Category Archives: France

When “War is Peace”: “Peace Prizes” Awarded to War Criminals

By Timothy Alexander Guzman
February 24, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – French President François Hollande was awarded UNESCO’s Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize for “valuable contribution to peace and stability in Africa” according to the United Nations website: Former Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano, chaired the Jury of the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize stated that “After analyzing the global situation, it is Africa that held the attention of the Jury with the various threats affecting the continent” with instability affecting Northern Mali by various Al-Qaeda elements created by the west, gave France an opportunity to invade the former colony. “Having assessed the dangers and the repercussions of the situation on Africa, and on Mali in particular, as well as on the rest of the world, the Jury appreciated the solidarity shown by France to the peoples of Africa.” Does appreciating “the solidarity” shown by France mean killing hundreds of Malian people since the invasion? France has killed many civilians that includes children. The human rights organization Amnesty International has accused French forces of killing civilians since there was “evidence that at least five civilians, including three children, were killed in an airstrike.” UNESCO’s Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize is similar to the Nobel Peace Prize whose past winners were known for war crimes.
Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the notorious war criminal responsible for an estimated 3 to 4 million deaths during the Vietnam War including the bombing of Cambodia was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973. He was responsible for the overthrow of President Salvador Allende of Chile and installed Fascist General Augusto Pinochet which created a “Police State” among the Chilean population. Kissinger also was instrumental in giving support to one of the worst dictatorships in human history, the Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot. Henry Kissinger committed many other crimes including genocide under both Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford as an “advisor” under the NSA (National Security Agency) and as Secretary of State. President Barack Obama was also awarded the Nobel Peace Prize although he was in office less than a year. Obama has expanded Drone wars in Pakistan and Yemen, opened several US military bases in Colombia and one in Chile, he ordered a war in Libya without congressional approval, maintained a military presence in Iraq and escalated the war in Afghanistan. Obama’s record of peace on the international level is questionable. Obama said that he was “Surprised” and “deeply humbled” after he received the award. He said the Nobel Peace Prize is a “Call to Action”, meaning more war. It is fair to say that the US government has been involved in many “actions” across the world, whether militarily or economically that has done more harm than good.
The Nobel Peace Prize has also awarded three Israeli Prime ministers that have systematically committed numerous crimes against Palestinians that includes Menachem Begin in 1978, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres in 1994. UNESCO’s Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize also awarded Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres in 1993 along with Yasser Arafat of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) during the Oslo I Accord as an attempt by both sides to set up a roadmap to a resolution to end the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. The Oslo Accords actually failed since Israel never ended its occupation and continued to build “Israeli Settlements.” The Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize in 1994 and the Nobel Prize in 2002 were both awarded to former US President Jimmy Carter. Carter supported the dictatorship of the Shah of Iran and The Somoza dictatorship of Nicaragua. He also supported Indonesia’s Suharto militarily and diplomatically during the invasion and occupation of East Timor. Under President Carter, US Military Aid to Suharto’s Military increased under Carter causing the deaths of over 200, 000 East Timorese. UNESCO’s Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize and the Nobel Peace Prize are in fact an insult to “World Peace”. UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and the Nobel Peace Prize have both proved that “Western political influence” dominate both prizes. Both awards for “Peace” are just a propaganda tool for Western Powers to wage war to establish peace. The war on Mali will expand under Hollande since his new peace award would allow him and other key players such as AFRICOM to wage war to establish peace. George Orwell was correct when he wrote in his classic book “1984” that “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery and Ignorance is Strength.” Mali will see more war because peace is on the agenda, right?
This article was originally posted at Silent Crow News

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France escalates Mali war amid Algerian hostage crisis

By Kumaran Ira 
18 January 2013
France has increased its troop deployment in Mali to 1,400, amid escalating fighting with Islamist-led rebels who control northern Mali and a hostage crisis at an Algerian natural gas complex that was seized in retaliation for the French war in Mali.
Yesterday, the Algerian military attacked the strategic gas complex in In Amenas, near the Libyan border, with tanks and helicopters. Armed militants of the Al Qaeda-linked Battalion of Blood brigade claimed to have taken 41 foreigners hostage. Some 30 hostages and 11 Islamist militants were killed in the strike, according to the Algerian government. The In Amenas facility’s output is valued at $4 billion per year and amounts to 12 percent of Algeria’s production of natural gas, and fully 18 percent of its critical natural gas exports. As Italy reported a 17 percent shortfall in its gas imports from Algeria, energy industry analysts said the fighting would prompt Europe to rely more on Russian natural gas exports.
Washington reportedly flew a reconnaissance drone over the site to monitor the fighting.
Paris seized on the attack as a pretext to defend its decision to invade Mali, which it claims is part of a war on Islamist terrorism. French President François Hollande said, “What’s happening in Algeria justifies even more the decision I took in the name of France to go to Mali’s aid.”
France launched the war in Mali last Friday to defend the unpopular military junta of Captain Amadou Sanogo, which still controls southern Mali, after rebels captured the strategic town of Konna. They are struggling, however, to halt the rebels’ southward advance. France plans to ultimately deploy 2,500 troops and continue aerial bombardment of its former West African colony.
Fighting between French and Malian troops and rebel forces continued Thursday in Diabaly, only 220 miles north of the capital, Bamako, as the French air force continued to bomb the town.
Despite French air strikes and ground assaults, however, the village remained under rebel control. The Associated Press quoted a resident of Niono: “There were bombardments last night in Diabaly and civilians have continued to come here to Niono, this morning I saw people who came from Diabaly and the Islamists still occupy the city.”
As forces have been deployed north, Islamist forces were spotted in the town of Banamba, only 72 miles from Bamako, highlighting the Malian army’s inability to halt the rebel advance. Troops from nations of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which has pledged to send 3,300 troops to assist France’s war, are slated to reinforce in those areas.
Reuters cited a senior Malian military source: “Banamba is in a state of alert. Reinforcements have been sent. Nigerian troops expected to arrive in Bamako today could be deployed there to secure the zone.”
There were no reports of civilian casualties due to the latest French air strikes, though the bombings will obviously lead to a sharp spike in deaths. Initial reports of French air strikes against Gao and Konna earlier this week estimated there were between 60 and 100 people killed, respectively, in those two cities, including civilians torn to pieces by bombs and children who drowned in a river trying to escape the explosions.
French officials cynically claimed that they would try to avoid harming civilians. Admiral Edouard Guillaud told RTL radio, “France would do its utmost to avoid civilian casualties. When in doubt, we will not fire.”
European Foreign ministers held a meeting in Brussels to discuss the Malian crisis yesterday, endorsing the French war and authorizing a military training mission to help the Malian army.
The French war in Mali aims neither to fight terrorism nor to establish democracy. Hollande is waging a reactionary war to prop up a Bamako regime dominated by the Sanogo junta and to enforce its authority in northern Mali against Islamist forces and northern Malian separatist groups. Its ultimate goal is to defend French imperialism’s substantial corporate and military interests in Mali and in its other former West African colonies.
In so doing, Paris is intervening in defiance of the northern Malian population’s well-known sectional hostility to the corrupt Bamako regime. This policy of presenting this war as a war for democracy and against terrorism is deeply cynical, as Paris and other NATO powers are simultaneously collaborating with Al Qaeda-linked forces in their war in Syria.
A desert and mountainous region, Northern Mali has long been a quasi-autonomous area, dominated by Tuaregs and ethnic Arabs hostile to the central government in Bamako formed after the 1960 decolonization of French West Africa. In the 1970s and 1980s, there were repeated uprisings and protests in northern Mali against Bamako, particularly by the Tuaregs.
After a Tuareg rebellion in early 1990s, the Gaddafi regime offered Tuaregs high-ranking posts in the Libyan army. In a 2012 interview with the French magazine L’Express, Touré said: “On the local Arabo-Tuareg rebellions, Gaddafi engaged in negotiations, disarmament, and finding positions for the rebels. … Very early on, we alerted NATO to the collateral damage the Libyan crisis would have. We were not listened to.”
The Libyan regime also helped the Malian government financially after its devastating privatization and austerity policies of the 1980s, which allowed French capital to take major stakes in Mali. As Touré told L’Express, “Libya made substantial investments in hotels, tourism, agriculture, and banking, thus contributing to our development.”
The Malian crisis exploded after the NATO war in Libya. Tuaregs, who had fought alongside Gaddafi’s troops and were persecuted under conditions in which the NATO-backed “rebels” were hunting down people with black skins, returned to Mali in early 2012, many of them heavily armed. They helped Northern Malian rebel groups defeat the Malian army. Islamist militant groups—including Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Movement for Jihad and Unity in West Africa (MUJAO), Ansar Dine, and the Nigerian group Boko Haram—also played an important role, imposing Sharia law on an increasingly hostile population.
Sanogo deposed President Touré ahead of the April presidential elections, as military officers accused Touré of failing to deal effectively with the Tuareg rebellion. After initially trying to organize an economic blockade to bring down the Sanogo junta, France, ECOWAS, and the imperialist powers ultimately decided to back it against the rebels in northern Mali.
French imperialism fears that a collapse of the Bamako regime would undermine its influence with regimes in the region. France has significant corporate interests in West Africa, varying from energy and mining resources to cheap labor for French industry. It is relying on military force to protect its interests against rivals in the region, in particular China. It will use these forces above all to suppress working class opposition to French imperialist domination of the region.

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France launches war in northern Mali

By Ernst Wolff and Alex Lantier 
14 January 2013
French aircraft and ground troops attacked Islamist rebel forces in northern Mali on Friday and over the weekend, while hundreds more French troops arrived in Mali’s capital Bamako.
Without even consulting the parliament, which will take up the issue today, French President François Hollande declared an open-ended war in Mali, ostensibly to help the Malian government fight Al Qaeda-linked forces among the rebels. He said the war would last “as long as necessary.”
The Islamist Ansar Dine militia reportedly threatened to overrun a major Malian government airfield in nearby Sévaré, which is considered vital for any military intervention in northern Mali. This militia has controlled much of northern Mali since last April, after Tuareg forces fleeing the NATO war in Libya forced weak and divided Malian government forces out of the northern part of the country. For months, France and its NATO allies have been planning war in Mali.
On Thursday, the rebels captured the village of Konna after heavy fighting with government forces. The French Air Force retaliated, striking Konna on Friday and killing approximately 100 people. A French helicopter pilot was reportedly killed by small arms fire, and 11 Malian soldiers fighting alongside the French were killed. French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the Islamists were driven out of Konna but remained in the area after “intensive fighting.”
Ansar Dine spokesman Sanda Ould Bouamana told Al Jazeera, “The terrorist French military bombed Konna. The hospitals are now filled with the injured—women, children, and the elderly are the main victims. It’s impossible to know how many have been killed, but the number is huge. Only five of those killed were our fighters. The rest are all innocent civilians killed by the indiscriminate bombing of the French air forces.”
Denying that his organization had ties to Al Qaeda, Bouamana added that Mali “will be the Afghanistan of the region, and France’s downfall.”
Air strikes continued over the weekend. On Sunday, Algeria gave France permission to use its airspace to reach targets in Mali, abandoning its traditional opposition to military intervention in the region. This allowed France to launch air strikes in Mali with jets stationed in France. French aircraft are also operating from bases in Mali and in neighboring Chad.
On Sunday, French jets bombed rebel supply depots and bases in the major northern cities of Gao and Kidal. A Malian official in Gao hostile to the rebels told the New York Times, “The hospital in Gao is overflowing. Both morgues in the city are filled with bodies.”
While carried out formally in cooperation with the coup-ridden Malian government, the French invasion of Mali is an act of imperialist brigandage. Justified to the Malian and French populations on the basis of cynical lies, the war will inflame a civil war that has already turned 300,000 Malians into refugees and set the entire Sahel afire.
As French bombs rained down on Mali, Hollande warned the country that it faces “aggression by terrorist elements” among the northern rebels. He added, “The terrorists must know that France will always be there when it is a matter not of its fundamental interests, but of the rights of a population, that of Mali, who wants to live freely and in a democracy.”
The pretense that France is rushing in to defend democracy against Al Qaeda, with total disregard for its own “fundamental interests,” is an absurd lie. First, the French government has no principled opposition to Al Qaeda. Libyan jihadist forces helped Paris and its NATO allies topple Muammar Gaddafi in the 2011 Libyan war, and Paris is still relying on the Al Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front in NATO’s proxy war against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
French imperialism is waging its war in Mali very much in line with its fundamental interests. A colony of France from 1892 to 1960, Mali is located in the geographical center of West Africa, a resource-rich area that was once the heart of France’s colonial empire.
French nuclear energy firm Areva has already mined 100,000 tons of uranium since 1968 in neighboring Niger and plans to open the world’s second-largest uranium mine there in 2014. The Hollande government is using the war to establish closer ties to the Algerian regime, which has immense reserves of natural gas. French forces are also deployed in Senegal, Burkina Faso and the Ivory Coast. All these countries are former French colonies.
France is working with the US, Britain, and other NATO allies to plan a broader intervention in Mali, for which various West African stooge regimes will provide ground troops. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon confirmed that Senegal and Nigeria had already sent “help” to Mali. Burkina Faso’s minister of foreign affairs announced that his country would send 500 troops after a meeting of parliament in the next couple of days.
On Saturday, a representative of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) announced that the organization would send troops to Mali by today. The rotating chairmanship of ECOWAS is currently held by Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara, who was installed in power by a French-backed UN military operation in April 2011 after disputed elections.
France’s right-wing parties lined up behind the war in Mali. Jean-François Copé, the spokesman of the Gaullist Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), promised Hollande his “support.”
French neo-fascist leader Marine Le Pen praised Hollande’s war as “legitimate,” adding: “Our country has been called to assist by Mali’s legitimate government in line with defense agreements between our two countries, in a French-speaking area.”
The Mali war is the first major war launched by Hollande’s Socialist Party government, which came to power last year. It is a devastating exposure of the role of petty-bourgeois “left” forces, such as the French Communist Party (PCF), the Left Front, and the New Anti-capitalist Party, which called for an unconditional vote for Hollande.
The intervention in Mali serves an important purpose for Hollande domestically—diverting attention from his vicious attacks on the French working class. It is no coincidence that, within hours of the assault on Mali, the Hollande government announced the most far-reaching “labor market reform” to date, including the imposition of more “flexible” working conditions. The measures, negotiated with the trade unions, were immediately hailed by the Medef employers’ association for “enabling the country to regain its competitiveness.”
France is working closely with NATO allies in its Mali war. The head of the US Africa Command, General Carter Ham, said the Pentagon was weighing a broad range of options to “support the French effort,” including intelligence-sharing and logistics support, but was not considering sending American troops. Washington is reportedly studying a French request for the US to allow France to use its drones.
British Prime Minister David Cameron’s office told AFP it was sending two transport planes to help bring in soldiers and equipment, but there would be no British troops on the ground.

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France’s Foreign Policy Breakdown

“Remodeling of the Greater Middle East.”

By Thierry Meyssan

September 02, 2012 “Information Clearing House” – The new French president, François Hollande, outlined his vision of international relations and foreign policy for his country on the occasion of the twentieth conference of French ambassadors. His speech was highly anticipated because he had never expressed himself on these issues, his experience being limited to the Socialist Party leadership and internal affairs.
Unexpectedly, he presented a synthesis of two currents within his party: on the one hand, the pro-US opportunists surrounding the former Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine and, on the other, the totally Atlantist and Zionist ideologues around the current finance minister, Pierre Moscovici.
Since the two groups do not share the same analysis, synthesis is reduced to a few points of consensus: the logic of blocs has vanished with the Soviet Union: the world has become unstable and needs to be regulated by international institutions; the Arab springs (with an “s”) confirm that the momentum of history is oriented toward the spread of the Western political model. Therefore, French influence can develop in two ways. First, by playing in all circumstances the role of mediator, Paris can use its flexibility to host international institutions despite the refusal of the Russians and Chinese to play the game according to the rules laid down by the United States. Then Paris can count on the Francophonie [1] to enjoy a natural sphere of influence.
The foreign policy of François Hollande is already obsolete even though his mandate is only beginning. It does not take into account the decline of the United States, the rise of Russia and China or the reorganization of international relations. It only contemplates adjustments with China, Japan and Turkey. It assumes that international institutions emerging from the balance of power at the end of the Second World War will survive and adapt spontaneously to the new paradigm. Finally, France hopes to exercize influence without a significant military force thanks to the Francophonie and intends, for reasons of economy, to share its defense budget with the United Kingdom.
In the same vein, the President reorganized the embassies so that economic goals could be assigned to them. In this way, he shared responsibilities between the two currents of the Socialist Party, respectively installed at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of the Economy. This is not a guarantee of consistency.
At his inauguration, François Hollande situated his five-year term under the auspices of Jules Ferry (1832-1893), a historical figure of French socialism. Ferry’s work can only be understood as an attempt by the bourgeoisie to escape its historical responsibilities (the liberation of Alsace-Moselle occupied and annexed by the Germans) by engaging in colonial expansion adorned with good sentiment. Not surprisingly, President Holland conforms to Ferry’s model. [2] After justifying his intention to do nothing to free his country from US tutelage, he unveiled his ambitions for Mali and Syria.
While specifying that the old days of French imperialism in Africa are over, he announced that Paris had sought a mandate from ECOWAS [3] to intervene militarily in Mali. This legal screen is hardly convincing: the organization is headed by Alassane Ouattara, whom the French army elevated to power in Ivory Coast last year. However, it does not appear that this expedition was prepared seriously, or that François Hollande has assessed its impact knowing that there are some 80 thousand Malians living in France.
Pressed by his opposition to show initiative with regard to Syria, François Hollande announced that Paris will recognize a provisional government once it is formed, that he is striving to bring Bashar al-Assad to the International Criminal Court and that France is preparing to rebuild the country. The military option was finally discarded, Syria having twice as many combat aircraft as France with better trained pilots, as noted by the former Air Force Chief of Staff, General Jean Fleury.
François Hollande’s initiative was not coordinated with his overlord. The same day, the spokesperson for the Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, swept these proposals aside. The United States has no intention of allowing Paris to concoct on its own a provisional government picked from the Syrian National Council (puppet of France and Qatar). The U.S. therefore required the participation of the National Coordination Board (independent), the Council for the Syrian Revolution (created by Saudi Arabia), and the Free Syrian Army (organized by Turkey on behalf of NATO).
Nor does Washington intend to entrust the French with the administration of Syria “the day after Bashar”. Especially since François Hollande spoke of the Syrian territories (with an “s” in reference to the three religious states (Alawite, Druze and Christian) that France had once created inside Syria. They were represented by three stars on the flag of the French mandate … recently become that of the “revolution.” The chiefs of staff of the U.S. have in mind a different breakdown of the country, within the framework of a “remodeling of the Greater Middle East.”
Ultimately, as in Libya, French dreams will not weigh heavily in the longstanding plans prepared by U.S. strategists. There is still no real French diplomatic strategy.

Translated from French by Roger Lagassé
[1Organisation de La Francophonie: community of people and countries using the French language
[2] “France According to François Hollande”, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Michele Stoddard, Voltaire Network, 4 August 2012.
[3] Economic Community Of West African States

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Corporate Lobbyists Threaten Democracy

By Julio Godoy
August 08, 2012 “Information Clearing House” — PARIS, Aug 8 2012 (IPS) – Over a month has passed since the United Nations summit on sustainable development concluded in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but the world still appears to be unaware of one of the most important statements made during the conference that drew some 50,000 delegates from all over the world.
Louise Kantrow, permanent representative of the International Chamber of Commerce, received thunderous applause when she told her audience on Jun. 19 that “businesses are taking the lead” in global negotiations on climate change and sustainable development.
For many observers, Kantrow’s blunt words highlighted just how strong of a grip private multinational companies have upon supposedly democratic processes.
In a statement aptly titled ‘Reclaim the U.N. from corporate capture’, the environmental organisation Friends of the Earth (FoE) complained that, “There are … real concerns about the increasing influence of major corporations and business lobby groups within the U.N.”
The report went on to detail the extraordinary level of businesses’ influence over the positions of national governments in multilateral negotiations.
“Business representatives dominate certain U.N. discussion spaces and some U.N. bodies; business groups are given a privileged advisory role; U.N. officials move back and forth (from) the private sector; and – last but not least – U.N. agencies are increasingly financially dependent on the private sector.”
One blatant example of this “corporate capture” of the U.N. is the Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell, which, thanks to senior executive representatives in several corporate lobbying groups, was omnipresent during the Rio+20 negotiations.
Shell sent delegates to the discussions and round tables of the above-mentioned International Chamber of Commerce, the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association, the U.N. Global Compact, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and the International Emissions Trading Association.
Yet, according to Paul de Clerck, campaign coordinator at FoE, “More than one year has passed since the U.N. presented its report on Shell’s pollution of Ogoniland (Nigeria). But we are still waiting for a comprehensive plan from Shell to clean up its mess.”
The first step recommended by the U.N. was the establishment of a one billion-dollar emergency fund to clean up the region.
“So far, Shell has committed to nothing, despite its participation in all kind of environmental and sustainable development debates,” Clerck told IPS.
“It is not acceptable that companies like Shell should be in the driving seat of processes for sustainable development,” Nnimmo Bassey, of FoE International, told IPS. “That is a recipe for disaster for our planet and peoples. Corporate polluters should not (be drafting) laws, they should face the laws.”
But the U.N. is not the only international institution threatened by the influence of multinational businesses.
Tightly woven groups of professional go-betweens and loyal supporters of multinationals who have passed through the revolving doors that link governments and private corporations are now facing growing scrutiny from civil society activists.
In Europe, the head of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, is facing a formal inquiry by the European Union (EU) ombudsman because of his membership in a well-known international banking lobby group. 
On Jul. 24, the ombudsman’s office announced that it was launching the investigation following allegations that Draghi’s membership in the so-called Group of 30 “is incompatible with the independence, reputation and integrity of the ECB”.
The EU has been the subject of multiple complaints, because, according to civil society groups, many of its agencies allow a revolving door to admit and dispatch senior executives who bring corporate agendas to democratic fora.
One of the leading critics of this policy, the Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), a multinational and public policy watchdog group, claims that many “senior European decision-makers leave office and go straight into lobby jobs, or (alternately) lobbyists join the EU institutions.”
In such cases, Olivier Hoedeman of CEO told IPS, “The risk of significant conflicts of interest is great, undermining democratic, public-interest decision making.”
According to Hoedeman, CEO “is working with the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation to challenge the revolving door and to demand that it is effectively regulated”.
CEO was the first group to complain about Draghi’s membership in the Group of 30, whose members include heavy-hitters in the international banking sector like William C. Dudley, former managing director at Goldman Sachs and former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
European activists and analysts have been growing more anxious about the influence of private investment banks on public financial policies, especially as the European sovereign debt continues to spiral out of control.
As CEO put it, “Given the euro crisis, the huge bailout operations of big banks, and the on-going debate on how to regulate banks in the light of the financial crisis, it should be obvious that safeguards are needed to ensure that the President of the European Central Bank remains independent.”
CEO argues that Draghi’s participation “in a closed, club-like structure with representatives from big international private banks could damage the integrity and reputation of the ECB.”
Indeed, Goldman Sachs’ links to numerous present officials at ministries of finance and other state agencies in Europe are extraordinary and worrisome. In a recent debate in Berlin, sociologist Wolfgang Streeck, director of the prestigious Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, denounced what he called “the diarchy in financial capitalism.”
Streeck said that European democratic states are presently suffering under the dictatorship of the deregulated financial markets, controlled by corporations like Goldman Sachs, while at the same time, most of their institutions are led by former executives of those very same corporations.
A salient example of Streeck’s thesis is the current, non-elected Italian head of government Mario Monti, who was the international adviser to Goldman Sachs from 2005 until 2011. In Goldman Sachs’ own words, Monti’s mission was to provide advice “on European business and major public policy initiatives worldwide.”
Given that Goldman Sachs and similar investment banks are pivotal in managing the sovereign debt of numerous European countries, it seems almost absurd that they are simultaneously preparing speculation schemes against the solvency of those very same states.
Following the announcement that the EU ombudsman had launched an official investigation into Draghi’s professional past, CEO has urged him to step down as president of the ECB.
In a letter addressed to Draghi, the group wrote, “Any president of the ECB has to make it absolutely clear that he or she is not under the influence of the financial lobby at any time. In particular at this dramatic point in the history of the EU, with the euro crisis and an ailing banking sector – recipient of trillions of euros in aid – it is completely unacceptable if doubt can be cast on the independence of the Bank’s president from the financial lobby.”
This article was originally published at IPS

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France’s Socialist Party government plans to force Roma into ghettos

By Kumaran Ira 
3 August 2012
France’s Socialist Party (PS) government has threatened to forcibly dismantle Roma encampments in France, raising the spectre of mass expulsions of Roma. It also announced plans to force the Roma into “integration villages.”
PS Interior Minister Manuel Valls is leading the campaign to close down Roma camps. On July 31 he told Europe1: “Prefects have a mission to dismantle Roma camps when there is a court ruling. Things are simple. Yes, when there is a court ruling the camps will be dismantled.”
While preparing measures to expel Roma, there are also plans to place them in the so-called “integration villages.” There, the Roma would be forced to remain in ultra-cheap prefabricated housing and monitored by state employees and security forces.
According to Le Monde, there are five villages and three more are under construction in Lille, the hometown of PS First Secretary and Lille mayor Martine Aubry. Under the guise of providing social support for Roma, the purpose of such “villages d’insertion” is to ghettoize the Roma population.
Valls’s campaign against the Roma is a clear expression of the reactionary character of PS government, which is continuing the persecution of Roma and other immigrants from the previous government of conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy.
In his speech in Grenoble on July 30,2010, President Nicolas Sarkozy called for dismantling Roma camps across France, penalizing families and stripping French citizenship from migrants. After his speech, Sarkozy’s government deported over 10,000 Roma to Romania and Bulgaria. An estimated 15,000 Roma live in improvised housing encampments on the edges of major cities throughout France.
The PS’ plans to attack the Roma expose the utter cynicism of the mild criticisms it made of Sarkozy’s anti-Roma policies during the 2012 presidential election campaign.
In March, while running as the PS presidential candidate, President François Hollande told pro-immigrant organizations: “When unhealthy camps are dismantled, alternative solutions must be proposed. We cannot continue to accept that families can be forced out of locations without solutions.”
Now that it has taken power, however, the Hollande administration is moving rapidly to abandon its criticisms of Sarkozy and embrace ethnic targeting of the Roma.
It is insisting that even the limited criticisms the press made of Sarkozy’s policies are no longer acceptable. Valls stated that he now wants to “deal with this subject with serenity. This is not easy. If the debate is carried out in public the way it was two years ago, it will be impossible.”
Valls’s comments have received full support from the entire political establishment. Eric Ciotti, a deputy of the conservative UMP (Union for a Popular Movement) opposition party, said of Valls: “If he carries them out [the dismantlings of Roma camps], I will support him.”
A spokesman for Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault praised Valls’ position: “This is a line that combines firmness and dignity while respecting Republican values.”
In the wake of Sarkozy’s Grenoble speech, some politicians and media commentators criticized him, describing his racial targeting of the Roma as anti-democratic. Sarkozy’s measures were widely compared with the persecution of ethnic minorities—including the Roma—under the Nazi-collaborationist Vichy regime during World War II. (See also: “Back to Vichy”).
Now, as the PS proposes a similar anti-Roma policy, they meet no opposition from within the political establishment. Petty-bourgeois “left” parties, like the New-Anti Capitalist party (NPA), which endorsed Hollande’s election, remain totally silent on Valls’s persecution of Roma.
In recent years, the French ruling class has systematically whipped up anti-immigrant prejudices, trampling basic democratic rights to divide the working class while pushing through cuts and waging deeply unpopular social cuts in wars abroad.
In 2004 former conservative President Jacques Chirac imposed a ban on headscarves in public schools, in order to stoke anti-Muslim sentiment. His successor, Sarkozy, continued with these anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant policies, notably by enforcing an anti-constitutional ban on publicly wearing the burqa, in order to appeal to voters of the neo-fascist National Front (FN) while making deep social cuts.
Hollande, who has already made clear that he will not repeal Sarkozy’s reactionary measures, is committed to using the same reactionary methods to stoke a racist atmosphere in France.
Having come to power in less than three months, the PS’s popularity is plummeting. In the name of promoting French competitiveness, the Hollande administration is proposing deep attacks against the working class—including massive cuts in social spending, a series of mass layoffs in numerous industries, and wage cuts and other labour market reforms.
The Hollande government is backing the automaker PSA Peugeot Citroën’s annoncement of shutting the Aulnay plant, near Paris, with the elimination of 8,000 jobs across France.
As unemployment and social inequality deepen, the PS anticipates bitter struggles from the working class. The persecution of Roma is part of a broader campaign to divert popular opposition to PS’s support for imperialist wars and austerity measures and block opposition in the working class by appealing to anti-immigrant hatreds.

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French unions sign concession deal with automaker PSA

By Kumaran Ira 
30 July 2012
On July 26 trade unions accepted sweeping concessions, including wage freezes and increased flexibility of working time proposed by the French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroën at its Sevelnord plant in the northern French town of Hordain, after two months of negotiations.
The deal, known as a “competitiveness agreement”, came after PSA announced the closure of its Aulnay plant near Paris and the loss of 8,000 job nationwide. PSA has threatened to shut down Sevelnord unless workers accept concessions, making clear that it would consider building its future K-Zero utility vehicle at Sevelnord only if its demands were met.
Sevelnord, which employs 2,700 workers, produces commercial vehicles and cars like the Peugeot 807 and Citroën C8, as well as Italian automaker Fiat’s Scudo model. Though Fiat pulled out of the joint venture, PSA has recently entered into another joint venture agreement with Toyota to produce midsize vans for the Japanese automaker at Sevelnord.
The contract calls Sevelnord “an attractive location for possible future projects to maintain industrial activity; the question of competitiveness is both necessary and determinant for the firm”.
The five-year agreement is part of PSA’s plan to slash workers’ living standards to boost its competitiveness and profits. PSA has recently announced the operating loss of €800 million in the first half of this year, justifying plant closures and wage cuts.
The agreement provides a two-year pay freeze, greater flexibility in working time and transferring workers to lower-ranking jobs within PSA to other companies. It tacks on a provision for “supplementary bonuses” tied to profitability, which is meaningless under conditions where the company is losing hundreds of millions of euros per year.
PSA welcomed union support for the concessions. “The company-level agreement on adapting working conditions, maintaining jobs and developing Sevelnord was signed by the CFE-CGC, FO, and SPI-GSEA unions”, PSA announced.
Unions praised the agreement, describing it as a “good compromise” to save the plant. Workers Struggle (FO) union delegate Jean-François Fabre cynically commented, “The agreement allows us to save the plant. … Our comrades at Aulnay would have preferred an accord like this to the closure of their site.”
The General Confederation of Labor (CGT) cast a purely symbolic vote against the deal, against which it has no plans to mount a struggle. The CGT delegate at Sevelnord, Ludovic Bouvier, said, “We will not sign an agreement behind the workers’ backs on the eve of paid vacations.”
Jean-Pierre Delannoy, the CGT’s leading regional official in metallurgy, said: “This agreement on mobility, flexibility, and wage freezes could be applied to all of PSA, even the entire auto industry. We cannot accept such a dangerous accord. … They do not have the right to use the trauma of the closure of Aulnay to impose a concessions deal at Sevelnord and say, ‘first you sign then you get the K-Zero [utility vehicle]’. We are not fooled, this is blackmail.”
The CGT’s verbal opposition to the deal is entirely cynical. It kept silent as management negotiated the deal for over a month—just as it has declined to organize any opposition to the closure of Aulnay. At Sevelnord, the CGT simply watched the negotiations and then waited for the other unions to endorse the agreement.
The contract signed by unions at Sevelnord resembles the American United Auto Workers (UAW) union’s routine collaboration with US auto companies to impose deep cost-cutting measures, including plant closures and wage and benefit cuts on US auto workers. This paved the way for US auto companies to become more competitive and increase their profits.
PSA management and union officials are using the Sevelnord accord as a model to be implemented throughout the auto industry and beyond.
Shortly before the agreement was announced, PSA CEO Philippe Varin bluntly told a parliamentary economic commission that the agreement “could serve as a template for the rest of the auto sector. … If we get an agreement, we’re ready to share our experience so that the entire industry can learn from it.”
He added, “I’ve discussed this with the [national] union federations and understand they are ready to look at the issue”.
The unions similarly expect this plan to be implemented against the entire workforce. FO official Fabre explained, “The agreement may well be followed elsewhere. It was negotiated mainly by our national federation and legal service, precisely for that reason.”
While it imposes concessions on the workers, PSA is demanding further government subsidies and tax breaks to boost its competitiveness. The FO union even cited this as a reason to back the agreement, with Fabre commenting: “This accord allows us to give guarantees to the government, which is willing to subsidize plants that will stay open.”
The Sevelnord agreement is a devastating exposure of the unions and the new Socialist Party (PS) government of President François Hollande, whose election was supported by the unions and petty-bourgeois “left” groups like the New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA).
Having come to power on the basis of pledges to “re-industrialize” France and boost its competitiveness, Hollande is making clear how his administration intends to accomplish this. He is backing big business’ campaign to slash jobs and benefits and impose poverty wages on the working class.
The PS government recently unveiled a plan, supported by the auto companies, aimed at boosting French auto industries. The plan includes increased subsidies for electric and hybrid cars and investment in new technologies, and provides €600 million in loans for small and mid-size auto supply firms. In dealing with the workers, however, it foresees cutting over €1 billion in labor costs and offers no relief to plants like Aulnay and Sevelnord threatened by management.

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French President Hollande attends Berlin summit after inauguration

By Alex Lantier 

16 May 2012
French President François Hollande flew directly from his inauguration in Paris yesterday to Berlin, to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel for a discussion on economic policies.
The meeting came as attempts to form a government in Greece collapsed, amid rising popular hostility across Europe to austerity policies demanded by the European Union (EU) under the leadership of Merkel and Hollande’s conservative predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy. The meeting was fraught with tension, as Hollande criticized the policies of Merkel and Sarkozy during his campaign, declaring that “austerity is not an unavoidable destiny.”
In a joint press conference last night after meeting with Merkel, Hollande said he was sending a “signal” to the Greek people: “We will approach them with growth measures, so their continued presence in the euro zone can be assured.”
Merkel also said that she wanted Greece—which is danger of defaulting on its debts, as its economy has been shattered by devastating social cuts imposed by the banks and the EU—to keep using the euro.
Hollande’s comments made clear, however, that he accepts the basic framework of budget cuts and social austerity laid out in the European fiscal pact negotiated this March. This is also in line with his policies at home. During his election campaign, he promised to cut French budget deficits to zero by 2017—eliminating over 100 billion euros ($127 billion) in yearly deficits via a combination of spending cuts and tax increases.
He indicated that instead of renegotiating the fiscal pact, as he proposed during his campaign, he might accept simply a separate declaration on “growth” policies. He advocated using EU funds for investment and issuing so-called “euro bonds,” debt obligations jointly backed by EU countries, to finance European states’ sovereign debts. He explained, “Everything must be put on the table by all sides, anything that can contribute to growth.”
For her part, Merkel stressed that she would work with Hollande: “We are aware of our two countries’ responsibilities to ensuring that Europe has good development. It is in this spirit that we will search for solutions.”
Her subsequent comments made clear, however, that the German government does not intend to abandon its insistence on austerity policies. She called growth “a general concept” that could be implemented by various different policies and suggested that Hollande’s policies were not so far removed from her own: “On the public square, one sees more divergences than actually exist in reality.”
Merkel was apparently referring to Hollande’s signals that immediately after the June legislative elections in France, he will dump many of his campaign promises and embark on a more openly pro-austerity program. (See: Incoming French president signals budget cuts, handouts to banks)
This week, Hollande’s advisors again suggested that on European policy, the changes the new French president would seek would be entirely within the orbit of existing austerity policies.
Writing on Monday in the Financial Times, Harvard economics professor and Hollande economic advisor Philippe Aghion said: “[Hollande’s] role model is Jacques Delors, former head of the European Commission and architect of the single market. Europe and the concern for budgetary discipline both run in his blood. … Ms. Merkel should be in an optimistic mood. The fast-thinking, slow-moving new president should prove a willing partner in her mission to revive Europe.”
While there are many indications that Hollande will largely line up with Merkel’s agenda of cuts against the working class, there are sharp divisions over how to promote the diverging interests of Europe’s ruling classes. Berlin has often refused to let the European Central Bank (ECB) print money to pay off banks holding European sovereign debt—a policy Hollande has repeatedly advocated.
The rest of Hollande’s inauguration ceremony further underscored the moderate, pro-business character of his presidency. In an inaugural speech at the Elysée presidential palace, he warned of France’s “massive debts” and “failing competitiveness,” declaring that his agenda was “Rebuilding France fairly, opening a new way in Europe, and preserving world peace.”
Hollande pledged to further decentralize French administration, to devolve state spending onto local administrations and to intensify negotiations with the “social partners”—the employers groups and trade union federations that oversee social spending.
He paid tribute to all the presidents of France’s Fifth Republic which, apart from François Mitterrand of Hollande’s own Socialist Party (PS), were all from the bourgeois right. Hollande praised “Charles de Gaulle who put his prestige in the service of the grandeur and sovereignty of France, George Pompidou who made the industrial imperative a national priority, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing who re-energized France’s modernization.” He addressed a “very special thought” to Mitterrand and also praised Mitterrand’s successor, the conservative Jacques Chirac.
Hollande then named his Elysée staff and the new prime minister of a temporary government that will rule until the June 10-17 parliamentary elections.
He selected Pierre-René Lemas, a former Interior Ministry official charged with decentralization policy during the 1980s who went on to serve as prefect of Corsica and the Moselle, then as a secretary for Senate president Jean-Pierre Bel. Lemas will be assisted by Emmanuel Macron, a former official of the Rothschild bank who will counsel him on economic issues, and Nicolas Revel, the former chief of staff for Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoë.
The Elysée diplomatic counselor will be Paul Jean-Ortiz, formerly the director for Asia and Oceania at the Foreign Ministry.
Lemas announced that Hollande has selected Jean-Marc Ayrault, the former leader of the PS legislative group in the National Assembly, as interim prime minister. Announcements of other interim ministers are expected today. The French press described the nomination of Ayrault, the mayor of Nantes and a former professor of German, as a signal that Hollande would seek to maintain close ties with Germany.
Officials of France’s right-wing Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) criticized Ayrault’s nomination, noting that in 1997 he was condemned to a 30,000-franc (4,600 euro) fine and a suspended six-month prison term over favoritism in awarding public contracts. They cited Hollande’s declaration in an April 15 interview that if elected, “I will not have around me at the Elysée anyone who was tried and convicted.”
Neo-fascist leader Marine Le Pen said that Ayrault’s nomination was “a first break in the contract of confidence that François Hollande has tried to negotiate with the French people, since Jean-Marc Ayrault, given his trial and conviction, does not meet the criteria laid out by François Hollande.”
She attacked claims that Ayrault would help smooth over relations with Germany: “We did not need a German-speaking prime minister. It is enough to know one word faced with Mrs. Merkel, which is ‘Nein.’”
Ayrault responded that his “personal probity” was not put in question by the ruling, which was overturned in 2007. His lawyer told TF1 that “mentioning” this conviction is “violating penal law.”

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Incoming French president signals budget cuts, handouts to banks

By Kumaran Ira and Alex Lantier 

9 May 2012
After winning the French presidential election on Sunday, the Socialist Party’s (PS) François Hollande is already positioning himself to drop his limited election promises on social spending and attack the working class with deep budget cuts.
Hollande’s victory reflected a broad popular rejection of incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy’s austerity policies and his unpopular imperialist wars. However, any hopes for change from the incoming government will be rapidly disappointed by Hollande, who is moving to carry out reactionary policies. During his campaign, Hollande vowed to slash over €100 billion in deficit spending to have a balanced budget by 2017, while making a few proposals for social measures, like increasing school subsidies and hiring more teachers.
On Tuesday, Hollande’s campaign team told Reuters that Hollande’s advisers are pressing him to use a report from France’s leading audit body, the Cour des comptes, to justify ditching his limited campaign promises and intensify social cuts.
The report is due to be released after the June 10-17 legislative election. This would allow the PS to conceal its agenda of social austerity from the voters, while it seeks to put together a government, then rapidly move on with cuts after it has assembled a parliamentary majority and formed a cabinet on the basis of deceitful promises.
According to Reuters, “aware of the political risk of angering left-wing voters, Hollande’s advisors say he must act within two months of taking office on May 15, allowing the Socialists to point the finger at Sarkozy’s outgoing government. Any announcement would likely be after the June 10 and 17 parliamentary elections, essential for Hollande to gain a working majority for legislation.”
Reuters cited PS parliamentary leader Jean-Marc Ayrault, saying of the audit: “There are certainly deficits, things hidden in the shadows. … We will discover the reality and strike a balance between fostering growth and making the necessary efforts to reduce the debt.”
Reuters noted that the PS would rely on the trade unions, which applauded Hollande’s victory, to impose the cuts and block working class opposition. It noted that PS officials’ “closer ties with them—particularly the moderate CFDT [French Democratic Labor Federation]—may allow them to accomplish bolder reforms.”
The Hollande team’s announcement on the Cour des Comptes report recalls how Greek Prime Minister Giorgios Papandreou in 2009 justified ditching his campaign promises of a stimulus package for the Greek economy, embarking instead on years of devastating social cuts. He also claimed the Greek budget deficit was larger than expected and then turned to massive attacks on the working class.
Significantly, during a televised campaign debate, Hollande defended Papandreou’s record on this point (See: “Sarkozy, Hollande outline right-wing policies in French presidential debate”).
Berlin also plans to intervene in June to push for austerity measures, according to press reports, giving Hollande more support for attacks against the working class after the legislative elections.
According to Le Monde, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s advisors “consider that the new French president will not be in a position to make significant concessions before the second round of legislative elections on June 17. In this scenario, everything will start moving between June 18 and the European meeting of June 28-9.”
While they agree on attacks against the working class, Merkel and Hollande seem set for a sharp clash over Hollande’s plans to renegotiate the European fiscal pact, which commits European governments to strict limits on budget deficits.
Hollande has stressed that he does not oppose budget limits that force anti-working class cuts, but that he wants to add a “growth component” to the fiscal pact. Merkel repeated on Monday that in her opinion, “The budget pact is not negotiable.”
This debate on “growth” is a political fraud. It aims not to provide jobs for workers, but to guarantee more handouts of public money to banks that have loaned money to European governments. Hollande wants the repayment of funds to the banks to be guaranteed—either via “eurobonds” jointly backed by the countries of the European Union, or money printed by the European Central Bank (ECB).
Berlin has opposed both measures. They would either force Germany to subsidize other states’ debts, in the case of eurobonds, or to accept significant price inflation.
Hollande has said that Berlin’s policy is unacceptable. In an interview, he commented: “We will discuss with our partners and particularly with our German friends, but they cannot rule out two policies at once, the first being eurobonds and the second the financing of debt by the European Central Bank.”
It appears that Hollande is acting with the support of the Obama administration. Washington opposes Berlin’s austerity policy on the grounds that, by blocking rapid payouts of public funds to the banks, Berlin undermines confidence in the banks and aggravates the financial crisis. In contrast to the US, where the Federal Reserve printed an estimated $7.7 trillion after the 2008 crisis to loan at low rates to Wall Street, the ECB has intervened more sparingly—often after diplomatic clashes between Berlin and Paris.
In an article titled “Change in Paris may better fit US economic positions,” theNew York Times wrote: “Mr. Sarkozy has parted from the White House in his support of the German-led austerity project in the debt-soaked euro zone, a project that the White House objects to on the grounds that cutting budgets too soon will lead to sluggish growth and high unemployment across Europe, without satisfying the demands of skittish bond investors.”
The policies demanded by Hollande and US imperialism would not be any more favorable to the working class than the austerity policies demanded by Berlin. In the US, the decision by the US government and the Federal Reserve to hand over massive public funds to the banks was the basis for deep attacks on the working class: slashing wages in the auto bailout, mass social cuts, and a sharp rise in unemployment.
The anti-working class policies that the incoming Hollande administration is planning constitute a devastating indictment of the bankrupt policies of the petty bourgeois “left” parties, including Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Left Front and the New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA). These parties called for a Hollande vote, without any conditions. When Hollande begins to impose social cuts, it is not difficult to foresee that these forces will do everything they can to demobilize working class opposition, as they did during Sarkozy’s term.
These forces are also complicit in Hollande’s continuation of Sarkozy’s alignment toward US foreign policy. Hollande supported the war against Libya, and has made clear in press interviews that he supports Sarkozy’s policy of threatening war with Iran and military intervention in Syria.
He has promised not to reverse Sarkozy’s decision to integrate France into the NATO command structure. Commenting on France’s role in NATO, Hollande told Slate: “I do not intend to return to the previous situation. I will request an evaluation of France’s role and the responsibilities we have received in the military command.”

Elections in Greece and France herald fresh social conflicts

By Peter Schwarz 

8 May 2012
Sunday’s elections have repercussions for all of Europe. The voting out of Nicolas Sarkozy in France and the devastating defeat of the ruling parties in Greece are an expression of broad opposition to the austerity policies laid down by the European Union. They herald a period of heightened social conflict and fierce political crisis.
The margin of nearly 4 percent with which the challenger, François Hollande beat the incumbent president in France, Nicolas Sarkozy, is relatively small. Nevertheless the change in personnel in the Elysée Palace represents a political turning point. There is only one occasion when an incumbent president failed to be reelected in the history of the Fifth Republic: Valéry Giscard d’Estaing in 1981. At that time, Francois Mitterrand became the first member of the Socialist Party to win the presidency. Now 17 years after the end of Mitterrand’s presidency Hollande is just the second representative of the Socialist Party to take over the country’s highest office.
Hollande is an experienced bourgeois politician whose program differs only in nuances from that of Sarkozy. He owes his election victory primarily to the support of supposedly left-wing organisations. These repeatedly sought to encourage the illusion that an alternative to the austerity policies of the EU was possible with Hollande.
The candidate of the Left Front, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who received 11 percent of the vote in the first round, called for a vote for Hollande in the second round. He did so arguing this was the only way to unseat Sarkozy and bring about a change of policy. The same argument was employed by the New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA) and Workers’ Struggle (LO), whose candidates received a combined total of nearly two percent.
In Greece, the conservative New Democracy (ND) and the social-democratic PASOK, who have ruled the country alternately since the end of the military dictatorship 37 years ago and jointly imposed the austerity diktat of the EU, have been decimated. Compared to the last election three years ago ND fell from 2.3 million to 1.2 million votes. The votes for PASOK dropped from 3 million to 0.8 million. Together, the two traditional bourgeois parties received less than one-third of the votes cast. Although the ND has the greatest representation in parliament due to an undemocratic electoral clause that awards it an extra 50 seats, it still does not have enough support to form a government in the 300-seat parliament.
The Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) emerged as the real winner of the election and was able to triple the number of its voters from 315,000 to more than 1.1 million. SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras is working closely on an international basis with Mélenchon’s Left Front and the German Left Party. Like them, he uses anti-capitalist rhetoric while supporting and defending the existing bourgeois institutions, including the European Union. During the campaign, he had always stressed: “We are not against the euro but we are opposed to the policies being pursued in the name of the euro.”
On the far right, both the chauvinist Independent Greeks and the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn made significant gains, winning 11 percent and 7 percent respectively, based on nationalist demagogy against the austerity policy of the ND-PASOK coalition.
As the second largest party SYRIZA now plays a central role in Greek politics and will be closely involved in the negotiations for a new government. ND leader Antonis Samaras, who according to the constitution was first asked to form a government, announced on Monday he was unable to form a viable coalition and the job has now passed to the chairman of SYRIZA, Tsipras. If a government with a working majority is not formed by May 17, then new elections must be held by June 17 at the latest.
The German government also suffered a severe defeat on Sunday. Angela Merkel’s governing coalition of the Christian Democratic Union and the Free Democratic Party, which previously governed in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein, lost its majority to a coalition of the SPD, the Greens and a Danish minority party. The CDU lost one percent and the FDP 7 percent.
The election defeats for Sarkozy and Merkel together with the electoral upheavals in Greece augur a period of intense social conflicts. This was the conclusion drawn by the leading business papers, as well as the stock exchanges and financial markets, which have fallen considerably. On Monday morning the euro’s exchange rate fell drastically and European share prices registered losses. At the same time the interest rates on the government bonds of southern European countries soared.
The Frankfurter Allgemeine described the Greek election results as a “warning sign”: “The result is devastating for Greece and devastating for Europe.”
The Financial Times Germany commented that the Greek people had “taken advantage of the election and voted on the savings plans of the government. The result is devastating and dangerous for Europe. In particular radical forces notched up big successes, those parties which reject a restructuring of the blatantly indebted country. “
Handelsblatt wrote: “Together with the financial disaster Greece also threatens to unleash political chaos… This election was above all a vote based on anger.” The paper warns: “The political earthquake expressed in this election is perhaps the harbinger of a social eruption that could quickly spread from Greece to other countries in crisis.”
There is little doubt in these circles that Hollande, Mélenchon, Tsipras, etc., will bow to the dictates of financial markets. A comment in Handelsblatt noted “Francois Hollande, the Socialist who enthuses about the great growth packages will end up on the hard ground of reality in the first year of his term of office… It is the markets which will impose their will on the new president. And it will not be the president who tames the markets. “
Mélenchon, a former member of the Socialists who is well aware of the party’s subservience to the dictates of the markets, assured Hollande of his full loyalty. His comment on Hollande’s electoral success reads like an application for a ministerial post. On his blog, he congratulated Hollande on his victory on Sunday. “I wish the best for both our president and our country,” he wrote, and congratulated the “four million voters of the Left Front, whose votes have now brought about the decision.” The Left Front will work to ensure “that the election defeat of the right and the election of François Hollande leads to the victory of the far-reaching demands which are posed.”
In the case of Tsipras and SYRIZA, the threat of state bankruptcy and expulsion from the EU was sufficient to bring them to order. “Tsipras is indeed radical in his rhetoric against the austerity policies,” notes theFrankfurter Allgemeine smugly, “but he also speaks out against a withdrawal from the euro zone.”
Organisations such as Mélenchon’s Left Front and Tsipras’s SYRIZA will play a key role in the coming period to head off and suppress the anger and outrage expressed in the election results on Sunday. In order to facilitate them in this respect discussions are currently taking place to complement the hated European fiscal pact with a “Growth Pact.” There is now a broad consensus for such a measure stretching from Hollande, the German Social Democrats to ECB chief Mario Draghi and the Financial Times.
The SPD, upon whose votes the government relies on this issue, has announced it will only agree to the fiscal pact in parliament if the government approves a supplementary growth pact. After the election victory of Hollande, SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel announced: “Now the issue is: whether Ms. Merkel and her coalition are in a position to negotiate a substantial growth pact? Together with the French socialists, we are prepared for such talks.”
Merkel has signaled her willingness to cooperate: She has also made clear what is meant by a growth pact: structural reforms to improve competitiveness at the expense of workers and the redistribution of existing EU-handouts to boost the profits of some branches of industry. At the same time the austerity programs are to continue unabated. Hollande and Gabriel are also in agreement. Mélenchon and Tsipras will find the necessary “left” phrases to cloak their own consent.
In the coming period everything will depend on workers breaking with these organisations and their false promises and taking up an independent, united struggle for a socialist program.

Socialist Party candidate Hollande wins French presidential elections

By Alex Lantier and Kumaran Ira in Paris 

7 May 2012
Socialist Party (PS) candidate François Hollande won the second round of the French presidential election yesterday, taking 51 percent of the vote against incumbent right-wing President Nicolas Sarkozy. Approximately 81 percent of France’s 46 million voters participated in the elections.
Shortly after the 8 p.m. announcement of the election results, Sarkozy gave a brief concession speech before assembled members of his Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party. He said he bore “full responsibility” for the defeat and wished “good luck” to Hollande. He added, “I will remain on your [the UMP’s] side, and you can rely on me to defend our ideas and convictions, but my role cannot remain the same.”
Press sources cited expectations that Sarkozy will, publicly at least, retire from politics. Last year he became the most unpopular president since France’s Fifth Republic began, in 1958, as his approval rating fell to 29 percent. He is widely resented for his ostentatious ties to the rich, and for having carried out repeated cuts in pension and labor rights, unpopular wars and attacks on democratic rights.
Hollande’s victory reflected this sentiment against Sarkozy—despite a sense in the working class that the two candidates had few differences in terms of concrete policies—as voters looked for change. What they will find with a Hollande government is, however, not change, but an intensification of the attacks on the working class.
Hollande gave his victory speech from Tulle, a small town in southern France where he was the mayor from 2001 to 2008, during which time he was simultaneously the PS’s first secretary.
Hollande gave a “Republican greeting” to Sarkozy and proclaimed he would be the “president of everyone.” Claiming that “divisions” between French citizens were “finished,” he demanded national unity to “increase production, reduce deficits, and preserve our social model.” He outlined a “French dream” of “progress” and a “long march” towards a better life.
Addressing “our European partners and first of all Germany,” he said that “austerity can no longer be an inevitable destiny” and called for “giving European construction a dimension of growth, jobs, prosperity, and future.”
These banal phrases aim to hide the political reality widely felt by masses of working people in France during the election campaign: Hollande and Sarkozy were two virtually indistinguishable candidates.
Hollande ran on a right-wing program of slashing budgets to respect the pro-austerity European Union fiscal pact, while calling for an unspecified “growth component” of handouts to banks and strategic enterprises. He stated that he had no criticisms of Sarkozy’s foreign policy—which included wars in Afghanistan, Libya, Ivory Coast, and now Syria. He praised the “German model” of structural reforms to slash labor costs and improve French firms’ competitiveness on international markets at the expense of the workers.
For its part, Berlin made clear that it viewed Hollande’s calls for “growth” as part of a drive to impose more austerity measures on the European working class. German Foreign Secretary Guido Westerwelle declared, “We will work together for a European growth pact on Sunday, during a brief visit to the French embassy in Berlin after François Hollande’s victory… We must add a new impulsion for growth, which requires structural reforms.”
Hollande’s narrow win over Sarkozy underscores the fact that his campaign found no enthusiasm among the working class. Particularly given Sarkozy’s deep unpopularity, it is all the more revealing that Hollande was barely able to defeat him.
At the time of his nomination for the PS presidential candidacy in October, Hollande had a record mainly as an official inside the PS bureaucracy. His views were relatively unknown to voters. After at first polling 62 percent, versus 38 percent for Sarkozy, he progressively lost this 24-point advantage. His poll ratings fell to 54 percent at the time of the first round, whereas Sarkozy’s ratings rose.
After the May 2 TV debate—during which Hollande struck a very right-wing position, pledging to respect the fiscal pact, maintain Sarkozy’s burqa ban, and ban halal meat—his support fell to 52.5 percent.
Hollande’s support apparently continued to fall until Election Day. On Saturday Hollande confessed to being concerned, saying: “If I were not concerned about defeat, I would not be in the state of apprehension that I feel.”
Hollande campaign spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem commented, “Thank God the campaign did not last one week longer.”
The substantial movement in poll numbers highlights the political uncertainty facing France’s bourgeois parties, as they prepare deep attacks on the working class and set about forming a government under Hollande. Legislative elections will be held on June 10 and June 17.
Hollande will rely on the continuing support of petty-bourgeois “left” parties, including the Left Front and the New Anti-capitalist Party, which called for a Hollande vote in this election and have tried to conceal Hollande’s plans for austerity policies.
Left Front leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who received 11 percent of the vote in the first round of the elections, hailed Hollande’s victory. “Finally Sarkozy is over! Thus we have dealt with the gravedigger of our social rights and of the public services of our Republic. His defeat is that of his project of appealing to the far right… Everything now is beginning for France and for our left.”
Mélenchon indicated that members of his Left Front would consider taking ministerial office under the PS, should the PS win a majority in the legislative elections and form a government.
The result of the petty-bourgeois “left” parties’ support for Hollande is that neo-fascist National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen, who received some 18 percent of the vote in the first round, is able to present herself as the candidate of opposition to austerity and the widely hated political establishment.
She spoke to journalists in Hénin-Beaumont, one of the FN’s new strongholds in de-industrialized northern France. She said, “I clearly said that I would vote blank, I am not in the habit of changing my mind. The two surviving candidates are political Siamese twins, so I do not hope for much from the result.”
The FN hopes to win a significant number of seats in the National Assembly in the legislative elections, campaigning on a reactionary anti-immigrant platform and aiming to obtain the 15 seats required to form a parliamentary group.

On the eve of the French presidential elections

5 May 2012

Tomorrow’s run-off between incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy of the right-wing Union for a Popular Majority (UMP) and Socialist Party (PS) candidate François Hollande sets the stage for escalating attacks on the working class in France.
Over his five-year term, Sarkozy has become the object of immense popular anger and derision. His efforts to maintain support despite his social austerity policies—with appeals to chauvinism based on foreign wars and anti-immigrant, law-and-order politics—have failed.
Despite this mass opposition, Sarkozy’s policies will be continued, regardless of who wins the election, as Hollande in no way presents an alternative.
A cynical representative of French finance capital, Hollande campaigned on the slogan “Change is now,” while presenting policies indistinguishable from Sarkozy’s. He has announced plans to slash France’s budget deficit to zero by 2017 to respect the reactionary European fiscal pact, which would mean eliminating some 115 billion euros in spending. He also intends to make the French economy competitive with Germany by pushing for cost and efficiency savings—a move that he would carry out by negotiating wage and benefit cuts with the union bureaucracy.
He has said he has no criticisms of France’s existing foreign policy, implicitly backing Sarkozy’s 2011 war in Libya and France’s ongoing war drive against Syria and Iran. He has also adopted Sarkozy’s anti-immigrant policies, supporting the burqa ban and denouncing halal meat.
Nonetheless, Hollande enjoys the support of France’s petty-bourgeois “left”—the Left Front of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA), and similar forces.
Despite Mélenchon’s phrase-mongering about a “citizens’ revolution,” to which the NPA has adapted itself, the petty-bourgeois parties lined up behind the PS. They are calling for a Hollande vote, knowing full well that his policies will be as right-wing as Sarkozy’s.
Their disclaimers that they would support trade-union protests against Hollande are cynical and politically empty, as the union bureaucracy is announcing its willingness to negotiate wage and benefits cuts with Hollande. Relying on unions and parties that support Hollande’s reactionary agenda to “pressure” the next president simply blocks the emergence of working class opposition to his policies. This leaves the workers unprepared for the coming attacks.
Under these conditions, it is not difficult to foresee the consequences of such policies. The only political figure who is calculating in terms of how to utilize social opposition is Marine Le Pen, the leader of the neo-fascist National Front (FN). Due to the bankrupt policies of the petty-bourgeois “left,” she has been able to position herself as the sole representative of popular social discontent.
She ran as the “only anti-system candidate,” denouncing the “UMPS” and the “ultra-free-market, permissive, and anarchist left” and promising to halt immigration and cut off immigrants’ access to social benefits. She has called for a blank vote tomorrow.
In the event of a Hollande victory, Le Pen vows to make the UMP “implode”, setting the stage for the FN ultimately emerging as France’s leading right-wing party. It is well placed to win seats in next month’s legislative elections. On April 22 it won in 23 of France’s 577 legislative districts, came in second in 93, and received more than the 12.5 percent needed to survive to the second-round legislative races in 353.
The contrast between the petty-bourgeois “left” parties’ endorsement of Hollande and Le Pen’s denunciations of the “UMPS” could not be starker. If Hollande wins and carries out the attacks on workers and small businesses that he has described, the petty-bourgeois “left” parties’ claims to oppose him will have no credibility with broad layers of the population.
After his recent TV debate with Sarkozy, Hollande has made the character of his agenda quite clear. There, he made the remarkable statement that he understood Greek Prime Minister Giorgios Papandreou’s decision to react to poor economic conditions left by his predecessor by embarking on devastating social cuts demanded by the banks and the EU. The parties supporting Hollande are no different than petty-bourgeois “left” parties that supported the austerity policies of the PASOK social democrats in Greece, or the PSOE in Spain.
The pretense that these parties are of the left—while they line up with a bourgeois candidate supporting deep attacks on the working class, anti-Muslim chauvinism, and imperialist war—is increasingly reactionary and dangerous. If they succeed in blocking working class opposition to the coming attacks, they will have ceded the mantle of opposition to the most reactionary, anti-working class forces in the political establishment. These are the preconditions for the emergence of the FN as a major political force in France.
The political situation in France, as throughout the world, is characterized above all by the crisis of political leadership in the working class, and a political vacuum on the left. There will be great social struggles against the attacks of the ruling class, but these will ultimately end in defeat if the working class does not build a genuine, revolutionary and internationalist opposition to capitalism. This is the struggle waged by the International Committee of the Fourth International.
Alex Lantier

France’s foreign policy after Sarkozy

by Issa el Ayoubi

During Nicolas Sarkozy’s five-year tenure, France has lost the prestige she enjoyed in Africa and the Middle East. That is why all those who love that country are wondering whether the change heralded by François Hollande will also apply to foreign policy? In the editorial reproduced below, the Syrian daily Al-Watantakes a positive view. The socialist leader judges the states in the region just as harshly as his predecessor but, true to his principles, he should put an end to the unholy Alliance between the “country of human rights” and the religious dictatorships of the Gulf.

The first round of the French presidential election is over and the second will take place next Sunday. The French people must choose their president for the next five years. They will not do so on the basis of our concerns, but of their own. They have paid little attention to international issues, even though the outgoing president has staked their future abroad. While the domestic crises they are facing are the result of foreign policy options, these have been absent from the public debate.

However, in the first round, the French have basically punished Nicolas Sarkozy. He received the lowest score ever recorded by an outgoing president. This historical shock resulted in two phenomena:
• The return to center stage of a militant left around Jean-Luc Melenchon.
• The highest score ever obtained by the National Front of Le Pen, a nationalist party rooted in the extreme right.
French citizens went to the polls en masse although they found the campaign dull, devoid of stimulating discussions both intellectually and politically. Nevertheless, this campaign bears many lessons and serious consequences.
The French people have rebelled against Nicolas Sarkozy’s style of government, a far cry from democracy. Three quarters of the voters do not identify with his domestic or foreign policies. Many are outraged by the neo-colonialist stance he displayed in Syria, Libya and the Ivory Coast. They lament the interference in other nations’ affairs, which, regardless of the humanitarian justifications, are a return to the colonialism of old, which mostly serves the U.S. empire. Such policies have brought even more submission and social crises to France. In addition, it places her at odds with the emerging forces in the world instead of cooperating with them.
As for the other candidates, although they failed to condemn French interference, they all criticized Nicolas Sarkozy’s unnatural alliance with the extremist religious factions led by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. They all voiced concern about the rise of this fundamentalism from the Atlantic to the Persian Gulf. Such an alliance was concluded primarily to serve the neoconservatives and their strategy to dominate the Arab world by bringing to power new dictatorships driven by backward ideologies. It was also aimed at promoting Sarkozy’s personal financial interests and economically thank the friends who had helped him get elected, five years ago. In this regard, investments made by the Princes of the petro-monarchies in France do not go to strategic sectors that could benefit the French people. The only ones to benefit are businessmen who are linked to Nicolas Sarkozy and enjoy his favoritism. However, all these figures are equally related to the U.S. and on international markets defend the interests of Washington, not those of France.
The favorite candidate, Socialist Francois Hollande, has kept a soft focus on his policy towards Syria, but the ideological and strategic school from which he originates forbids him from pursuing the policy of the Sarkozy-Juppé tandem, that of subservience within the New World Order. Holland sees Russia and China as necessary partners, not as adversaries. Although he held the same discourse as Juppé-Sarkozy on the promotion of human rights and democracy in the world, particularly in the French zone of influence, he considers that untimely military interventions far from improving matters often make them worse. In this sense, he draws the lessons from the U.S. adventures after September 11.
Holland believes that it is not possible to establish democracies in the Arab world as long as the Saudi and Qatari regimes exercise an influence over it. He stated that priority should be given to reforming the political structure of the Gulf monarchies. Therefore, there is no doubt that French policy in this area will change. Despite the Socialist Party’s opportunistic links with certain Gulf donors, Francois Hollande would be in a position to lay the groundwork for new rules in international relations.
However, this shift will not be enough for France to regain its influence in the Arab world as the damage wreaked by the Sarkozy era is considerable. It is therefore essential that the new French president take dramatic initiatives in order to turn the page.

Sarkozy, Hollande outline right-wing policies in French presidential debate

By Alex Lantier and Johannes Stern in Paris 

3 May 2012
Conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist Party (PS) challenger François Hollande faced off last night in the lone TV debate before the May 6 run-off election. Some 20 million people reportedly watched the event.
In a confused and argumentative debate, Hollande and Sarkozy both sought to win support from the financial elite on a program of social cuts, anti-immigrant racism, and continuing imperialist wars. Hollande in particular delivered a right-wing, anti-Muslim rant, apparently aiming to appeal to voters for the neo-fascist National Front (FN)—which received 18 percent of the vote in the April 22 first round.
This followed FN leader Marine Le Pen’s decision yesterday not to endorse Sarkozy, announcing that she would cast a blank ballot on Sunday. Le Pen’s call weakened Sarkozy, who trails Hollande with roughly 45 percent of the vote in most polls.
Hollande stressed his commitment to repaying France’s debts to the banks and respecting the European stability pact, which imposes strict limits on European countries’ budget deficits. He called for €90 billion (US$118 billion) in yearly budget cuts, and indexing wage increases not on inflation but on France’s very low economic growth—a policy that would eat away workers’ purchasing power through inflation.
He also proposed various investment and subsidy measures for businesses, claiming that “things were changing” thanks to growing agreement on economic policies with European Central Bank (ECB) chief Mario Monti, and Spain’s right-wing government.
Sarkozy could not defend the deeply unpopular austerity policies of his first five-year term. Instead, he attacked Hollande by warning that social-democratic governments in other European countries had drastically increased unemployment. He cited Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Zapatero and Greek Prime Minister Giorgios Papandreou—who devastated Greek living standards with deep cuts demanded by the banks and the European Union (EU).
Remarkably, Hollande responded by defending Papandreou, blaming his Greece’s crisis on Papandreou’s conservative predecessor, Costas Karamanlis. In fact, the cuts Papandreou approved pushed unemployment up to 22 percent (over 50 percent for youth), slashed wages by 30 percent or more, and led to a wave of suicides throughout Greece.
Hollande’s defense of Papandreou’s record shows that, in his place, Hollande would have carried out a similar, anti-working class policy.
Both candidates praised the union bureaucracy’s role in negotiating social cuts with the government. Sarkozy said that during his term he “had one main idea in mind,” which was to avoid “violence.” Hollande praised the union bureaucracy for keeping demonstrations from “overflowing,” adding: “Thank goodness there are the social partners”—that is, negotiations between the union bureaucracy and business groups.
On social questions, the debate was largely devoted to immigration, as both candidates vowed to carry out reactionary attacks on immigrants’ democratic rights. Hollande began by attacking conservative governments for admitting too many immigrants, saying that under the last PS government only 150,000 immigrants per year had entered France, as opposed to 200,000 per year under Sarkozy.
Sarkozy responded by pledging to halve the number of immigrants entering France, and accusing the PS of not supporting Sarkozy’s ban on the burqa. Hollande responded with an angry rant, saying that if elected, he would uphold the burqa ban and a previous ban on Muslim veils in the schools, not allow any women-only hours at swimming pools, and not “tolerate” halal meat in French schools.
This remarkable statement, which completely tramples the principle of state neutrality on religious matters, implies that observant Muslim students would not have the right to eat meat at school. It shows that the election of a PS government would not improve, but worsen the racist treatment of immigrants in France.
One of the most remarkable characteristics of the whole debate was the virtual absence of foreign policy issues, which received only 10 minutes’ attention during the two-and-a-half hour debate. There was no mention of last year’s war against Libya, nor of the Western powers’ current preparations for war against Syria and Iran.
After Sarkozy’s election in 2007, he immediately sought to align France more closely with US militarism, rejoining NATO in 2009. He helped lead the diplomatic push for a NATO war to oust and murder Libyan head of state Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi, who was replaced with a Western client regime; French fighter-bombers played a major role in prosecuting the conflict. The NATO war killed tens of thousands of Libyans and laid whole cities to waste.
With the war threats against Syria and threats against Iran, France is now involved in the preparation of an even bigger crime. A war against Syria would threaten the lives of millions and could trigger a larger conflict throughout the Middle East and even a conflict between the major world powers.
Both Sarkozy and Hollande support the French wars, and the fact that these issues were not even mentioned in the debate underline its fraudulent character. Though the French ruling class’s wars are opposed by the population, fundamental issues of foreign policy were off the agenda during the entire election campaign.
The candidates’ few comments on foreign policy nevertheless revealed their pro-militarist policy. Both praised the French army’s role in the war in Afghanistan. Hollande pledged to withdraw French troops in 2012 if elected, while Sarkozy stressed the fact that French soldiers have not finished their job yet and should stay until 2013.
Regarding what Hollande called the “unstable situation” in Sub-Saharan Africa, the candidates made clear that France has to play a major role in the region. Sarkozy stated that “France, as the old colonial power cannot intervene directly but must work together with regional powers” to intervene by proxy.
The TV debate underscored that the working class is politically disenfranchised by a reactionary and sclerotic political establishment, which can only put forth candidates of austerity and war who defend the interests of the ruling class. Workers must prepare for bitter struggles against the incoming government and the class interests it represents.

French President Sarkozy appeals to neo-fascist vote

By Antoine Lerougetel 

27 April 2012
Beaten into second place by Socialist Party (PS) challenger François Hollande in Sunday’s first round of the presidential elections, President Nicolas Sarkozy is desperate to win the votes of the 6.5 million people who voted for the third placed candidate, the neo-fascist Marine Le Pen. He needs them to overtake Hollande in the runoff on May 6.
Opinion polls predict a comfortable win for Hollande, with 56 percent of the vote. At present, polls show that some 60 percent of Le Pen’s voters will transfer their votes to Sarkozy, but it is calculated that Sarkozy will need 70 percent to win.
Throughout the election campaign, Sarkozy has sought to divert attention from his record of unpopular austerity measures and to win Le Pen’s potential voters by appealing to anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and law-and-order sentiment.
On Tuesday, Sarkozy stated that Marine Le Pen “is compatible with the Republic”—a statement that UMP officials Jean-François Copé and Xavier Bertrand initially attempted to deny that Sarkozy had made.
Such a comment has immense political implications. A French head of state has formally stated that in his opinion, the legal structure of French bourgeois rule is compatible with neo-fascism, and a member of the party whose longtime leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen, dismissed the Holocaust as a “detail” of history. It reflects a profound crisis of bourgeois rule in France and throughout Europe.
The Nouvel Observateur commented, “Until then, on the right, apart from in the ranks of the Popular Right [a far right grouping within the ruling UMP – Union for a Popular Movement], they have limited themselves to stressing that the FN is a legal party. Sarkozy is here suggesting that the Lepenist party is a republican party, which would defend republican values.”
There has been some disquiet in circles within the ruling UMP (Union for a Popular Movement) close to former president Jacques Chirac, who fear the identification of the Gaullist movement with fascism. However, Sarkozy’s former minister of sport, Chantal Jouanno stated that in contests in the legislative elections next June between FN and PS candidates she would vote PS, she, was criticized by Prime Minister François Fillon. Sarkozy’s campaign spokesperson Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet has said she would vote PS, like Jouanno.
Sarkozy has made clear that his campaign intends to pursue its neo-fascistic appeal. In line with his Islamophobic anti-burqa law and his mass deportations of Roma and undocumented immigrants, Sarkozy has launched lying claims that most of the meat in the Paris region is halal, and recently that 700 mosques have called for a vote for Hollande. He has pledged to cut legal immigration by half and reinstate national border controls.
The assertions of PS leaders such as Arnaud Montebourg, who have sought to criticize Sarkozy by asserting that Le Pen “is not compatible with the Republic,” are completely hypocritical, however.
Sarkozy’s public legitimization of Le Pen reflects the views of Sarkozy not only as a candidate, but also as France’s head of state for five years now. He has implemented a series of policies—notably relating to attacks on democratic rights, and imperialist wars—that have played a major role in legitimizing Le Pen and creating a situation in which her National Front (FN) is an accepted part of the political establishment.
These reactionary policies have enjoyed the full support of the PS. The PS supported Sarkozy’s legislation banning the burqa and, before that, the Islamic scarf in schools. The PS and the French bourgeoisie, in general, backed Sarkozy’s neo-colonial wars in Afghanistan, Libya and now Syria, trying to limit popular opposition to these wars by promoting Islamophobia. This support was not limited to the PS, but also included its satellites: the New Anti-capitalist Party, the French Communist Party (PCF), and the Left Party.
This has a broad significance going beyond the policies of either the UMP or the PS candidate. Four years after the beginning of the world financial crisis, the French bourgeoisie is again promoting political conceptions it had not embraced since the Great Depression of the 1930s—a decade that ended with the collaboration of the Vichy government of Marshal Philippe Pétain with the Nazis during the Occupation of 1940-1944. (See also: Back to Vichy)
This is reflected in the conduct of the Hollande campaign itself. Hollande is now capitulating to the racist sentiment promoted by the UMP and FN, backpedaling on his promise to legislate this autumn the right to vote for foreigners in local elections. He said it would be in 2013, in time for the 2014 municipal elections, insisting that “there is no specific timetable.”
An election promise of the PS for over 30 years, consistently abandoned when in office, the right to vote of resident foreigners in local elections has long been commonplace in most European countries. Ségolène Royal, the defeated PS candidate in the 2007 presidential elections, asserted on Monday: “It’s never been our priority.” She added: “Those who are worried about the influx of illegal immigrants are not racists.”
Since the imposition in 1983 of austerity by the PS government under President François Mitterrand, the PS and its ally the PCF have lost all credibility as defenders of the working class. Polls have found that over 30 percent of industrial workers voted for Le Pen.
On Wednesday on France 2 TV, Hollande asserted: “I listen to the workers who are thinking about relocations and who are expressing their anger by voting for Le Pen.” At Hirson he insisted that he could cater to their needs by working for a reorientation of Europe and an industrial policy: “I’ve heard the cries of anger, I’ve responded with a message of hope.”
Hollande issued the empty promise, on the news of the threatened loss of 5,000 jobs at Neo Sécurité, that he would not allow the string of redundancy plans to be announced after the elections. Sarkozy reportedly asked executives not to announce major layoffs during the presidential campaign, so it is expected that they will come after the elections are over.

Political issues in the French presidential election

25 April 2012

The first round of the French presidential election on Sunday starkly exposed the political crisis in France and throughout Europe and the immense dangers facing the working class. The main political beneficiary of four years of global economic crisis, imperialist war in the Middle East and collapsing state budgets was the neo-fascist National Front (FN) of Marine Le Pen.
The FN received 18 percent of the vote, its highest-ever total, coming in third behind the two candidates, François Hollande of the Socialist Party (PS) and conservative incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy, who advanced to the May 6 run-off.
The election revealed enormous popular discontent with the austerity policies carried out by Sarkozy’s Union for a Popular Majority (UMP) government. However, this discontent can find no progressive expression because any independent, leftward movement of the working class is blocked by the PS, the trade union bureaucracy and middle-class pseudo-left parties that spout radical phraseology while remaining tied to the main bourgeois parties.
Under these conditions, the most reactionary forces in the political establishment are able to pose as “anti-establishment” and “anti-austerity” and divert popular anger behind anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim racism and rabid French nationalism. The rightward lurch of the official “left” and its so-called “far left” allies has enabled the FN to emerge strengthened from the crisis.
A second round run-off between the PS and the UMP offers nothing for the working class. The PS and the various right-wing tendencies that make up the UMP have traded the presidency and the premiership for 43 years, since Charles de Gaulle stepped down from the presidency after the 1968 general strike. The critical task facing the working class in France is to develop a politically independent movement against the next president, whether Sarkozy or Hollande, and against European capitalism.
There is nothing socialist about the PS except the name. Fashioned into an electoral vehicle for the ex-Vichy collaborationist politician François Mitterrand after its foundation in 1969, the PS combined a layer of bourgeois functionaries with personnel from petty-bourgeois “left” parties. This included figures like Lionel Jospin, a member of the ex-Trotskyist Internationalist Communist Organization (OCI), who served under Mitterrand and then as prime minister from 1997 to 2002.
Elected in 1981 based on an alliance with the Stalinist French Communist Party (PCF), under conditions of a radicalization of the working class, Mitterrand soon abandoned his reform program under the pressure of rising trade deficits and capital flight engineered by the banks. He then made his “austerity turn”—a ruthless drive to dismantle uncompetitive industries such as steel and mining that had been centers of working class radicalism in the 1970s.
Aiming to split the rising right-wing vote, Mitterrand helped inflate the FN’s media profile. The neo-fascist party rose out of obscurity, benefiting from the attacks on the working class by the bourgeois “left” and repeated sellouts of working class struggles by the trade union bureaucracy, assisted by the bureaucracy’s petty-bourgeois “left” allies.
The 1997-2002 Jospin government came to power after the 1995 railroad strike against pension cuts had forced out the right-wing government of Alain Juppé. Jospin’s attacks on social programs and working class living standards laid the basis for the FN’s biggest presidential vote prior to last Sunday’s poll. In the current election, Hollande alluded to Jospin’s privatization policies when he reassured the banks that the PS had nothing to do with socialism. “Today there are no more communists in France,” he said. “The left liberalized the economy and opened markets to finance and privatization. There is nothing to fear.”
In 2002, FN presidential candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen narrowly edged out the unpopular Jospin in the first round, advancing to a run-off against the right-wing Gaullist incumbent Jacques Chirac. Though they had won millions of votes and captured a combined 11 percent of the total by presenting themselves as radical socialist parties, the petty-bourgeois “left” groups—the LCR (forerunner of the New Anti-capitalist Party), Workers Struggle, and PT (successor organization to the OCI) did not attempt to mobilize the working class against an election that was widely viewed as illegitimate. They preferred to function as pressure groups on the bourgeoisie, lining up behind Chirac and calling for a defense of the French bourgeois republic against Le Pen.
The International Committee of the Fourth International issued a call for an active boycott of the presidential election as a means of preparing an independent political movement of the working class against the social cuts Chirac would carry out. All three petty-bourgeois “left” groups rejected the ICFI’s call. As the ICFI had warned, their capitulatory policy of tail-ending the main bourgeois parties, far from blocking the FN, only strengthened it, allowing the neo-fascists to pose as the only oppositional tendency.
Armed with this support from the petty-bourgeois “left,” Chirac and then Sarkozy pressed ahead with austerity measures. Working class resistance was repeatedly sabotaged by the union bureaucracy, whose treachery was covered up and facilitated by the pseudo-left organizations. These same groups (or their successor organizations) supported attacks on immigrants and Muslims, such as the ban on the veil and the burqa. They backed France’s bombardment of Libya last year and currently support its imperialist intervention against Syria.
In this election, dominated by a desperate social crisis, the petty-bourgeois “left” offered nothing to the working class save the demagogy of Left Front candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon. His “citizens’ revolution”—which he defines as “rooted” in trade union protests, but “set off and carried out at the ballot box” and reflecting the “general interest” of the nation—combines hostility to a revolutionary struggle for power by the working class with reactionary French nationalism. He pushed this so far as to endorse in his writings a French expansionist program in Belgium aimed against Germany.
The petty-bourgeois “left”—drawn largely from privileged layers that are hostile to the working class, including the state and trade union bureaucracies—thus works to blur the lines between socialism and right-wing, even fascistic tendencies. Now, with the choice between Sarkozy and Hollande, they are endorsing the PS candidate and further ceding the mantle of opposition to Le Pen, who is posing as a critic of the status quo and may call for a blank vote.
This situation poses serious dangers to the working class. In France—as in Greece, Spain, Italy and other countries targeted by the banks—the working class faces historic attacks and no means to defend itself through the existing political organizations. The critical question in France and throughout Europe is the construction of a revolutionary party—that is, a Trotskyist party and section of the ICFI—without which the reactionary policies of the social democrats and the petty-bourgeois “left” will lead to new defeats for the working class and the further growth of a neo-fascist movement.
The ICFI rejects with contempt the argument that a vote for Hollande is necessary to defeat the right. One can safely predict that if he comes to power, Hollande will provide further political ammunition for France’s neo-fascists.
Alex Lantier

Large neo-fascist vote shakes French presidential race

By Alex Lantier and Johannes Stern in Paris 

24 April 2012
The large vote for neo-fascist candidate Marine Le Pen in Sunday’s first round of the French presidential election has shaken the campaign, which continues towards the May 6 run-off between Socialist Party (PS) candidate François Hollande and incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Le Pen received 17.9 percent of the vote, coming in third behind Hollande (28.6 percent) and Sarkozy (27.2 percent). She beat Left Front candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who received only 11.1 percent of the vote after having vowed to put Le Pen in fourth place.
The Le Pen vote highlights the dangers posed by the political vacuum on the left, which enables the far right to capitalize on widespread social anger over the austerity policies of both the PS and Sarkozy’s Union for a Popular Movement (UMP). As petty-bourgeois pseudo-left forces—such as the Communist Party, the New Anti-capitalist Party and Workers Struggle—work to channel popular opposition behind the PS and the trade union bureaucracy, Le Pen’s National Front (FN) is given a free hand to posture as the anti-austerity and anti-establishment party, appeal to popular hatred of the European Union and the bankers it represents, and combine phony populism with anti-immigrant racism and rabid nationalism.
The campaign of Mélenchon’s Left Front—an alliance between his Left Party and the French Communist Party (PCF)—rallied little support outside the roughly 10 percent of the population who regularly vote for the Stalinist PCF and “left” parties like the New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA). It was clear, notwithstanding Mélenchon’s left rhetoric, that the Left Front was serving as a stalking horse for the PS campaign.
Both Sarkozy and Hollande referred to Le Pen’s showing in their campaign speeches yesterday. Sarkozy made an unabashed appeal to protectionist and anti-immigrant sentiment.
He said, “National borders work to protect people. If we look at the world as it is, the countries that succeed are those that respect the nation and their national identity. All you have to do is see the number of American flags in the US to understand that there, people love their country.”
He echoed his earlier campaign threat to pull France out of the Schengen border treaty if the European Union did not adopt tougher anti-immigrant measures. “If Europe does not work to protect its borders,” he declared, “France will do so unilaterally.”
Hollande, for his part, promised a “new decentralization law.” As he has pledged to cut €115 billion (US$152 billion) from the budget deficit, this can only mean slashing public services as they are transferred to overworked, underfunded regional and local administrations.
Hollande again thanked Mélenchon and Europe-Ecology-The Greens (EELV) candidate Eva Joly for “announcing, without haggling, their support for my candidacy.” Mélenchon, Joly and NPA candidate Philippe Poutou have called for a Hollande vote, either explicitly or by calling for a vote “against Sarkozy,” without placing any demands on Hollande. The Left Front, EELV and the NPA have all given the PS a blank check to carry out its right-wing policies.
Hollande then tried to place the entire blame for the rise of the far-right vote on Sarkozy. He said, “The person responsible for the rise of the far right is he who sometimes used its vocabulary. The person responsible for the rise of the far right is he who shattered in the course of five years a number of fundamental rights.”
While Sarkozy has undoubtedly appealed to neo-fascist sentiment, Hollande’s attempt to blame Le Pen’s electoral successes on Sarkozy is absurd and disingenuous. Rising support for the FN reflects the deep social crisis in France and the reactionary policies of the entire political elite, including the PS.
Le Pen’s vote was particularly high in the Northeast and along the Mediterranean coastline, where unemployment is amongst the highest in France. In these areas, the fascist candidate consistently received over 20 percent of the votes in electoral districts, in many cases finishing in second place.
In the south, she came in first in the Gard department, with over 25 percent of the vote. Gard is part of the Languedoc-Roussillon region, where the unemployment rate of 12.9 percent last year was the highest in France.
In the northern region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais she won over half a million votes. In the department of Pas de-Calais she finished second after Holland, polling over 25 percent. In Nord, she took third place with over 21 percent. Nord-Pas-de-Calais ranked second in last year’s unemployment statistics, at 12.8 percent.
As in the Mediterranean south, the region was once a stronghold of the Socialist and Communist parties. The FN’s rise began in 1983, when Socialist Party President François Mitterrand and his PS-PCF government imposed brutal austerity measures on the working class. Contrary to Hollande’s claims, it was his own party and the French bourgeois “left” that prepared the ground for the right-wing populism of the FN. It slashed social spending and destroyed most of the region’s coal, textile and steel industries. The last coal mine in Nord-Pas-de-Calais closed in 1990.
This record of austerity policies by the bourgeois “left” allows Le Pen to pose as a champion of little people. In March, she declared: “Unlike him [Jean-Luc Mélenchon], I didn’t wait 25 years for a seat as a senator before I got interested in the working class. Anyway, the voters of Jean-Luc Mélenchon are not the working class, but an electorate of ‘bobos’ [bohemian bourgeois].”
The rise of the neo-fascist vote reflects not only the social crisis facing the population, but the entire political establishment’s shift to the right. Its continual promotion of anti-Muslim racism—under the banner of the “war on terror” or “secularism” (the banning of the burqa)—allowed Marine Le Pen to rebrand the FN as part of the mainstream after she took over leadership of the party from her father Jean-Marie Le Pen last January.
A BVA poll last month found that 52 percent of Frenchmen considered the FN to be a “party like the others.” The pollsters said this response was particularly common (63 percent) among poorer layers of the population.
The most significant shift to the right was that carried out by the petty-bourgeois “left” parties—often in the guise of combating the neo-fascist parties. In 2002, when Jean-Marie Le Pen and conservative candidate Jacques Chirac reached the second round of the presidential elections, the PS, PCF and Revolutionary Communist League (LCR—precursor of the NPA) campaigned for a Chirac vote against Le Pen.
They opposed a call issued by the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) for an active boycott of the elections to prepare an independent political struggle of the working class against the Chirac administration.
The subsequent decade saw these forces emerge as a critical support for social reaction in France and throughout Europe. They backed the trade union bureaucracy’s negotiation of pension cuts and other social attacks with Chirac and Sarkozy, just as petty-bourgeois “left” parties supported unions that were negotiating attacks on the working class in crisis-hit countries like Greece, Spain and Ireland. Nor did they issue any criticisms of toothless protests the unions called against measures they were helping to implement. They also supported Sarkozy’s anti-Muslim policies and French imperialism’s wars—against Libya last year, and Syria today.
Now they are supporting Hollande, who is preparing free-market attacks on the working class and famously assured London bankers earlier this year that he is “not dangerous.”

Socialist Party candidate Hollande, Sarkozy advance in French presidential elections

By Alex Lantier 

23 April 2012
Socialist Party (PS) candidate François Hollande and incumbent president Nicolas Sarkozy received the highest vote totals in Sunday’s first round of the French presidential elections, advancing to the second round to be held on May 6.
Hollande won an estimated 28 percent of the vote, with Sarkozy following at 27 percent. Neo-fascist candidate Marine Le Pen’s score of 19 percent surpassed poll estimates, as well as the 16.8 percent score of her father Jean-Marie Le Pen in the 2002 elections. Two other candidates won significant scores: Left Front candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon at 11 percent—down from previous estimates of 14 to 15 percent—and the Democratic Movement’s (MoDem) François Bayrou, a right-wing “centrist” candidate, at 9 percent.
Europe-Ecology-the Greens (EELV) candidate Eva Joly won 2 percent, New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA) candidate Philippe Poutou won 1 percent and Workers Struggle (LO) candidate Nathalie Arthaud won 0.6 percent of the vote.
Hollande is currently expected to win handily in a match-up with Sarkozy, with polls showing him winning at least 56 percent of the vote. Sarkozy emerges weakened from the vote, as the first incumbent president of France’s Fifth Republic not to win the first round of the presidential elections.
At 80 percent. voter participation was larger than expected. This reflected broad popular hostility to Sarkozy’s policies of social austerity and war in the Middle East, and the sense that the French population faces a deep social and international crisis. This drove voters to the polls despite what was widely described as a lackluster campaign, where voters could not clearly distinguish between the candidates. Some 38 percent of voters indicated before the elections that they did not firmly support any candidate, and many voters cast ballots by default.
Yesterday’s result sets the stage for a race between two pro-war, pro-austerity candidates preparing deep attacks on the working class and for explosive class struggles in the coming presidential term. Hollande is committed to slashing over €115 billion ($US152 billion) in budget deficits and has supported French imperialism’s wars in Libya and Syria.
The relatively low vote for Mélenchon and the collapse of the NPA and LO vote reflect the broad popular sense that all these forces are essentially in the camp of the Socialist Party and would back the PS. The petty-bourgeois “left” is predictably throwing its full support behind the PS, despite Hollande’s deeply reactionary program.
The first public statement following the election came from Mélenchon, a former PS minister and the candidate of the Left Front—a coalition between the French Communist Party (PCF), split-offs from the PS such as Mélenchon’s Left Party (PG) and a section of the NPA led by Christian Picquet.
At an election rally in Paris, Mélenchon called for voters to “beat Sarkozy” on May 6, even telling his voters “not to drag your feet” on the way to the polls. He also called for his voters to participate in large numbers in a May 1 demonstration organized by the union bureaucracy, which has backed Mélenchon and Hollande in the election.
Mélenchon’s call to “beat Sarkozy” in a two-man race is a cynical attempt to back Hollande without taking full political responsibility for Hollande’s program. However, PCF chairman Pierre Laurent told the press he was calling “without ambiguity” for a Hollande vote. Asked by BFM-TV if there were any difference between his endorsement and the position of Mélenchon, Laurent said there was not.
Significantly, neither Mélenchon nor Laurent asked for any policy guarantees or influence over the policies of a future government, in exchange for their endorsement—effectively issuing Hollande a blank check to carry out the banks’ policies. EELV candidate Joly also called for a Hollande vote.
The other petty-bourgeois “left” parties echoed Mélenchon’s call for a Hollande vote. On France2 television, NPA candidate Philippe Poutou said: “On May 6, the election must serve a purpose: to throw out Nicolas Sarkozy.”
LO candidate Nathalie Arthaud issued a communiqué declaring, “Obviously no class-conscious worker can vote for Nicolas Sarkozy, the president of the rich.” She added that her voters would probably either cast a blank ballot or vote for Hollande.
The ex-left parties’ endorsement of Hollande is a warning to the working class: as popular opposition develops to Hollande’s right-wing policies, it will face not only the hostility of the PS, but also of the Left Front and other such parties.
In his brief speech last night, Hollande explicitly praised the role of the petty-bourgeois “left” parties in supporting his campaign. After describing the result of his campaign as “punishment” for Sarkozy’s term, he said he “saluted” Mélenchon and Joly, “who are calling clearly and without any negotiations for voters to support me in the second round.”
Under conditions of a vacuum on the left, where the vast majority of the population considers the pseudo-left to be the political adjunct of the PS, one of the main beneficiaries of social anger is paradoxically Le Pen’s far-right National Front (FN). Marine Le Pen has worked to change the FN’s image, to hide the pro-Nazi and anti-Algerian independence views, and to pose as a party that supports social spending for French workers, even if it is violently hostile to immigrants.
Le Pen’s campaign manager, Interior Ministry official Florian Philippot, said that Le Pen’s score made her “the leader of the opposition” to Hollande.
Le Pen gave a brief speech, calling her vote the “beginning of a vast coming together of all the patriots of the right and of the left,” claiming that the FN had destroyed “the monopoly of the two parties of the banks.” She denounced the “ultra-free-market left” and claimed that her score made it possible to “restore purchasing power and jobs.”
Le Pen and her appeals to social discontent underline the reactionary political role played by the union bureaucracy and the official “left” parties. To the extent that they use neo-Marxist rhetoric and occasional trade union protest marches as a cover for support for the policies of the banks, they suppress genuine popular opposition to austerity policies and leave the political field open to the neo-fascists.

Sarkozy and the stink bombs


Sarkozy and the stink bombs. 46995.jpeg

Two criminals, Sarkozy and Cameron
By Olivia Kroth

The incumbent French president Sarkozy spoke of journalists throwing stink bombs at him, “bules puantes,” in the Bettencourt affair, which reaches way back to the year 2007, when French billionaire Liliane Bettencourt (Oréal) secretly financed his election campaign, and which is dragged back into light now during Sarkozy’s election campaign.

More stink bombs are coming his way in the recent affair of Toulouse-gate, which is developing into an international scandal, as Algerian lawyers are implicated now.
Ten advocates will represent Mohammed Merah’s Algerian father in his lawsuit against the French police who assassinated his son, Iran’s French radio IRIB reports. Seven Algerian and 3 French lawyers, one of them a prominent personality whose name is not given, have taken up the mandate, according to Madame Zahia Mokhtari, who is Mr. Merah’s main lawyer in Algiers.
She says that she has demanded a visa for France at the Algerian Lawyers’ Association which will transmit her request to the French Consulate in Algiers. “As soon as I receive my visa, I shall depart for France to start court proceedings against RAID in Paris,” she explained at a press conference in Algiers.
Meanwhile police officials in France are getting cold feet. Claude Prouteau of GIGN, Intervention Group of the National Gendarmerie, said that RAID could easily have captured Mohammed Merah alive. He asked why they killed Merah in his apartment under a rainshower of 300 bullets, although Interior Minister, Claude Guéant, had affirmed that everything possible would be done to arrest Mohammed Merah alive.
Bernard Squarcini, head of the secret service DCRI, denies that Mohammed Merah worked for his agency, but eye witnesses say that one day before Mohammed Merah was assassinated, he had demanded to speak to his DCRI handling agent, a woman of Algerian descent.
Mohammed Merah’s older brother Abdelkader(29), who has been detained so he will not speak to the press, flatly denies that his brother was the killer in Montauban and in Toulouse. He also says that he himself is not implicated in those incidents in any way.
Just like the bodies of those three Jewish school children, allegedly shot in Toulouse, Mohammed Merah’s body never underwent autopsy, although this is a necessary procedure, required by the French criminal law.
Merah’s lawyer in Algiers asks why the French authorities are not keeping to French law: Where is the forensic report? Where is the ballistic report? She demands both reports to be handed in by French authorities for the law suit in Paris.
Furthermore, there is a discrepancy between the official report and an eye witness report, regarding the identity of the killer of three French Muslim soldiers in Montauban. The authorities insist that is was Mohammed Merah who shot them, but a lady, who bumped into the murderer as he ran away from his deed, described him as a stout, corpulent Caucasian with blue eyes and a tattoo on his chin.
Mohammed Merah, however, was a slim Arab with brown eyes and no marks on his face at all. There are videos circulating on the internet, with the eye witness speaking. Merah’s lawyer will probably ask this lady to be heard in court.
The French government has tried to prevent the court proceedings, but to no avail. Madame Mokhtari commented at the press conference in Algiers,”Mohammed Merah had French citizenship, he lived in France, was assassinated in France and buried in France. Everything happened in France. Consequently we are addressing our complaint to Justice in France.” She expressed her astonishment at the French regime’s futile attempts to prevent the proceedings.
A few weeks before the presidential elections in France, incumbent Sarkozy is walking around like a lame duck: after the catastrophe he provoked in Libya, the defeat of his secretive attempts to undermine Syria, now he has Toulouse-gate ante portas.
Above all, there is his inability of providing stable jobs, stable prices and decent social security to the French citizens who are angered by his “casse de la France,” his break-up of the country.
Sarkozy wasted billions of Euros on bombing Libya, money he would better have used for the upkeep of infrastructure back home.
Furthermore he dissipated French taxpayers’ money to pay for dissenters in Syria. According to Wikileaks, the FUKUS axis of France, the UK and the USA, spent 6 million dollars in 2007 alone to pay Syrian emigrants for raising hell in Syria. How many more millions were spent in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011? How many of those dear millions were chipped in by France?
The French taxpayers will never get to know the exact numbers, which might be better after all, lest they bombard Sarkozy with more foul eggs. On his last visit to Bayonne, a small border town between France and Spain, Sarkozy was booed, punched and pelted with eggs. He ran into a bar to save himself. Later he said that it was his rival Hollande from the Socialist Party who had organized the event.
We could laugh at this punch-and-judy show, if the shootings were not so tragic. It is high time for France to find peace again.
Prepared for publication by:
Lisa Karpova

Save France from the CIA, MOSSAD and Al Qaeda!


By Olivia Kroth
One month before the presidential elections, France had its newest sensation, a western cowboy style film with the headline “greatest manhunt in history,” showing Nicolas Sarkozy’s tragically pale face with tightly shut lips and wrinkled forehead, worrying about the future of France.
His polls were down low lately because French voters judged his political performance as bad, worse, worst. So Sarkozy hung on to his cowboy film with the “greatest manhunt in history” script like a dead fly to the window grid. The blown-up story was his last hope of winning voters and augmenting his chance in the upcoming elections.
France is home to the largest Jewish community in Europe. Around 700,000 Jews reside in the country. The story of the shooting at a Jewish school came in handy for Sarkozy, but many French people have their doubts.
The online media, Alterinfo, brought several articles, asking about the truth of the story.
There was a lot of bang-boom, patati and patata around the building, with a whole squadron of RAID police running around the block day and night, police cars with sirens screeching, colorful carnival fireworks, plenty of press people and dumbfounded lookers-on.
But were the three Jewish school children really shot dead? If so, then why did their bodies not undergo autopsy, as is required by criminal law in France? The official information given was that after Jewish ritual, the burials had to take place within 48 hours.
Some readers in their comments on Alterinfo mused about the absence of dead bodies. Could it be that those allegedly shot children were in reality whisked away to Israel?  People know that Jews do not kill other Jews. They believe that this “shooting” was a MOSSAD hoax to enhance their buddy Sarkozy’s chances in the election. It seems to be some sort of false flag operation, with dark forces trying to instill fear in French citizens.
If the alleged killer of the French Muslim parachutists in Montauban and the French Jewish children in Toulouse really belonged to the Al Qaeda network, then French voters have every right to ask Sarkozy why he supports Al Qaeda terrorists in Libya and in Syria, where French secret services are currently arming and training these terrorists to topple Bashar al-Assad’s government.
Sarkozy’s protection and support of Al Qaeda in Libya and Syria is like an invitation of Al Qaeda to France. The chickens always come home to roost.
The French people also asked why the “massive manhunt” was drawn-out so long, with endless reports, features, interviews and TV talk shows, before the young Frenchman of Algerian origin was finally liquidated by RAID policemen in his tiny apartment of 38 square metres.
Are the French police so incompetent that they are unable to capture a killer faster than that?
In Afghanistan, Libya and Syria, the French soldiers and secret service men work much faster, killing hundreds, even thousands of innocent people in the spur of a few minutes.
It was pathetic how Sarkozy’s wrinkled face was shown again and again, keeping “a minute of silence” for the victims in France, because he is the one who produces non-stop victims in Afghanistan, Libya and Syria by sending French killers to these Muslim countries in order to silently genocide their populations.
According to Gavin Hewitt of BBC, Mohammed Merah (23) was trained and handled by the French secret service DCRI.  He had a passport with an entry stamp for Israel. What did this young Muslim do in Israel?
He also had the direct phone line number of a French secret service agent of DCRI, who probably was his personal handler and trainer. What did they talk about on the telephone?
Mohammed Merah was obviously on best terms with the French secret services before they decided to set him up and annihilate him.
Was he a sort of stupid little patsy, an Algerian sheep in the wool of a French wolf?
Formerly, he had allegedly received his training in the CIA base of Bagram in Afghanistan by the secret service organization DCHC.
The Pentagon and the CIA are known to specialize in the creation of Al Qaeda terrorists for world-wide use.
Since the times of entry into NATO, France seems to have degenerated into some sort of banana republic, with growing state debt, unemployment and a president who is involved in shady business, to put it mildly.
The times of such noble patriots as General Charles de Gaulle are long gone, alas.  Let’s hope that France will find a new president soon, one who truly has French blood and honor in his veins, one who does not resort to all kinds of crooked shenanigans and endangers his citizens’ lives in order to remain in power.
The French will not forget the latest coup d’état with which Sarkozy, together with his best friends from the CIA, MOSSAD and Al Qaeda, tried to pull the wool over his voters’ eyes.
It is high time for him to leave France in peace.
 Prepared for publication by:
Lisa Karpova

Reports indicate Toulouse gunman was French intelligence asset

By Alex Lantier 

28 March 2012
Press reports and comments by top intelligence officials suggest that Mohamed Merah, the alleged gunman who killed seven people including three Jewish schoolchildren in a nine-day shooting spree in Toulouse, was a French intelligence asset.
These revelations raise questions about French intelligence’s failure to stop Merah, and whether this failure was dictated by political considerations. The investigation of Merah was led by the Central Directorate of Internal Intelligence (DCRI), run by Bernard Squarcini—a close associate of incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy. Sarkozy, previously running far behind Socialist Party (PS) candidate François Hollande in next month’s presidential elections, has benefited from massive media coverage after the attacks and now is catching up to Hollande in polls.
In a March 23 Le Monde interview, Squarcini had confirmed that Merah had traveled extensively in the Middle East, even though his legal earnings were roughly at the minimum wage: “He spent time with his brother in Cairo after having traveled in the Near East: Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and even Israel. … Then he went to Afghanistan via Tajikistan. He took unusual routes and did not appear on our radars, nor those of French, American, or local foreign intelligence services.”
Squarcini apparently aimed to bolster the official explanation for Merah’s ability to escape police: he was an undetectable “self-radicalized lone wolf.” This story is being shattered by revelations that French intelligence agencies were apparently in close contact with Merah, trying to develop him as an informant inside Islamist networks.
Yesterday Les Inrockuptibles noted Italian reports that Merah worked for France’s main foreign intelligence agency, the General Directorate of External Security (DGSE). It cited the paper Il Foglio: “According to intelligence sources that spoke to Il Foglio, the General Directorate of External Security obtained entry into Israel for him in 2010, presenting him as an informant, passing through a border post with Jordan. … His entry into Israel, covered by the French, sought to prove to the jihadist network that he could cross borders with a European passport.”
Contacted by Les Inrockuptibles, the DGSE refused to confirm or deny Il Foglio’s story: “The DGSE does not discuss its sources or its operations, real or imagined.”
In comments yesterday to La Dépêche du Midi, Yves Bonnet—the former chief of the Territorial Surveillance Directorate (DST), now absorbed into the DCRI—also asked whether Merah was a DCRI asset.
Bonnet said, “What is nonetheless surprising is that he was known to the DCRI, not only because he was an Islamist, but because he had a correspondent at the domestic intelligence agency. Having a correspondent, it is unusual. It’s not unexceptional. Call it a correspondent, call it a handler … I don’t know how far his relations or his collaboration with the service went, but one can ask questions.”
Squarcini denied yesterday that Merah was “an informant of the DCRI or of any French or foreign service.” However, his interview in Le Monde suggests that Merah was precisely that.
By Squarcini’s own admission, Merah repeatedly visited DCRI offices after his trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan—in October and November 2011—to discuss what he had seen. Squarcini called this “an administrative interview without coercion, as we were not in a judicial setting.” Thus Merah was freely giving the DCRI information it wanted to know; that is, he acted as an informant, officially or otherwise.
These revelations make officials’ failure to identify and stop Merah all the more inexplicable. They also raise the issue of whether French intelligence officials were behind the highly irregular delays in the investigation of the shootings.
Though the shootings took place on March 11, March 15, and March 19, Merah only fell under suspicion on March 20—after police compared a short list of Toulouse-area Islamists with a list of IP addresses of computers having browsed an Internet ad posted by the March 11 murder victim.
Journalist Didier Hassoux told Les Inrockuptibles that police obtained the list of 576 IP addresses “when the first killing, of a soldier, was reported”—that is, on March 11. However, according to surveillance technology specialist Jean-Marc Manach, the IP addresses were not sent on to Internet service providers (ISPs) for identification until five days later, on March 16. The ISPs responded the next day.
This five-day delay is very unusual, Manach notes: “Police sources told me that such operations [to obtain individual identities from ISPs] take only a few minutes. Another source, among those who usually respond to such judicial requests, said that they take ‘48 hours maximum.’”
In a further blow to the official account of Merah as a “lone wolf,” a video of the killings made by the gunman arrived to Al Jazeera late on Monday, in an envelope postmarked Wednesday, March 21. However, on that day Mohamed Merah was holed up inside his apartment under siege by police, who had also detained his brother, Abdelkader. It is unclear who mailed the video, which had been heavily edited to disguise voices—raising the possibility that Merah had accomplices in the killings.
French officials reacted ferociously to news of the video. Sarkozy called for any television channel obtaining such images not to broadcast them, while Hollande warned that Al Jazeera could lose its right to broadcast in France if it publicized the video.
Hollande’s stance on the Toulouse video reflects the capitulation of the bourgeois “left” parties in France to law-and-order hysteria after these tragic shootings. No one has demanded an investigation of the intelligence agencies’ role in the killings, though they now reek of a state operation. Nor have the French Communist Party, the New Anti-capitalist Party, or the PS pointed out that the Sarkozy administration, which has benefited electorally from the crime, faces legitimate suspicion that it might be involved.
This reflects the degeneration of the entire political establishment. Having backed imperialist wars in Muslim countries and waves of social cuts in France—as social-democratic officials in Greece pushed through even more devastating cuts demanded by the European Union—the “left” parties themselves now rely on chauvinist invocations of anti-Muslim patriotism. This leaves them prostrate before the security services and the Sarkozy administration’s attempt to turn the Toulouse shootings into the basis for what appears to be a political coup.

Who profits from the shootings in France?

Who profits from the shootings in France?. 46891.jpeg 
By Olivia Kroth
Voilà, another incident which has come just in time for the current French president to fill the mainstream media news, especially the TV screens of France, with his ubiquitous presence.  Tel Aviv and Washington seem to play their cards right. The timing is perfect. After the recent shooting of French parachutists is Montauban, now we have the new crime scene in Toulouse, with French children shot at a Jewish school.
Four weeks before the first round of the French presidential elections, Nicolas Sarkozy, best friend of the USA and Israel, gets the chance of lamenting Islamic “fundamentalism” in France, although the supposed culprit for the shootings has not even been captured yet.
But Sarkozy seems to be quite sure in advance that the man who shot in Montauban is the same who shot in Toulouse.
Sarkozy’s publicly displayed grief for the Jewish victims gives him another possibility of commenting on anti-semitism in France and singing Israel’s praise. Poor Israel, which is always threatened by the dangerous powers surrounding it, notably Syria and Iran.
Therefore Iran must be attacked as soon as possible, after the ousting of Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad, which French secret services are currently trying to do.
Sarkozy’s face, blown up “en toute grandeur”, larger than life, beaming from a zillion photos, filling all the TV screens in France, what a wonderful possibility of getting some extra boost for the ailing, failing polls, all of it for free. It won’t cost him a penny.
His favorite TV station, France 24, announces that “Nicolas Sarkozy is a politician who knows to follow the course of History,” whatever that means. The French are masters of hollow bombast.
Some people whisper behind closed doors that the shootings in Montauban and Toulouse might be a minor 9/11, not planned and executed on such a grand scale, of course. But France is just a minor country, after all, when compared to Big Brother overseas.
CIA and MOSSAD come to mind, but nobody dares say it aloud. Speaking the truth may entail harmful consequences. The Europeans know that speaking up is risky. It is better to remain quiet if you want to be safe and keep your health intact.
The chase is on in Toulouse, the supposed culprit locked in his house, surrounded by police, and press people scurrying back and forth like scared mice, while Monsieur le President is ever-present, larger than life. He needn’t even wear high heels to overcome his otherwise dwarflike stature.
Who profits from the crimes in Montauban and Toulouse? Honni soit qui mal y pense!
Defense Minister Longuet prepares the terrain, again on France 24: « Maybe we must watch more carefully all those coming from the exterior. » Which exterior? Syria or Israel? Iran or the USA?
At the ceremony for the victims of Montauban, Sarkozy rendered homage to the killed parachutists, presumably shot by the same man who shot the Jewish children in Toulouse.
Sarkozy forgot to mention in his pompous speech at Montauban that the parachutists were of Muslim Arab origin, at the service of France and its neo-colonial wars against Muslim brothers and sisters abroad.
Journalist Cyril Vanier, on France 24, commented that “the coffins of the victims will be sent to their families.” He did not mention that these are Arab families, Moslems living in France.
Of course it is not opportune to shout out loud that these Muslim parachutists lost their lives in France and for France, when the government of Sarkozy begins his electoral propaganda against Moslems. What a sinister farce!
Sarkozy instead drums about “defending the values of France”, whatever those might be, nobody exactly knows, these days. He drums on about “France having received an international mandate”. By whom? To do what?
We can only suppose that this mandate was given by Washington and Tel Aviv to first destroy Syria, later Iran. In this “international mandate” France will keep genociding Muslim nations, leading proxy wars for Israel.
If he loses the elections, Sarkozy has promised to withdraw from politics. Let’s hope that some clever Jewish real estate agent will sell him a nice beach house in Israel. Sarkozy might want to take his wife Carla and baby what’s-its-name to withdraw to his beloved Israel forever after. What a relief!
 Prepared for publication by:
Lisa Karpova
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