people seem to be talking like Trump was avoided in France. People only say that because the economic angle – the class angle – is systematically repressed in favor of the economic angle.

Macron is going to wage an (economic) extremist war on the French public, and who can be excited about that? Nobody is excited about Macron here except unmarried, middle-aged women, who have finally found someone who won’t ignore them. I don’t want to rain on their honeymoon, though, so “Sweet dreams, ladies.”

Just do the math: 25% abstained and 12% submitted blank ballots (LOL, a record), meaning only 67% of the total electorate issued an acceptable vote. That drops Macron’s alleged final score of 66% down to 42% of the total electorate. Now subtract the 43% of Macron’s voters who say the voted to block Le Pen. That means only 24% of the total electorate voted for Macron’s personality or his policies.

Only 24% of France truly voted for Macron. So forget what the financial/foreign press says: there is no joy in Mudville, French democracy has struck out.

But the beat goes on. And for the next five years I’m covering the exact same news beat – Hollande (Jr.) and austerity.

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.

Je Suis Charlie to MacronLeaks? France’s ‘free press’ takes credibility hit

May 07, 2017

by Ramin MazaheriJe Suis Charlie to MacronLeaks? France’s ‘free press’ takes credibility hit

I don’t understand: I thought the French were passionately in love with liberty of the press?

That’s what they said when they just HAD to publish pictures of the Prophet Muhammad in Charlie Hebdo. And some of these pictures were absolutely pornographic, let’s not forget – they were not respectful, tolerant or even neutral. Heck, one showed Prophet Muhammad actually filming a porn movie.

But I thought it was a question of the responsibility of the press to be brave and publish what may get them in trouble? And the right to political speech? And of personal freedom?

That’s what was self-righteously proclaimed by one French media after another, after another, after another and after another to anyone who would listen around the world.

The common Frenchman, too: I’ve never seen more people in one place than the 4-million person demonstration in support of Charlie Hebdo. I asked some tough questions there in my work as Iran’s Press TV correspondent, despite the pleas of my cameraman to think of our own skin.

And yet it seems the first rule of MacronLeaks is: Don’t talk about MacronLeaks.

The morning after the hacked emails of the Macron campaign were released the French Electoral Commission menacingly warned that nobody was permitted to publish to the contents of the leaks. The leaks were tens of thousands of emails, notes, bills and internal discussions.

What was inside? Can’t tell ya – I’m a journalist.

It wasn’t as if the French people didn’t have access to this information: MacronLeaks are all over Twitter and social media.

So this 11th-hour election twist means that France is living in a state of forced denial, and this denial is forced by the state. A good word for that is “authoritarian”. Hey, due to the ongoing state of emergency (18 months and to be extended by either presidential candidate) this is officially a “police state dictatorship”, after all.

Authoritarianism has become old hat for us in France!

But if this was Russia and it was Vladimir Putin’s chosen successor instead of Francois Hollande and his chosen boy Emmanuel Macron, what would the French media be saying? Stupid question: They’d be screaming “censorship, censorship, censorship”.

It’s appalling: There hasn’t been ONE French media willing to courageously publish when no one else will.

Leaks just don’t sell as many newspapers as naked cartoons, I guess? What happened to the infamous French provocateur? I’d even settle for one of those annoying types right about now.

Imagine if Marine Le Pen was up 62% to 38% instead of Macron? I’m sure SOME media would have published LePenLeaks, and justified it by “standing up to fascism”.

But the French don’t stand up to capitalism. Certainly not when they seem about to elect Rothschild banker and pro-austerity Macron in about 8 hours. Certainly they don’t stand up for communism anymore.

But boy oh boy, don’t they talk a lot of stuff about their love of a free press? And when you don’t back it up….

Censoring will have the opposite effect of discrediting the media & the election

It’s crucial to know there is not one major media in France which is pro-Le Pen.

This is very different from Brexit, where newspapers made explaining the Brexit rationale a daily occurrence. It’s also different from the US, where Trump at least had Fox News to give his side. Seemingly everybody with power, money and influence – and I mean everybody – is against Le Pen.

Le Pen supporters already had cause to claim, 100% fairly, media bias: The MacronLeaks self-censorship will be also fairly viewed as just another step in this direction.

Whether you agree with the decision or not, the fact is that nearly 40% of voters are expected to vote for Le Pen. Add in some abstentionist sympathizers and we can accurately predict that half the country is going to view France’s media as being in total collusion against their candidate.

They are turning to the “Fourth Estate” for guidance and what they found at the top of the France 24 website was this story: Reproduction of whales and dolphins in captivity banned. How can France’s media not lose credibility with such nonsense?

That’s why Twitter Francais was full of condemnations like this one: “The oligarchy will be scandalized by its methods. This is why people go elsewhere than the mainstream for information. This is all that the journalists of BFMacron can do?” (BFM is one of the two top TV news channels here.)

The French establishment is trying to protect its election (or its preferred candidate, perhaps), but half the country is going to see this self-censorship as undermining the credibility of the election itself. Also from Twitter: The censoring of the French media on the MacronLeaks revelations before the decision of the French people is a reason to invalidate the vote.

This is the anti-Macron camp on Twitter, and they are right.

The pro-Macron camp on Twitter encouraged each other to post pictures of cats. This was in order to bog down Twitter in feline stupidity and not allow their fellow citizens to see what the future president was up to.

So why didn’t I publish the contents – I’m a journalist in France?

That’s an honest question, and I’ll give an honest answer:

That decision was above my pay grade.

Like many journalists, I am not in charge – I’m just a worker. I can decide for myself, but I cannot decide for my media. My views on it appear to be clear.

I think the point of view of Press TV is that: We have already been banned by France’s state-run satellite company during the Hollande administration…what do we need even more harassment for?

After all, I could barely find anybody in France to stand up for Iran’s right to freedom of the press at this censorship. Even the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders refused to give an interview to me to attack this ban and to defend Iran’s rights. LOL at that NGO’s “apolitical” reputation. LOL at their hypocrisy.

I’m not trying to sound “tough” – I was very conflicted about MacronLeaks and it’s not certain I would have revealed the contents if the choice was mine to make. What made it much harder was that, for sure, I would have been the first.

I am a foreign journalist – why aren’t the domestic media leading the way?

They have all the contacts, all the ability to fight in courts, all the language-skills to explain to a judge, all the reasons to defend their press. It is their country, after all – I’m not even a citizen.

So I understand Press TV’s view.

But there are certainly many French journalists who feel disappointed with their publishers and their colleagues, and they should feel that way.

Rules are made to broken – failing to do so leaves only questions

Ok, 36 hours is not much time to verify the veracity of the leaks, but I ask you: Which media refused to publish the allegations about conservative candidate Francois Fillon and “Penelopegate” over these very same alleged concerns?

Or which media refused to publish the allegations concerning Marine Le Pen and her EU ghost jobs scandal?

The answer is, “none”. So why is Macron getting preferential treatment?

If the answer is, “Because it’s too close to the election,” I find that very unsatisfying. Truth, justice, transparency and the peoples’ right to know does not have a date.

If the answer is, “Because it’s the law,” I find that unsatisfying as well. However, I did not realize just how anally-retentive about the law the French were until I moved here – it goes against the common stereotype. They have been, as we all inevitably are, greatly influenced by their neighbors, the anal-retentive kings – the Germans. France has not fallen far from that tree.

If the answer is, “Because foreigners are trying to influence our election,” I find that unsatisfying as well. Learning the truth about a candidate is the most important – have we not seen how badly Hollande lied and backtracked to the French? Learning the truth is the best safeguard to democracy – the source of the truth and their motives are totally irrelevant.

Macron and his team are asking to serve as public servants: How does transparency not trump their right to privacy? Mustn’t elected officials be held to a higher standard?

This censorship cuts both ways, including against Macron’s rights: By denying all discussion, how can Macron clear his name? Surely some will say that Macron is guilty by suspicion, and that is not fair either. Of course, with a 20+ point lead he just wants to tread water and say as little as possible – this has been his election strategy all this time, in fact.

Ultimately, it is the public which must be made king: Otherwise you have an oligarchy. The media’s complicity in the MacronLeaks affair will only increase accusations that this is the true nature of France.

Plenty of proof that France censors only when it wants to

The fact is that assuming these leaks were some sort of “disinformation campaign” is not based on any proof.

WikiLeaks, who was not behind the leaks, said that they appeared credible. When is the last time such a big leak proved out to be false? Whistleblowers like this have a very good record.

But if the whistleblower thought this would have an effect like in the United States, he was sorely mistaken. The French are not going to go hog-wild over conspiracy theories like the Obama Birther Movement in the US.

What’s more likely is that the whistleblower had the data, and realized he had no smoking gun. So he waited until the campaign ended, hoping that innuendo would do what his hacked data could not.

Am I even allowed to print that? Dear Paris prosecutors, please note I am only hypothesizing that there is no smoking gun, maybe there is!

I have had to make that same half-serious, half-pathetic plea for other cases in France recently: covering “apology for terrorism” cases. That’s another example – hundreds of examples – where France clearly cared nothing for freedom of speech: you had minors, drunks and mentally ill citizens accused by hearsay, jailed, tried and sentenced over just a few days.

French media doesn’t like to make a fuss about that, either.

Back to MacronLeaks: By releasing this so close to the election there’s a fair case to be made that this is not whistleblowing but manipulation, and those are two different things.

The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. But the first rule of MacronLeaks is that we can’t talk about them….

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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