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All Power to the Banks! The Winners-Take-All Regime of Emmanuel Macron

Photo by Blandine Le Cain | CC BY 2.0
By Diana Johnstone | CounterPunch | May 22, 2017

A ghost of the past was the real winner of the French presidential election. Emmanuel Macron won only because a majority felt they had to vote against the ghost of “fascism” allegedly embodied by his opponent, Marine Le Pen. Whether out of panic or out of the need to feel respectable, the French voted two to one in favor of a man whose program most of them either ignored or disliked. Now they are stuck with him for five years.

If people had voted on the issues, the majority would never have elected a man representing the trans-Atlantic elite totally committed to “globalization”, using whatever is left of the power of national governments to weaken them still further, turning over decision-making to “the markets” – that is, to international capital, managed by the major banks and financial institutions, notably those located in the United States, such as Goldman-Sachs.

The significance of this election is so widely misrepresented that clarification requires a fairly thorough explanation, not only of the Macron project, but also of what the (impossible) election of Marine Le Pen would have meant.

From a Two Party to a Single Party System

Despite the multiparty nature of French elections, for the past generation France has been essentially ruled by a two-party system, with government power alternating between the Socialist Party, roughly the equivalent of the U.S. Democratic Party, and a party inherited from the Gaullist tradition which has gone through various name changes before recently settling on calling itself Les Républicains (LR), in obvious imitation of the United States. For decades, there has been nothing “socialist” about the Socialist Party and nothing Gaullist about The Republicans. In reality, both have adopted neoliberal economic policies, or more precisely, they have followed European Union directives requiring member states to adopt neoliberal economic policies. Especially since the adoption of the common currency, the euro, a little over fifteen years ago, those economic policies have become tangibly harmful to France, hastening its deindustrialization, the ruin of its farmers and the growing indebtedness of the State to private banks.

This has had inevitable political repercussions. The simplest reaction has been widespread reaction against both parties for continuing to pursue the same unpopular policies. The most thoughtful reaction has been to start realizing that it is the European Union itself that imposes this unpopular economic conformism.

To quell growing criticism of the European Union, the well-oiled Macron machine, labeled “En Marche!” has exploited the popular reaction against both governing parties. It has broken and absorbed large parts of both, in an obvious move to turn En Marche! into a single catch-all party loyal to Macron.

The destruction of the Socialist Party was easy. Since the “Socialist” government was so unpopular that it could not hope to win, it was easy to lure prominent members of that party to jump the sinking ship and rally to Macron, who had been economics minister in that unpopular government, but who was advertised by all the media as “new” and “anti-system”.

Weakening the Republicans was trickier. Thanks to the deep unpopularity of the outgoing Socialist government, the Republican candidate, François Fillon, looked like a shoo-in. But despite his pro-business economic policies, Fillon still cared about preserving France, and favored an independent foreign policy including good relations with Russia. It is unknown who dug into old records to come up with information about the allegedly fake jobs Fillon gave to his wife and children in past years, and how they were passed on to the weekly Canard Enchainé to be revealed at a critical moment in the campaign. The uproar drowned out the issues. To an electorate already wary of “establishment politicians”, these revelations were fatal. The impression that “politicians are all corrupt” played into the hands of Emmanuel Macron, too young to have done anything worse than make a few quick millions during his passage through the Rothschild Bank, and there’s nothing illegal about that.

In France, the presidential election is followed by parliamentary elections, which normally give a majority to the party of the newly elected president. But Macron had no party, so he is creating one for the occasion, made up of defectors from the major defeated parties as well as his own innovation, candidates from “civil society”, with no political experience, but loyal to him personally. These “civil society” newcomers tend to be successful individuals, winners in the game of globalized competition, who will have no trouble voting for anti-labor measures. Macron is thus confirming Marine Le Pen’s longstanding assertion that the two main parties were really one big single party, whose rhetorical differences masked their political convergence.

The Macron victory demoralized Republicans. Weakening them further, Macron named a Republican, Edouard Philippe, as his Prime Minister, in a government with four Socialist and two Republican, alongside his own selections from “civil society”.

Transforming France

Macron won in part because older voters in particular were frightened by his opponents’ hints at leaving the European Union, which they have been indoctrinated to consider necessary to prevent renewal of Europe’s old wars. But only the hysterical anti-fascist scare can explain why self-styled leftist “revolutionaries” such as François Ruffin, known for his successful anti-capitalist movie “Merci Patron”, could join the stampede to vote for Macron – promising to “oppose him later”. But how?

Later, after five years of Macron, opposition may be harder than ever. In recent decades, as manufacturing moves to low wage countries, including EU members such as Poland and Rumania, France has lost 40% of its industry. Loss of industry means loss of jobs and fewer workers. When industry is no longer essential, workers have lost their key power: striking to shut down industry. Currently the desperate workers in a failing auto-works factory in central France are threatening to blow it up unless the government takes measures to save their jobs. But violence is powerless when it has no price tag.

Emmanuel Macron has said that he wants to spend only a short time in political life, before getting back to business. He has a mission, and he is in a hurry. If he gains an absolute majority in the June parliamentary elections, he has a free hand to govern for five years. He means to use this period not to “reform” the country, as his predecessors put it, but to “transform” France into a different sort of country. If he has his way, in five years France will no longer be a sovereign nation, but a reliable region in a federalized European Union, following a rigorous economic policy made in Germany by bankers and a bellicose foreign policy made in Washington by neocons.

As usual, the newly elected French president’s first move was to rush to Berlin to assert loyalty to the increasingly lopsided “Franco-German partnership”. He was most warmly welcomed by Chancellor Angela Merkel, thanks to his clear determination to force through the austerity measures demanded by the Frankfurt budget masters. Macron hopes that his fiscal obedience will be rewarded by German consent to a European investment fund for stimulating economic growth, but this implies a degree of federalism that the pfennig-pinching Germans show little sign of accepting.

First of all, he has promised to complete the dismantling of the French labor code, which offers various protections to workers. This should save money for employers and the government. For Macron, the ruin of French industry and French farming seem to be welcome steps toward an economy of individual initiative, symbolized by startups.

The Macron program amounts to a profound ideological transformation of the French ideal of égalité, equality, from a horizontal concept, meaning equal benefits for all, to the vertical ideal of “equality of opportunity”, meaning the theoretical chance of every individual to rise above the others. This is an ideal easily accepted in the United States with its longstanding myth of the self-made man. The French have traditionally been logical enough to understand that everyone can’t rise above the others.

Horizontal equality in France has primarily meant institutional redistribution of wealth via universal access to benefits such as health care, pensions, communications and transportation facilities, allocations for families raising children, unemployment insurance, free education at all levels. These are the benefits that are under threat from the European Union in various ways. One way is the imposition of “competition” rules that impose privatization and favor foreign takeovers that transform public services into profit-seekers. Another is the imposition of public budget restrictions, along with the obligation of the State to seek private loans, increasing its debt, and the loss of tax revenue that all end up up making the State too poor to continue providing such services.

Very few French people would want to give up such horizontal equality for the privilege of hoping to become a billionaire.

Macron is sufficiently Americanized, or, to be more precise, globalized, to have declared that “there is no such thing as French culture”. From this viewpoint, France is just a place open to diverse cultures, as well as to immigrants and of course foreign capital. He has clearly signaled his rejection of French independence in the foreign policy field. Unlike his leading rivals, who all called for improved relations with Russia, Macron echoes the Russophobic line of the neocons. He broke tradition on his inauguration by riding down the Champs-Elysées in a military vehicle. A change of tone is indicated by his cabinet nominations. The title of the new foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, who served as defense minister in the Hollande government, is “Minister of Europe and of Foreign Affairs”, clearly giving Europe preference in the matter. Sylvie Goulard, an ardent Europeist who has remarked that “she does not feel French”, has been named Minister of Armies and Minister of Defense. Clearly national defense is an afterthought, when the main idea is to deploy the armed forces in various joint Western interventions.

The Divided Opposition

Unless the June parliamentary elections produce stunning surprises, the opposition to Macron’s catch-all governance party appears weak and fatally divided. The Socialist Party is almost wiped out. The Republicans are profoundly destabilized. Genuine opposition to the Macron regime can only be based on defense of French interests against EU economic dictates, starting with the euro, which prevents the country from pursuing an independent economic and foreign policy. In short, the genuine opposition must be “souverainiste”, concerned with preserving French sovereignty.

Two strong personalities emerged from the presidential election as potential leaders of that opposition: Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Marine Le Pen. But they are drastically divided.

Mélenchon ran a spectacularly popular campaign, leaving the Socialist Party far behind (the party he personally left behind years ago). Initially, as he seemed to be taking votes away from Le Pen as well as from the Socialists, he got friendly media coverage, but as he came closer to making it to the decisive second round, the tone started to change. Just as Le Pen was finally knocked out as a “fascist”, there is little doubt that had Mélenchon been Macron’s challenger, he would have been increasingly denounced as “communist”.

Mélenchon is intelligent enough to have realized that the social policies he advocates cannot be achieved unless France recovers control of its currency. He therefore took a stand against both NATO and the euro.  So did Marine Le Pen. Mélenchon was embarrassed by the resemblance between their two programs, and contrary to other eliminated candidates, refrained from endorsing Macron, instead calling on his movement, La France Insoumise, to choose between Macron and abstention. Finally, 25% of Mélenchon voters abstained in the second round, but 62% voted for Macron – almost exclusively motivated by the alleged need to “stop fascism”. That compares with the final total results of 66% for Macron and 34 % for Le Pen.

That vote confirmed the impossibility of forming a unified souverainiste opposition and allows Marine Le Pen to strengthen her claim to be the leader of a genuine opposition to Macron. She has admitted her own mistakes in the campaign, particularly in her debate with Macron, who beat her hands down with his arrogant performance as the economic expert. But despite her mere 34%, she retains the most loyal base of supporters in a changing scene. The problem for Mélenchon is that his electorate is more versatile.

Despite his loud appeal to “youth”, Macron was elected by France’s huge population of old people. Among voters over 65, he won 80% against 20% for Le Pen. Marine Le Pen did best with the youngest age group, 18 to 24, winning 44% against Macron’s 56%[1].

The differences were also significant between socio-professional categories. Macron won a whopping 83% of the votes coming from the “superior socio-professional categories” – categories where the “winners” in competitive society are largely ensconced. But in what are described as “categories populaires”, a French term for ordinary folk, with less education, the vote was 53% in favor of Le Pen. And she confirmed her position as favorite candidate of the working class, winning 63% of workers’ votes.

Note that the “superior socio-professional categories” are where the significance of these results will be defined. Individuals from that category – journalists, commentators and show business personalities – are all in a position to spread the word that this vote indicates that the workers must be “racist”, and therefore that we have narrowly escaped being taken over by “fascism”.

One of the many odd things about the latest French presidential election is the rejoicing among foreign “leftists” over the fact that the candidate of the rich roundly defeated the candidate of the poor. It used to be the other way around, but that was long ago. These days, the winners in the competitive game comfort themselves that they morally deserve their success, because they are in favor of diversity and against racism, whereas the less fortunate, the rural people and the working class, don’t deserve much of anything, because they must be “racist” to be wary of globalization.

The fact that Paris voted 90% for Macron is natural, considering that real estate prices have pushed the working class out of the capital, whose population is now overwhelmingly what is called “bobo” – the bohemian bourgeoisie, many of whom are employed in various branches of the dominant human rights ideology fabrication business: journalists, professors, teachers, consultants, the entertainment industry.  In these milieux, hardly anyone would even dare speak a positive word about Marine Le Pen.

What if Marine Le Pen had won?

Since politics is largely fantasy, we may as well try to imagine the unimaginable: what if Marine Le Pen had won the election?  This was never a realistic possibility, but it is worth imagining.

It could have had one, perhaps only one, extremely positive result: it could have freed France from its paralyzing obsession with the nonexistent “fascist threat”. The ghost would be exorcised. If the word has any meaning, “fascism” implies single party rule, whereas Marine Le Pen made clear her desire to govern by coalition, and selected the leader of a small Gaullist party, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, as her prospective prime minister. Poof! No fascism. That would have been an immeasurable benefit for political debate in France. At last genuine issues might matter. Real threats could be confronted.

Another advantage would have been the demise of the National Front. Since Marine Le Pen took over the notorious party founded by her reactionary father, it has kept a precarious balance between two opposing wings. There is the right wing in the southeast, along the Riviera, the bastion of the party’s founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, a region represented in the outgoing parliament by his conservative granddaughter Marion Maréchal Le Pen. In the old industrial northeast region, between Arras and Lille, Marine Le Pen has built her own bastion, as champion of ordinary working people, where she won a majority of votes in the presidential election.

This is not the only time in history when an heiress has gone away with the heritage to join someone of whom her father disapproves. All those who want to cling to their comforting hatred of the left’s official Satan have trouble believing that Marine Le Pen broke with her reactionary father to go her own way (just as U.S. hawks couldn’t believe in Gorbachev). This change owes everything to her encounter with Florian Philippot, an intellectual who gave up on the ability of the Socialists to face the real issues. Marine has the personal qualities of a leader, and Philippot provided the intellectual substance she needed. Marine has decisively chosen Philippot as her advisor and co-leader, despite grumblings by Jean-Marie that she has been led astray by a gay Marxist. Had Marine won, her left wing would have been strengthened enough to enable her and Philippot to scrap the National Front and found a new “Patriot Party”.  However, by scoring below 40%, she has weakened her authority and must try to hold the troublesome party together in order to win seats in the new parliament – which will not be easy.

Marine Le Pen would have tried to enact measures to save French industry and the jobs it provides, provide various benefits for low-income people, withdraw from NATO, and even promote a peaceful world, starting with friendly relations with Russia. She would even have begun to prepare her compatriots for escape from the euro.

But not to worry, none of this “fascist” program would ever have come to pass. If she had won, bands of protesting “antifascists” would have invaded the streets, smashing windows and attacking police. The outgoing Socialist government was preparing to use the resulting chaos as a pretext to stay in power long enough to manage the parliamentary elections[2], ensuring that President Marine Le Pen would be held in check. A “color revolution” was ready to be stirred up. The deep state is vigilant in NATOland.

Diana Johnstone is co-author of “From MAD to Madness: Inside Pentagon Nuclear War Planning”, by Paul H. Johnstone, her father. She can be reached at diana.johnstone@wanadoo.fr

Notes

[1] According to poll of 7,752 representative voters by Le Figaro/LCI,

[2]Si Le Pen avait été élue… le plan secret pour ‘protéger la République’”, Le Nouvel Observateur, May 17, 2017

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

May 22, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

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

By James Petras :: 05.21.2017 

Introduction

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

Macron and ‘What People’?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

President Macron: By the Ballot or the Bullet

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

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

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

The Corporate Elite: President Macron Adopts Napoleonic Decrees

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reflections on the counter-revolution in France

Image by Andrija Vukovic
By Frank* | OffGuardian | May 20, 2017

One of the more significant features of the recent French Presidential election was the widespread predictability of the outcome. It was taken for granted that the establishment, cardboard cut-out, hologram candidate – Macron – representing the alt-centre, would win the final electoral contest against Madame Le Pen by a comfortable margin; and so it turned out, Macron winning by 66% to Le Pen’s 34% of votes cast. Okay, there was a widespread abstention amounting to 25% of the registered electorate, a 10% spoliation of ballot papers, and, in addition, tactical voting against Le Pen in the second-round run-off.

This left about 25% of the French electorate, those overwhelmingly petit-bourgeois and miscellaneous air-heads, who voted for Marcon rather than against Le Pen, but who had scant ideas of what Macron’s programme for France would entail. This wasn’t surprising, however, since he was simply a continuity candidate who offered nothing remotely significant in policy terms other than more of the same.

So, a candidate who has not been positively endorsed by 75% of the French electorate, and who seemingly has nothing to offer other than the continuation of wrecking ball neo-liberalism gets to be President of France for the next 5 years.

Upon consideration, it seems, the moral of the story is that the hard left, and hard right will continue to be shut out of power by the hard centre-right, centre-left, liberal coalition. This prompts a possibility of something quite heretical: to wit, is it possible for someone like Le Pen to form a working coalition, or at least an understanding, with someone like Melenchon?

After all the economic and foreign policies seem virtually identical. But understandably, perhaps, the left has historically been loath to consider such a course of action. Moreover, we have heard all the fascist anti-capitalist rhetoric before: The economic programme of the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers’ Party – Nazis) particularly that emanating from the leftist elements in the SA (stormtroopers) and luminaries such as Ernst Rohm, the Strasser Brothers and Gottfried Feder, the party’s leading economist, were clear enough. As early as 1919 Anton Drexler opined that:

Toiling Germany is the victim of greedy western power’’ quoted by Daniel Guerin in Fascism and Big Business

This was an obvious allusion to the Treaty of Versailles, a conclusion which was shared by J.M.Keynes in The Economic Consequences of the Peace’’ (1919). Drexler goes on

The German workers must realize that never before enslaved as they are today by foreign capitalism … the struggle for liberation which the proletariat is carrying on as the most oppressed section of an oppressed nation is a civil war that we are no longer waging against ourselves but against the world bourgeoisie. (op.cit).

This was a view seconded by Gregor Strasser:

German industry and economy is in the hands of international finance capital; it means an end of all possibility of social liberation; it means the end of all dreams of a socialist Germany … We young Germans of the war generation, we ardent socialists, are waging a fight against capitalism and imperialism incarnated in the Versailles treaty.’’ (op.cit)

All very left-wing and stirring stuff. But the advertised National Socialist revolution never arrived. It was ruthlessly crushed by Hitler’s Pretorian Guard – the SS – during the Night of the Long Knives July 1934. Hitler was only stringing along the SA for his own purposes of winning the battle of ideas and the battle of the Streets. When he had achieved this goal, the SA became expendable.

The left would, therefore, be prudent not to recognise the radical opportunism of fascism.

Warning heeded.

But in what sense is Le Pen and the FN fascistic? Particularly, since the term has become increasingly redundant. In policy terms, she seems to be a leading part of the anti-systemic revolt against globalization. All well and good if this is taken at face value. Moreover, there seems little imperialist element in her programme, unlike, Macron, the globalist neo-con who many of the left saw fit to vote for to stop Le Pen. Le Pen’s FN is not an aggressive movement directed at other nations and peoples living beyond its borders but essentially a defensive movement fighting for the right of any nation for self-determination which is under attack by the globalist elites who control political-economic unions like the EU. Talking of Nazis, it should be borne in mind that the neo-cons – the military wing of the globalization project – have nurtured and protected their own brand of bona fide fascism in Ukraine and the Baltics.

The rise of neo-nationalism in the globalization era, as a movement for national sovereignty, has nothing to with the rise of what we may call ‘Euro-fascism’ … in the Baltics and Ukraine. The unifying element of these euro-fascists is that they implicitly or explicitly accept the New World Order (WTO) of neoliberal globalization. If not in their official ideology then at least in their practice. This is the case for instance of Ukrainian Euro-fascists (Svoboda, Right Sector Patriots of the Ukraine and the Azov Regiment) who were massacring people in the Maidan and in Odessa under the flag of the EU, sometimes juxtaposed to Swastikas! And were fully backed and funded (still are) by the west, i.e, the EUSA.’’ The New World Order in Action – Takis Fotopoulos)

The Azov Battalion. Note the yellow flags with the wartime German Waffen SS ‘Wolfsangel’ insignia in front of Stepan Bandera Statue

Please note flags of the Azov Battalion, centre, NATO left, and Nazi, right.

However much of the Left seems to have missed these political nuances and still imagine that they are living in the era of the Popular Front of the 1930s. This was cogently pointed out by Aidan Obrien in Counterpunch :

“Most western progressives however are stuck in the 1930s. They see Hitler everywhere. They’re still fighting the Spanish Civil War! Their advice – the advice of Noam Chomsky in America and Yanis Varoufakis in Europe – is to always follow the example of the 1930s and form something like a united front against fascism. In today’s elections that means joining up with the liberals to keep out the extremists.

But who are the extremists? Who are today’s psychopathic killers and psychopathic slave-drivers? Since 2002 it has been the advocates of liberalism. The fascists don’t even come close. The forces of “individual freedom” have given us the on-going holocaust in the Middle East. And the champions of the “free market” have more respect for Guantanamo Bay prisoners than they do for the international working class.

And who are the racists? Right before our eyes we are seeing one genocide and seeing the preparation for two or three more. The Arabs – this instant – are being burnt alive. And the Koreans, Russians and Chinese are next in line. And the Africans and Latin Americans? No one cares anymore about those sub-humans! The fascists are not responsible for this “divide, kill, starve and rule” global agenda. On the contrary it is the lovable liberals who are masterminding this – the final solution to the White Man’s Burden.’’

All very true. The point that must also be made was that both German and Italian Nazism/Fascism were both expansionist, imperialist doctrines which took war and conquest as a given policy. Hitler’s ‘Lebensraum’ and military expansion to the east was openly declared in Mein Kampf, and Mussolini’s military (mis)adventures in both East Africa and the Balkans were a confirmation of the genuine fascism of both dictators. To repeat, however, Le Pen has publicly stated that she wishes to withdraw from NATO, which sounds very Gaullist, compared to the continued and militant presence in France of NATO and its globalist backed geopolitical expansionist policies in eastern Europe. So, who is the imperialist warmonger, Macron and the neo-cons, or Le Pen and her neo-Gaullism? Rhetorical question really.

What would seem to be the great stumbling block to any rapprochement between left and right against the mutual class enemy, which might be formal or informal, is the knotty question of immigration. Large scale immigration into Europe has been a function of two factors.

  1. The immigration from eastern Europe to western Europe which has been a function of Eastern European integration into the EU (and often into NATO).
  2. The forced migration from the war zones in the middle-east and north Africa into southern Europe as the landing stage.

In terms of migration from Eastern to Western Europe there has taken place population declines in every Eastern European country with the exception of Czech Republic, Slovakia and Russia (although Russia is a special case). This is due in part to the economic collapse of countries such as Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania that have given rise to large scale migration, but also due to a declining birth-rate, and increasing death rates, which of course is related to the economic situation in these states.

The population of Lithuania has fallen by 12% since 2006, Latvia also by 12%, Ukraine by 9% (although this was due to migration to Poland and refugees seeking safety in Russia) Romania 7%, Hungary 8.5%, Bulgaria 6%, Poland 1%. As a result, there has been a wave of economic migrants from the old Soviet sphere of influence into the west. This was one of the principal outcomes of the removal of national borders and free movement of labour under, along with free movement of capital and commodities enshrined in the EU Constitution. Between 1990 and 2003 an average of about 60,000 migrants came to the UK each year; between 2004 and 2012 the figure rose to 170,000 the 2011 census put the number of UK residents from Poland alone at 650,000.

Secondly there was the unscheduled mass movement of non-European refugees from a vast conflict area stretching from Nigeria and Mali, through the middle-east to Afghanistan (MENA). This of course has been the result of the ‘war on terror’ carried out by the US and its euro vassals which has wrecked country after country in the MENA.

The first migration wave was not accidental; it was formulated and enabled by globalist elites under the banner of free-movement; free-movement of labour, capital and commodities. This of course will have the intended effect of a downward harmonisation on wages, working conditions, corporation tax, welfare spending, privatisation and deregulation. Sovereign nations will be disempowered, and global multinationals already thus enabled, will be even further empowered by trade treaties such as TTIP and/or Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA).

The second wave of unauthorised migration came from MENA and complemented the first, only under banner of the Refugee crisis.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that the sticky finger prints of George – Mr Colour Revolution – Soros, have been all over this wave of humanity. According to Associated Press :

Soros to invest $500 million to Help Refugees and Migrants’’ ABC News, 20/09/2016.

This is a dual crisis engineered by the globalists in Brussels and the neo-cons in Washington its object being to destabilise Europe and colonize the MENA.

As Le Pen commented:

Globalization is a barbarity; it is the country which should limit its abuses and regulate it (globalization). Today the world is in the hands of multinational corporations, and large international finance … immigration weighs down on wages whilst the minimum wage is now becoming the maximum wage.’’

Unfortunately, the centre-left no longer uses this sort of rhetoric – or indeed practise – and instead covertly, and sometimes even openly, supports the globalist agenda, with occasional reservations of course. What is usually trotted out is the well-worn ‘there is no alternative’ (TINA) argument which is assumed to be unanswerable. Change the EU from the inside! Don’t overthrow the Bourbons, reform them! This in fact is the response of the collaborationist.

No wonder most members of the old working class have abandoned their ‘’natural’ leaders (Labour and Green parties) and even their own trade union leaders (apart from a few honourable exceptions) … even when their immediate motive is the fight against immigration, indirectly their fight is against globalization, as they realize that it is the opening of all markets, including labour markets … which is the direct cause of their unemployment or low-wage employment.’’ (Fotopoulos – Ibid.)

We live in enigmatic times: the left has moved right and the right has moved left. Strange alliances seem to be forming, new pathways emerging. The real left must reconfigure its theories and practice to oppose the New World Order – it is imperative. In the words of Lenin and before him Chernyshevsky – ‘What Is To Be Done?’’

With apologies to Edmund Burke for the paraphrase

May 20, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

International campaign is criminalizing criticism of Israel as ‘antisemitism’

International campaign is criminalizing criticism of Israel as ‘antisemitism’

Delegates at the 2009 Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism convention in London. The organization issued a declaration calling on governments to use an Israel-centric definition of antisemitism and to outlaw and prosecute such “antisemitism.”

For two decades, some Israeli officials and Israel partisans have worked to embed a new, Israel-focused definition of antisemitism in institutions around the world, from international bodies and national governments to small college campuses in heartland America. This effort is now snowballing rapidly. As a result, advocacy for Palestinian rights is well on the way to being curtailed and even criminalized as “hate.”

By Alison Weir | If Americans Knew | May 18, 2017

As the world has witnessed the oppression and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, many people have risen in protest. In response, the Israeli government and certain of its advocates have conducted a campaign to crack down on this activism, running roughshod over civil liberties (and the English language) in the process.

The mechanism of this crackdown is the redefinition of “antisemitism”[1] to include criticism of Israel, and the insertion of this definition into the bodies of law of various countries.

Where most people would consider “antisemitism” to mean bigotry against Jewish people (and rightly consider it abhorrent), for two decades a campaign has been underway to replace that definition with an Israel-centric definition. That definition can then be used to block speech and activism in support of Palestinian human rights as “hate.” Various groups are applying this definition in law enforcement evaluations of possible crimes.

Proponents of this Israel-centric definition have promoted it step by step in various arenas, from the U.S. State Department and European governments to local governments around the U.S. and universities.

While this effort has taken place over the last two decades, it is snowballing rapidly at this time. The definition is increasingly being used to curtail free speech and academic freedom, as well as political activism.

Furthermore, such politicizing of an important word may reduce its effectiveness when real antisemitism occurs, doing a disservice to victims of true bigotry.

As of this writing, the U.S. Congress has endorsed the distorted definition, the governments of the UK and Austria have officially adopted it (in December and April, respectively), various U.S. State legislatures are considering it, and numerous universities are using it to delineate permissible discourse. Many representatives and heads of other states around the world have embraced the new meaning, even if they have yet to officially implement it.

This article will examine the often interconnected, incremental actions that got us where we are, the current state of affairs, and the public relations and lobbying efforts that are promoting this twisting of the definition of “antisemitism” — often under cover of misleadingly named “anti-racism” movements.

Claims of “Antisemitism” Used to Silence Support for Palestinians

For many years, numerous respected organizations have documented Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights, including killing of Palestinian civilians, abuse of Palestinian children, torture of Palestinian prisoners, confiscation of Palestinian land, and other cases of systematic violence and oppression. Detailed reports have been compiled by Defense for Children International, the International Red Cross, Amnesty International, Foreign Service Journal, Physicians for Human rights, Christian Aid, Human Rights Watch, the National Lawyers Guild, Israel’s Public Committee Against Torture, Israel’s B’Tselem and others.

Israel long claimed that its 1948 creation was on “a land without a people for a people without a land,” and many people may still believe this founding myth. The fact is, however, that the land was originally inhabited by an indigenous population that was approximately 80 percent Muslim, 15 percent Christian, and a little under 5 percent Jewish. The Jewish State of Israel was created through the ejection of approximately three-quarters of a million people.

Over the decades since Israel’s founding in 1948, accusations of antisemitism have been leveled against many people who criticized Israeli actions. Indeed, the accusation was used effectively to silence very prominent critics.[2]

However, for most of that time, the meaning of the term itself was not in question. The standard definition was, in Google’s terms, “hostility to or prejudice against Jews.”[3] Around the turn of this century, though, certain advocates began promoting official and even legal definitions of antisemitism that included various kinds of criticism of Israel.

Conflating Criticism of Israel with Antisemitism

Natan Sharansky, Israeli minister, in 2003: “The State of Israel has decided to take the gloves off and implement a coordinated counteroffensive against anti-Semitism.” Sharansky’s formulation formed the basis for the new Israel-centric definitions adopted around the world.

Unsurprisingly, the new definitions appear to have originated from within the Israeli government, or at least with an Israeli government official.

The definitions adhere to a pattern set by a man named Natan Sharansky, who was Israel’s Minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs and chair of the Jewish Agency for Israel. Sharansky founded a Global Forum against Anti-Semitism in 2003, stating: “The State of Israel has decided to take the gloves off and implement a coordinated counteroffensive against anti-Semitism.”

But Sharansky apparently didn’t mean a counteroffensive against just anti-Jewish bigotry, but an offensive against criticism of Israel. The following year he wrote a position paper that declared: “Whereas classical anti-Semitism is aimed at the Jewish people or the Jewish religion, ‘new anti-Semitism’ is aimed at the Jewish state.”

Sharansky’s paper laid out what he called the “3-D Test of Anti-Semitism.” Sharansky applied the term “antisemitic” to criticism of Israel in three cases. First, he argued that statements that “demonize” Israel are antisemitic — by being, in his mind, unfairly harsh. (Some of those allegedly guilty of “demonizing” Israel are Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu, Alice Walker, Human Rights Watch, Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, French President François Mitterrand, and others.)

Second, Sharansky declared that it’s antisemitic to apply a “double standard” to Israel — in other words, to criticize Israel for actions that other states may also take. However, if one could never criticize, protest or boycott abuses without calling out every single other similar abuse, no one would ever be able to exercise political dissent at all.

Finally, Sharansky said it’s antisemitic to “delegitimize” Israel, or dispute its “right to exist” (a standard Israeli talking point for many years). In fact, insisting Israel has the “right” to exist amounts to saying it had the right to expel Muslim and Christian Palestinians in order to found a religiously exclusive state. (See “What ‘Israel’s right to exist’ means to Palestinians,” by John Whitbeck, published in the Christian Science Monitor.)[4]

Sharansky’s outline provided the pattern for a European agency to create a new definition of antisemitism the next year, 2005 — a definition that would then be adopted by a succession of organizations and governments, including the U.S. State Department.

Jean Kahn (R) with French President Francois Mitterand. Kahn initiated the creation of the European Monitoring Centre, which released an Israel-centric “working” definition of antisemitism.

There is a back story to how this all came about.

This European agency itself was founded and run by a man with important connections to Israel. It was called “The European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia,” under the Council of the European Union. A Frenchman named Jean Kahn had convinced European heads of state to create it in 1997.

Kahn had been a President of the European Jewish Congress, elected in a plenary session in Israel, and said the Congress “would demonstrate its solidarity with Israel” and that he hoped European countries would “coordinate their legislation outlawing racism, anti-Semitism or any form of exclusion.”

Kahn was chairman of the Monitoring Centre’s management board and called the “personification” of the agency. Within three years, the Centre issued a position paper calling for the definition of anti-Semitic offenses to be “improved.”

A few years later, Israeli professor Dina Porat took up the effort to create a new definition. Working with her were Kenneth Stern and Rabbi Andrew “Andy” Baker of the American Jewish Committee. Stern reports that when the Monitoring Centre’s then head, Beate Winkler, had failed to deliver the desired definition, Andy Baker “smartly developed a working relationship with her.” Stern and others[5] then created a draft for the Monitoring Centre to use.

Israeli Dina Porat, Kenneth Stern, Rabbi Andrew Baker worked to draft what became the European Monitoring Centre definition of antisemitism.

In 2005 the agency issued its “Working Definition of Anti-Semitism,” largely based on that draft. It included an array of negative statements about Israel as examples of antisemitic offenses. While standard dictionary definitions of antisemitism didn’t even mention Israel, fully half of the newly devised Monitoring Centre definition referred to Israel.

Once the Monitoring Centre had created its expanded definition, certain Israel partisans used it to promote similar definitions elsewhere. And while the Monitoring Centre itself continued to term it only a “working” definition and its replacement organization eventually withdrew the definition, in other countries and agencies the expanded definition became official.

In addition, quite frighteningly, proponents pushed successfully to begin applying the Israel-centric definition to law enforcement.

In the United States

The same year Sharansky created his “3-D” antisemitism test — a year after he founded the Global Forum against Anti-Semitism — the U.S. Congress passed a law establishing exceptional government monitoring of antisemitism. The law created a special State Department envoy and office for this monitoring, over objections of the State Department itself.

The law, called the “Global Anti-Semitism Review Act,” included a line that subverted its meaning by enshrining a new definition of antisemitism aligned with Sharansky’s: “Anti-Semitism has at times taken the form of vilification of Zionism, the Jewish national movement, and incitement against Israel.”

The bill was introduced in April 2004. That June, a Congressional hearing was conducted about how to combat antisemitism. A major witness was Israeli minister Sharansky. In his testimony Sharansky proposed his “3-D” Israel-connected definition for anti-Semitism.[6]

State Department officials objected to the proposed legislation, saying the new office was unnecessary and would be a “bureaucratic nuisance” that would actually hinder the Department’s ongoing work. A State Department press release opposing the new office described the many actions that State was already taking against antisemitism.

Despite this opposition, the Senate bill acquired 24 cosponsors representing both parties, including Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Diane Feinstein, Russ Feingold, Sam Brownback, Saxby Chambliss and Ted Stevens. Similar bills (here and here) were introduced in the House of Representatives, acquiring 35 cosponsors, again including both Republican and Democratic leaders. The legislation passed easily and quickly became law.

Gregg Rickman, first U.S. antisemitism envoy, later worked for AIPAC.

The first Special Envoy, Gregg Rickman, endorsed the European Monitoring Centre’s Working Definition in 2008. Rickman’s report called it a “useful framework” for identifying and understanding antisemitism. After Rickman left the State Department, he went to work for the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the major Israel advocacy organization that lobbies Congress.

The next Special Envoy, Hannah Rosenthal, took this campaign a major step forward: In 2010 the office officially adopted the European Monitoring Centre’s definition.

Rosenthal was extremely proud of having achieved this “breakthrough” definition. She began making use of it quickly, establishing a 90-minute course on the new antisemitism at the Foreign Service Institute, the training school for diplomats.

“We have now a definition we can train people on,” she told the Times of Israel, “and we’ve been very aggressive in training foreign service officers.”

Rosenthal announced that with the new definition including criticism of Israel, their reporting on antisemitism improved “300 percent,” even though, she said, that didn’t mean that antisemitism had actually increased in all the countries monitored.

Hannah Rosenthal adopted the “breakthrough” Israel related definition and promptly used it in training U.S. diplomats.

The gloves were off. Now fully half of the official U.S. State Department definition of antisemitism had gone beyond the normal meaning of the world to focus on Israel.

Applying the New Definition to U.S. Citizens

The State Department uses the new definition to monitor activities overseas. But once the State Department definition was in place, efforts began to use it to crack down on political and academic discourse and activism within the U.S.

This past December (2016) the U.S. Senate passed a law to apply the State Department’s definition (i.e. the Sharansky-Stern-Rosenthal definition) of antisemitism to the Education Department, for use in investigating reports of religiously motivated campus crimes.

A companion bill for the House is supported by AIPAC, the ADL, the Jewish Federations of North America and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

South Carolina’s House of Representatives recently passed legislation under which the State Department’s definition “would be used in probes of possible anti-Semitism at state colleges and universities.” The state senate will consider this in 2018. If passed, it will mean that the state will now probe criticism of Israel on state campuses.

Similar bills are being considered in Virginia and Tennessee.

Such efforts are also ongoing in California. In December Democrat Brad Sherman called on the California Secretary of Education to “expand its definition to include certain forms of anti-Israel behavior.” Pro-Israel organizations such as the Amcha Initiative have also been pushing the state legislature for several years to officially adopt the State Department definition. So far these have been defeated but continue to be promoted.

U.S. Campuses

A parallel effort has been occurring on U.S. campuses. In 2003 Sharansky said that college campuses were “one of the most important battlefields” for Israel.

In 2015 University of California President Janet Napolitano (head of 10 campuses) publicly supported adopting the state department definition, after 57 rabbis sent a letter to her and the University Board of Regents promoting the definition.

Student councils or other groups at various universities have passed resolutions adopting the State Department definition, which can then be used to block campus events about Palestine.

An AIPAC official announced at the 2010 convention: “We’re going to make certain that pro-Israel students take over the student government. That is how AIPAC operates in our nation’s capitol. This is how AIPAC must operate on our nation’s campuses.”

An ongoing campaign to ensure Israel partisans become influential in student government has supported these efforts. This campaign was announced by an AIPAC leader in 2010: “We’re going to make certain that pro-Israel students take over the student government,” he said. “That is how AIPAC operates in our nation’s capitol. This is how AIPAC must operate on our nation’s campuses.” (Video here.)

Resolutions referencing the Israel-centric definitions have now been passed by student governments at UC Santa Barbara, UCLA, East Carolina UniversityIndiana University, Ohio’s Capital University, Ohio’s Kent State, Orange County’s Chapman University, San Diego State University, and other campuses around the country.[7]

An example of these resolutions is the 2015 bill at Indiana University. The resolution denounced anti-Semitism “as defined by the United States State Department” and stated that the student government would not fund antisemitic activities or activities that “undermine the right of the Jewish people to self-determination.” It also said that IUSA executives and Congress members would undergo diversity training on anti-Semitism.

According to the student newspaper, the bill was written by Rebekah Molasky, a fellow with the international pro-Israel organization Stand With Us. After the resolution was passed, “the bill’s sponsors and outside supporters hugged and high-fived before gathering in the hallway to take a picture to commemorate the moment.”

As evidenced above, such resolutions can now be used to censor student events. The UC San Diego resolution largely replicated the Indiana format, announcing that the student government will not support activities that “promote anti-Semitism” under the new definition, including “denying Israel the right to exist.” Stand With Us applauded the resolution.

In 2012, an organization called the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under the Law was founded and immediately began promoting the new definition. Within a year it launched an initiative to establish student chapters at law schools throughout the U.S. to advance “the organization’s mandate to combat campus anti-Semitism through legal means.” The Center helped push the South Carolina legislation. It is one of numerous organizations promoting the new definition.

(Incidentally, former Supreme Court Justice Brandeis was a leader in the world Zionist movement and worked in public and covert ways to promote it — see here.)

“Thought Policing”

A number of analysts have pointed out some of the many significant flaws with such legislation.

Anthony L. Fisher at Reason.com writes of Congress’s December law applying the State Department definition to the Education Department: “It gives the federal government the authority to investigate ideas, thoughts, and political positions as violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

Fisher continues: “By specifically using the broad language of a 2010 State Department memo attempting to define anti-Semitism, the Senate bill wades into thought policing.”

Attorney Liz Jackson wrote in an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times : “Anyone who values the constitutional right to express political dissent should worry about this development.”

NY Times columnist Bret Stephens says Jewish Americans should “do all we can to assure the survival of the Jewish State.”

On the other side of the debate is New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, formerly Wall Street Journal deputy editorial page editor and before that editor of an Israeli newspaper. Stephens, extremely hawkish on Israel, writes and speaks fervently against the movement to boycott Israel (BDS) and what he says is antisemitism on US campuses and elsewhere. In a Wall Street Journal editorial, he claimed that “anti-Semitism is the disease of the Arab world.”

In 2014 Stephens spoke at the Tikvah Fund, a philanthropic foundation committed to supporting the “Jewish people and the Jewish State,” opining that it would be a scandal if Jewish people failed “to do all we can to assure the survival of the Jewish State.”

U.S. and European Lawmakers Pressure Governments to Ban Criticism of Israel

During all this time, parallel efforts to promote the new definition continued in Europe.

In 2009 an organization called the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (ICCA) took up the effort to spread the expanded definition. The group says it brings together parliamentarians from “around the world” to fight antisemitism and lists a steering committee of six European and U.S. legislators.

UK politician (and later Prime Minister) David Cameron signed the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition statement calling on governments to outlaw certain forms of criticism of Israel, including calls to boycott Israel; to regulate criticism of Israel in the media; to monitor criticism of Israel online and elsewhere; and to prosecute critics of Israel under “hate crimes” legislation.

The group held a conference in London in 2009 at which it issued a “London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism,” which was signed by then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and other heads of state and legislators. This declaration called on governments to use the European Monitoring Centre’s definition and to outlaw and prosecute such “antisemitism.”

It was couched in “anti-racism” terms, but when we look at the declaration’s recommendations combined with its definition of antisemitism, one thing becomes clear: In the declaration, numerous lawmakers of the Western world called on world governments to restrict political dissent.

Specifically, they called on governments to outlaw certain forms of criticism of Israel, including calls to boycott Israel; to regulate criticism of Israel in the media; to monitor criticism of Israel online and elsewhere; and to prosecute critics of Israel under “hate crimes” legislation.

Among numerous other demands, the lawmakers declared that governments:

  • “must expand the use of the EUMC [Monitoring Centre] ‘Working Definition of antisemitism’” including “as a basis for training material for use by Criminal Justice Agencies;”
  • should “isolate political actors” who “target the State of Israel;”
  • “should legislate ‘incitement to hatred’ offences and empower law enforcement agencies to convict;”
  • “should … establish inquiry scrutiny panels;”
  • “should utilise the EUMC [Monitoring Centre] ‘Working Definition of antisemitism’ to inform media standards;”
  • “should take appropriate and necessary action to prevent the broadcast of antisemitic programmes on satellite television channels, and to apply pressure on the host broadcast nation to take action to prevent the transmission of antisemitic programmes” (keeping in mind here that the declaration’s definition of “antisemitic” includes various criticism of Israel);
  • “should use domestic ‘hate crime’, ‘incitement to hatred’ and other legislation … to prosecute ‘Hate on the Internet’ where racist and antisemitic content is hosted, published and written” (again keeping in mind what is defined as “antisemitic”);
  • and that “education authorities should … protect students and staff from illegal antisemitic discourse and a hostile environment in whatever form it takes including calls for boycotts.”

In 2015 the European Commission created a special position to coordinate work on combating antisemitism and appointed German national Katharina von Schnurbein to the post. Schnurbein proceeded to promote the use of the Israel-centric definition.[8]

UK and Austria Adopt Definition

 In December 2016, the UK announced it would formally adopt the Israel-centric definition. It was quickly followed by Austria, which adopted the definition in April 2017. The Austrian justice minister had previously announced that the new definition would be used in the training of new judges and prosecutors.

British Prime Minister Theresa May announced the adoption of the Israel-centric definition at a Conservative Friends of Israel event.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May made the announcement during a talk before 800 guests at the Conservative Friends of Israel’s annual lunch.

UPI reported: “The British police are already using this definition[9], which can now also be used by other groups, such as municipal councils and universities. The definition is not a law, but provides a formal interpretation of an illegal act that can serve as a guideline for criminal proceedings.” Shortly afterward the UK’s higher education minister sent a letter informing universities that the government had adopted the IHRA definition and directing them to utilize it.

(The London council quickly followed suit with its own adoption of the definition, and other cities have now done the same. In May the Israel-Britain Alliance (IBA) began asking candidates for Parliament to sign a pledge that they would support the new definition.)

A number of groups objected to the definition, arguing that the definition “deliberately equates criticism of Israel with hatred of Jews.”

Opponents said it was “vigorously promoted by pro-Israel lobbyists to local authorities, universities, Labour movement organisations and other public bodies.”

They stated that after its adoption there had been “an increase in bannings and restrictions imposed on pro-Palestinian activities, especially on campuses.” Some of the cancellations cited the IHRA definition. Oxford Professor Stephen Sedley wrote in the London Review of Books that the IHRA definition gives “respectability and encouragement to forms of intolerance which are themselves contrary to law.”

Professor Jonathan Rosenhead, recipient of the President’s Medal of the British Operational Research Society and Chair of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine, said there were many examples of the definition creating a “chilling effect” on institutions’ willingness to permit lawful political activity, “even when the definition was not specifically cited.”

AJC’s Rabbi Andrew “Andy” Baker helped create and disseminate the new definition throughout Europe, Eurasia, the U.S., and Canada.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which represents all of Europe, Eurasia, the U.S., and Canada — a billion people — was also pushed to adopt the definition at its December 2016 conference.

The American Jewish Committee, which has offices in Berlin, Brussels, Paris, Rome, and Warsaw, reported that it had “met with senior European government officials to encourage OSCE adoption of the definition.” However, adoption of the definition has so far been blocked by one member: Russia.

AJC leader Rabbi Andrew Baker wrote that the AJC would now work “to foster its greater use by the individual states of the OSCE and members of the European Union.”

Inter-Parliamentary Coalition’s American Representatives

Two American Congressmen are among the six-member steering committee of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (CCA).

One is Florida Congressman Ted Deutch. Deutch’s Congressional website highlights his support for Israel as well as his work against antisemitism.

Florida Congressman Ted Deutch has pushed the use of the Israel-centric definition to curtail academic freedom and campus political dissent within the United States. Deutch’s website declares him “a passionate supporter of Israel whose advocacy for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship stretches back to his youth.”

According to the site, Deutch “works closely with his colleagues in the House and Senate to… pass resolutions strongly opposing manifestations of anti-Semitism at home in South Florida, across the United States, and around the world.”

Florida Congressman Ted DeutchThe website reports: “Congressman Ted Deutch is a passionate supporter of Israel whose advocacy for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship stretches back to his youth. Ted spent his summers at Zionist summer camp, worked as a student activist in high school and college, and served in leadership roles on several local and national Jewish organizations throughout his professional career. Today, Ted serves as Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s influential Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, where he continues to champion Israel’s security during a time of great volatility in the Middle East.”

Deutch is also a member of the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats. His ICCA bio announces that he plans to use this position “to continue to publicly condemn anti-Semitism.”

Deutch receives considerable funding from the pro-Israel lobby.

In March Deutch led a bipartisan letter to Trump “Urging Forceful Action on Anti-Semitism.” It demanded ‘a comprehensive, inter-agency strategy that called for the Justice Department to investigate “anti-Semitic crimes” and “ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice.”

Deutch was one of two Congresspeople who introduced the December law to apply the State Department definition to education.

New Jersey Congressman Chris Smith, member of the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition, brought Sharansky to testify before Congress about his new definition.

The other U.S. Congressman on the steering committee of the ICCA is Republican Chris Smith of New Jersey. Smith is also a senior member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. According to the website Open Secrets, a large proportion of his campaign donations are also from pro-Israel sources.

Natan Sharansky twice testified at hearings Smith chaired. In a speech at an event honoring Smith for his work against antisemitism, Smith remembered that Sharansky had  “proposed what he called a simple test to help us distinguish legitimate criticism of Israel from anti-Semitism. He called it the three Ds: Demonization, double standard, and de-legitimization.”

Spreading the New Definition Under Cover of “Anti-Racism” Movement

UK universities have seen repression of pro-Palestinian activism on an epic scale. In 2007 the UK’s National Union of Students (NUS) adopted the new antisemitism definition at its national conference, when pro-Israel students introduced a motion entitled “AntiRacism: Challenging Racism on Campus and in Our Communities.” Some student unions at various UK universities then did the same.

This was a particularly ironic name for a pro-Israel motion, given that many people around the world consider Israel’s founding ideology, political Zionism, racist. In fact, in 1975 the UN General Assembly specifically passed a resolution that “Zionism is a form of racism.”

(The resolution was revoked In 1991, but not because the world body had changed its mind. In that year President Bush was pushing for the Madrid Peace Conference, which he hoped would end the “Arab-Israeli” conflict. When Israel said it would only participate in the conference if the UN revoked the resolution, the U.S. pressured member states to do just this.)

Through the years numerous entities have affirmed that Zionism is a type of racism, including conferences in South Africa and a recent UN commission which reported that Israel was practicing apartheid. (This report was then removed by the UN Director General, after Israeli and U.S. pressure.)

The UK student actions exemplify a trend that has pervaded this movement since the beginning: Efforts to shut down pro-Palestinian activism, curtail free speech and police thought both online and off are repeatedly packaged as “anti-racism” and sometimes “anti-fascism.”[10]

Campaign for New Definition Overcomes Hiccups

Taken together, these steps towards redefining “antisemitism” to include criticism of Israel, and then ban it, are effectively (and increasingly rapidly) producing significant results in terms of actual regulation and even law enforcement. Nevertheless, there apparently has been some resistance to the change.

In 2013, the successor organization to the European Monitoring Centre (called the European Fundamental Rights Agency) quietly dropped the working definition from its website. Without any public announcement, the definition was simply no longer on its site. When questioned about this, the agency’s director simply said that the organization had “no mandate to develop its own definitions.”

Proponents of the definition were outraged. Shimon Samuels of the Simon Wiesenthal Center complained that the agency’s “disowning of its own definition is astounding” and that “those who fight antisemitism have lost an important weapon.” (The Wiesenthal Center is a global organization that declares it “stands with Israel” with offices in Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, Miami, Chicago, Paris, Buenos Aires, and Jerusalem.)

However, the fact that the Monitoring Centre had never officially adopted the definition, and that its successor organization now had apparently discarded it, seems to have been ignored by those who had adopted it.

The U.S. State Department continues to use the discarded version. The only difference is that the PDF that gave its Monitoring Centre origins has been removed from State’s website.

The World Jewish Congress convention 2014, chaired by David de Rothschild, urged “all countries to adopt a binding definition of anti-Semitic crimes” based on the Israel-centric definition.

The following year, the World Jewish Congress, which represents Jewish umbrella bodies in 100 countries, called on “all countries to adopt a binding definition of anti-Semitic crimes based on the Working Definition of Anti-Semitism developed by the former European Union Monitoring Commission (EUMC) and used in a number of states’ law enforcement agencies.”

IHRA Picks Up the Ball

Other groups stepped into the vacuum and kept the definition alive. In 2016 The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) adopted the definition.

The IHRA consists of 31 Member Countries, ten Observer Countries, and seven international partner organizations. Its chair announced that the IHRA’s goal was to inspire “other international fora” to also adopt “a legally binding working definition.” It’s working: Britain and Austria almost immediately followed suit.

The U.S. Brandeis Center applauded the move, saying that “because the IHRA has adopted it, the definition has now officially been given the international status that it was previously lacking.”

The Brandeis Center reported that this was the “culmination of a process initiated by Mark Weitzman, Director of Government Affairs at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, two years ago, with help from others including Ira Forman and Nicholas Dean of the U.S. Department of State.”

Ira Forman, antisemitism envoy under Obama and formerly of AIPAC, played a pivotal role in the IHRA adoption of the new definition.

Forman was the State Department Special Anti-Semitism Envoy under Obama, reportedly led Obama’s reelection campaign in the Jewish community, had worked for Bill Clinton, and had served as Political Director and Legislative Liaison for AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobbying organization. Nicholas Dean had been the State Department Special Envoy for the Holocaust.

The New York Jewish Week reported that Forman and Dean “played a pivotal role in diplomatic efforts that led to the recent adoption by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance of a Working Definition of Anti-Semitism.”

“This is the first-ever formal international definition of anti-Semitism, and a potentially crucial tool for forcing governments and international agencies to confront and take action against it,” the article continued.

Pressure On State Department to Continue Extra Monitoring

Among much budget slashing proposed by President Donald Trump were cuts to the State Department that would have ended funding for the antisemitism monitoring office and special envoy (though State Department monitoring of antisemitism would continue even after the cuts).

Various organizations are lobbying to keep the office and envoy, including the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a U.S. organization whose mission is to “stop the defamation of the Jewish people” but which in effect seems to serve as an American extension of the most right-wing elements of Israel’s government. It has a long and infamous history of attacking critics of Israeli policy as “antisemites” and also uses an Israel-centric definition of antisemitism.

The ADL and allies pointed to a rash of bomb threats against Jewish institutions to strengthen their argument that this exceptional office must be funded. A letter with over a hundred signatories was sent to Trump demanding that he keep the dedicated State Department position, a bipartisan letter in support of retaining that special monitor was circulated in Congress, and over 100 Holocaust memorial groups and scholars urged Trump to keep the office.

As this political fight has raged, the ADL, which has a budget of over $56 million, sent out press releases to national and local media around the country reporting that antisemitic incidents have soared. The release was repeated almost verbatim in numerous national media and in individual states (as a random example, a Massachusetts headline declared: “Report: Anti-Semitism on the rise in Massachusetts.”)

However, it is impossible to know how many of the antisemitic incidents reported by the ADL were actually related to criticism of Israel, because the ADL didn’t release the data on which these results were based.

Israeli man arrested for over 2,000 bomb threats.

In addition, the ADL’s reported spike includes a spate of threats called in to Jewish organizations, schools and community centers that, thankfully, were hoaxes. The vast majority of threats (reportedly to over 2,000 institutions) apparently were perpetrated by an 18-year-old Jewish Israeli who reportedly suffers from medical and mental problems. (This alleged perpetrator is also accused of trying to extort a US Senator, threatening the children of a US official, and a range of other crimes.)

Another individual, an American in the U.S., apparently perpetrated eight hoax bomb threats in a bizarre campaign to get his former girlfriend in trouble.

A Jewish News Service article says the threats by the Israeli teen made up a significant percentage of the ADL’s spike and reported: “The Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) decision to count an Israeli teenager’s alleged recent bomb hoaxes as ‘anti-Semitic incidents’ is prompting criticism from some Jewish community officials.”

An ADL official admitted that the audit is an approximation, saying “the science on it is currently being written.” A regional ADL director said that “this is not a poll or a scientific study,” but rather “an effort to get a sense of ‘what’s going on in people’s hearts.’”

Regarding hard data, the report said that anti-Semitic assaults across the nation had “decreased by about 36 percent.”

The ADL blames various groups for antisemitism, pointing the finger at people of color with claims that Hispanic Americans and African Americans are “the most anti-Semitic cohorts,” at “white supremacists” and at Trump’s election — but not at the Israeli teen responsible for 2,000+ hoax threats that terrorized Jewish institutions, nor at its own distorted, Israel-connected definition.[11]

Claims of increased antisemitism are cited repeatedly in calls for the U.S. government to maintain funding for the special State Department monitoring.

Former US Ambassador to UN Samantha Power tweeted that the entire Trump administration should focus on antisemitism.

Former Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power and two Democratic congressional representatives, Reps. Nita Lowey of New York and Deutch of Florida, are among those demanding that Trump appoint a new antisemitism monitor and maintain this office at full strength, even while he cuts other federal spending.

Power tweeted: “Anti-semitism is surging in world. Entire Trump admin needs to focus on it & envoy position must be kept.”

Lowey demanded: “The president must show he takes the rise of anti-Semitism seriously by immediately appointing a special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism and fully staffing the Special Envoy’s office.”

In a May 2017 speech, World Jewish Congress leader Ronald Lauder said, “Being anti-Israel is being anti-Semitic.” He announced that the congress “is creating a new communications department, or what you might call Hasborah” to counter this new “antisemitism.”

Dissenting Views

Many Jewish writers and activists dispute Lauder’s contention and oppose the campaign to conflate antisemitism with criticism of Israel. An article in Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper points out that “were anti-Zionism a cover for the abuse of individual Jews, individual Jews would not join anti-Zionist groups. Yet many do. Jewish students are well represented in anti-Zionist groups like Students for Justice in Palestine.”

Rabbi Ahron Cohen of Naturei Kartei (“Guardians of the Faith”) writes that “Judaism and Zionism are incompatible and mutually exclusive.” Cohen states that antisemitism is “an illogical bigotry. Anti-Zionism, however, is a perfectly logical opposition, based on very sound reasoning, to a particular idea and aim.”

Cohen argues: “According to the Torah and Jewish faith, the present Palestinian Arab claim to rule in Palestine is right and just. The Zionist claim is wrong and criminal. Our attitude to Israel is that the whole concept is flawed and illegitimate. So anti-Zionism is certainly not anti-Semitism.”

 Antisemitism?

Recently Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper published a column entitled, “An Israeli Soldier Shot a Palestinian in Front of Her Kids. Where’s Her Compensation?”

The article, by Israeli journalist Gideon Levy, begins: “For three months, Dia Mansur was certain his mother was dead. He was 15 years old when he saw her collapse in the living room of their home, felled by a bullet fired by an Israel Defense Forces soldier that sliced into her face, tearing it apart. He saw his mother lying on the floor, blood oozing from her mouth…”

Gaza, 2014. Israel’s invasions and shelling of Gaza killed and injured thousands of children and left multitudes homeless.

Levy, citing a report by an Israeli human rights organization, writes that from September 2000 to through February 2017, “Israel killed 4,868 noncombatant Palestinian civilians, more than one-third of them (1,793) were children and adolescents below the age of 18.” (More info here.)

He continued: “Thousands of others, who were also not involved in fighting, have been wounded and permanently incapacitated.” (Photos here.)

Shifa Hospital, Gaza, 2014

A few weeks before that report, Ha’aretz published an article that described Israel’s month-long imprisonment of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy, one of over 200 Palestinian children taken by Israeli forces in a little over three months. The boy, accused of throwing stones against Israeli soldiers, would have been released from incarceration earlier, except that his impoverished family didn’t have enough money to pay the fine.

In the article, Israeli journalist Amira Haas reported that the boy’s father said that his son “wasn’t how he used to be before he was arrested.” “He used to joke,” the father said, “and he stopped doing that. He talked a lot, and now he is silent.”

Haas wrote that UNICEF had issued a report four years ago that Israel was “extensively and systematically abusing detained Palestinian children and youth.” Today, she reported, “The stories of physical violence, threats, painful plastic handcuffs and naked body searches remain almost identical.”

Sadly, every week there are similar stories.

Israeli soldiers arrest Palestinian boy in West Bank town of Hebron, June 20, 2014. “Human Rights Watch on Monday accused Israel of ‘abusive arrests’ of Palestinian children as young as 11 and of using threats to force them to sign confessions.” – AFP

To the multi-billion dollar network of lobbies advocating for conflating criticism of Israel with antisemitism, those who work to get such information to the American people – whose government gives Israel $10 million per day – are antisemitic.

Many others of all faiths and ethnicities have a different view.

Sixteen years ago I wrote: “Equating the wrongdoing of Israel with Jewishness is the deepest and most insidious form of anti-Semitism of all.”

It is ironic that it is the Israel lobby that is today doing this equating, and that it has worked to invert the very meaning of antisemitism itself. Rather than denoting only abhorrent behavior, as it once did, today the term is often officially applied to what many consider courageous actions against oppression.

More troubling, still, these lobbying groups are working to outlaw conduct that numerous people (including many Israelis and Jewish Americans) consider morally obligatory.

It seems imperative for Americans who wish for justice and peace in the Middle East, and who oppose Orwellian distortions of language and law, to speak out against this campaign – while we can.

#

N.B. I deeply hope that no one will exaggerate or misrepresent the information this article reveals. The actions above were taken by specific individuals and organizations. They alone are responsible for them, not an entire religious or ethnic group, most of whom quite likely have little idea that this is occurring.


Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew, president of the Council for the National Interest, and author of Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel


Timeline for creating new Israel-centric definition of antisemitism

Following is a timeline of some of the key events in the creation, promotion and adoption of the Israel-focused definition of antisemitism. It provides an outline, but does not include every step of the process, all the key players, or every action.

1991 – Jean Kahn is elected president of the European Jewish Congress at its plenary session in Israel. He announces an ambitious agenda, including demonstrating solidarity with Israel and European countries coordinating legislation to outlaw antisemitism.

1997 – Kahn “convinces 15 heads of state” to create the The European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia to focus on “racism, xenophobia and antisemitism.”

2000 – The Monitoring Centre issues a position paper calling for the definition of antisemitic offenses to be “improved.”

2003 – Israel’s minister for diaspora affairs Natan Sharansky founds the Global Forum against Anti-Semitism, stating: “The State of Israel has decided to take the gloves off and implement a coordinated counteroffensive against anti-Semitism.”

2004 – Sharansky, who is also chair of the Jewish Agency for Israel, issues a position paper that lays out the “3-D Test of Anti-Semitism:” statements that “demonize” Israel, apply a “double standard” or “delegitimize” Israel are “antisemitic.” These will form the blueprint for new definitions adopted by lobbying organizations and finally governments.

2004 – US Congress passes law establishing special office and envoy in the State Department to monitor antisemitism that includes statements about Israel under this rubric. (Sharansky is witness at Congressional hearing.)

2004 – American Jewish Committee directors Kenneth Stern and Rabbi Andrew “ Andy” Baker work with Israeli professor Dina Porat to draft a new antisemitism definition and push the Monitoring Centre to adopt it, according to Stern. Their draft drew on Sharansky’s 3 D’s.

2005 – Monitoring Centre issues a “Working Definition of Anti-Semitism” that includes Sharansky’s 3 D’s, based on Stern et al’s draft. While standard dictionary definitions of antisemitism didn’t even mention Israel, fully half of the newly devised Monitoring Centre definition referred to Israel.

2007UK’s National Union of Students (NUS) adopts the new antisemitism definition focused on Israel, after pro-Israel students introduce a motion misleadingly entitled “AntiRacism: Challenging Racism on Campus and in Our Communities.” Some student unions at various UK universities then follow suit.

2008 – The first U.S. State Department Special Envoy on antisemitism, Greg Rickman, endorses the Monitoring Centre working definition in State Department report to Congress. (Rickman later went to work for AIPAC.)

2009 – The Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (CCA), which brings together parliamentarians from around the world, issues the London Declaration signed by then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and others. The Declaration calls on governments to use the Monitoring Centre definition and to outlaw and prosecute such “antisemitism.” US Congressmen Ted Deutch and Chris Smith are members of the CCA’s steering committee.

2010 – Second US State Department Special Envoy on antisemitism Hanna Rosenthal officially adopts European Monitoring Centre definition; this is subsequently referred to as the State Department definition of antisemitism. Rosenthal creates course on antisemitism using this definition to train Foreign Service Officers.

2012Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under the Law is founded and immediately begins promoting the new definition. Within a year it launches an initiative to establish student chapters at law schools throughout the U.S.

2013 – Successor organization to the European Monitoring Centre (called the European Fundamental Rights Agency) quietly drops the working definition from its website. When questioned about this, the agency’s director says the organization had “no mandate to develop its own definitions.” (Groups using the definition continue to use it.)

2014 – Mark Weitzman, Director of Government Affairs at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, with help from Ira Forman and Nicholas Dean of the U.S. Department of State, initiates efforts for another agency to adopt and promote the working definition of antisemitism.

2015 – European Commission creates a special position to coordinate work on combating antisemitism, appointing German Katharina von Schnurbein to the post. Schnurbein proceeds to promote use of the Israel-centric definition. 

2015 – Indiana University passes resolution denouncing “anti-Semitism as defined by the United States State Department and will not fund or participate in activities that promote anti-Semitism or that ‘undermine the right of the Jewish people to self-determination.’” University of California Santa Barbara and UCLA also pass such resolutions.

2016 – The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), consisting of 31 Member Countries, adopts the definition; the goal is to inspire others to also adopt “a legally binding working definition.” An analyst writes that the IHRA action is “a potentially crucial tool for forcing governments and international agencies to confront and take action.”

December 2016 – U.S. Senate passes law to apply the State Department’s definition of antisemitism to the Education Department, for use in investigating reports of religiously motivated campus crimes. Now the law defines actions connected to criticism of Israel as “religiously motivated.”

December 2016 – UK announces it will formally adopt the Israel-centric definition–the first country to do so besides Israel. UK Prime Minister Theresa May made the announcement during a talk before 800 guests at the Conservative Friends of Israel’s annual lunch.

December 2016 – Adoption of the definition by the 57-member Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which had been heavily lobbied by the American Jewish Committee, is blocked by Russia. The AJC then says it will push for individual member states to adopt it.

March 2017 South Carolina House of Representatives passes legislation under which the State Department’s definition “would be used in probes of possible anti-Semitism at state colleges and universities.” The Senate version will be discussed in 2018. Similar bills are being considered in Virginia and Tennessee.

March – May 2017 – Resolutions adopting the Israel-centric definitions are passed by student governments at Ohio’s Capital University and Kent State, California’s San Diego State University and at other campuses around the U.S.

April 2017

  • Austria adopts the definition. (The Austrian justice minister previously announced that the new definition would be used in the training of new judges and prosecutors.)
  • The ADL, which uses Israel-centric definition of antisemitism, announces that antisemitism has risen by 86 percent in 2017, but includes questionable statistics. News organizations throughout the U.S. report the ADL claim.
  • Reports that Trump administration budget cuts might cause special antisemitism envoy position to remain vacant provokes outrage among Israel lobby groups and others. Samantha Power calls for entire Trump administration to focus on antisemitism. Soon, Trump administration says it will fill post.
  • All 100 US Senators send a letter to UN demanding it stop its actions on Israel and connects these to antisemitism.

May 2017 –

  • Israel-Britain Alliance begins asking candidates for Parliament to sign a pledge that they will support the new definition.

End Notes

[1] I’m using the newer, unhyphenated spelling of this word, which seems to be growing in popularity. I feel it is a more appropriate spelling, since the hyphenated version suggests that it refers to all Semites, which is incorrect. The word was created in 1879 specifically to refer to anti-Jewish prejudice.

[2] Former Israeli parliament member Shulamit Aloni explained this in a 2002 interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy now. “It’s a trick. ” she said. “We always use it. When from Europe somebody is criticizing Israel, then we bring up the Holocaust. When in this country people are criticizing Israel, then they are ‘anti-Semitic’.

Aloni noted that the pro-Israel lobby in the United States “is strong, and has a lot of money.” She continued: “Ties between Israel and the American Jewish establishment are very strong … their attitude is ‘Israel, my country right or wrong.’”

“It’s very easy,” she said, “to blame people who criticize certain acts of the Israeli government as ‘anti-Semitic’ and use that claim to justify everything Israel does to the Palestinians.”

Examples abound of critics of Israel silenced in this way. One telling story is that of once-famous journalist Dorothy Thompson, who was virtually erased from history after writing about the Palestinian cause. Read about her here and here.

[3] Dictionaries all agreed on this meaning, with one exception that caused considerable outrage. This was Merriam-Webster’s mammoth unabridged dictionary, which included a second meaning: “opposition to Zionism: sympathy with opponents of the state of Israel.”

When some people discovered this extra, Israel-related meaning in 2004 and raised objections to it, there was a general outcry that the additional meaning was inaccurate and should be removed, including by New York Times columnist and linguistics arbiter Jeffrey Nunberg, who wrote that it “couldn’t be defended.”

Merriam-Webster responded by saying that the extra meaning would “probably be dropped when the company published a new unabridged version in a decade or so.” The company hasn’t published a new version yet, but it seems to have followed through with this decision. The online version of the unabridged dictionary, which says it is updated with the latest words and meanings, makes no mention of Israel or Zionism.

[4] An increasingly common Israeli talking point is the claim that it’s antisemitic to deny the Jewish people their “right to self-determination.” This is disingenuous: Self-determination is the right of people on a land to determine their own political status, not the right of some people to expel others in order to form an exclusive state on confiscated land. In reality, the principle of self-determination would have had the Muslim, Christian and Jewish residents of historic Palestine forming a government for all of them, and today would give Palestinians living under Israeli occupation the freedom to determine their own destiny.

[5] Michael Whine, Jeremy Jones, Israeli Roni Stauber, Felice Gaer, Israeli Yehuda Bauer, Michael Berenbaum and Andy Baker, and later on, AJC’s Deidre Berger, previously an NPR reporter.

[6] The other witnesses were representatives of the Orthodox Union of Jewish Congregations, American Jewish Committee, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, Anti-Defamation League, National Conference for Soviet Jewry, B’nai B’rith International, World Jewish Congress, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Shai Franklin, and Jay Lefkowitz of Kirkland & Ellis, LLP.

[7] An organization called Students Supporting Israel (SSI) takes credit for most of these initiatives. Created in 2012 at the University of Minnesota by Israeli Ilan Sinelnikov and his sister, Valeria Chazin, SSI now has chapters on over 40 college campuses around the U.S., at least three high schools, and some campuses in Canada. In 2015 Israel’s Midwest Consulate chose SSI to receive the award for “Outstanding Pro Israel Activism.” Campus Hillels are also frequently involved.

The bill at Chapman University passed but was vetoed. Another vote will probably be proposed in in the fall.

[8] For information on additional Israel-centered campaigns, see the works of Israeli strategist Yehezkel Dror, such as his paper “Foundations of an Israeli Grand Strategy toward the European Union

[9] The AJC’s Andy Baker reported: “It is part of police-training materials in the UK.”

[10] An antifa group in France, for example, reportedly shut down a talk by an anti-Zionist intellectual.

[11] A number of analysts have also suggested that some antisemitism may at times be an (inappropriate) response to Israeli violence and oppression of Palestinians. Yale Chaplain Bruce Shipman pointed out in a letter to the New York Times that an earlier period of reported rising antisemitism in Europe paralleled “the carnage in Gaza over the last five years, not to mention the perpetually stalled peace talks and the continuing occupation of the West Bank.” Israel partisans were outraged and Shipman was soon required to resign.

May 18, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

NATO is making up Russian threat to justify its own existence – former French intel chief

RT | May 16, 2017

NATO became obsolete after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the bloc is purposefully representing Russia as a security threat to justify its own existence, Yves Bonnet, former head of French counter-intelligence, told RT.

The Russians “are no longer ‘villains,’ the Soviet threat has vanished – primarily because the USSR doesn’t exist anymore,” Bonnet said.

The claims of Moscow’s aggressive behavior coming from the US-led military bloc’s officials are “exaggerated,” the former head of Directorate of Territorial Surveillance, or DST as its French abbreviation goes, which was dissolved in 2008, added.

“I believe that NATO intentionally fuels the perception of Russia as a threat… Like any organization, the North Atlantic Alliance wants to continue existing and the only reason for prolonging its existence is you… the Russians,” he said.

Picturing Russia as in international menace “doesn’t work anymore. I can assure you that the French people, fortunately, no longer believe it,” Bonnet added.

The former intelligence chief told French-language media outlet RT en Français that he was “very sad that France has again joined NATO.”

Paris withdrew from NATO in 1966 due to questioning its ability to resist the Soviet Union and developing its own nuclear deterrent, and only returned to the bloc 30 years later.

In the current historic moment, NATO “isn’t a useful organization, but a dangerous one,” Bonnet said, adding that “the North Atlantic Alliance should be disbanded altogether.”

“I saw what NATO did in Yugoslavia [in 1999], waging a war there without an international warrant… Now NATO is invading Afghanistan, although this country isn’t in the North Atlantic,” he said.

The intelligence veteran slammed the bloc’s policies towards Russia, saying that “it makes no sense to make the Russians worry. It’s completely pointless to make [the Russians] nervous. Don’t tease the ‘Russian bear.’”

He also dismissed claims that Russia tried to meddle with the French presidential elections, voiced shortly before the April 23 vote by the candidate of successful candidate Emmanuel Macron.

“I think that it’s exactly the opposite. The Russians didn’t interfere in the French election. But there was an open influence on the presidential campaign from numerous financial interests, both French and international, in particular Israeli, who supported the presidential campaign of Emmanuel Macron,” Bonnet said.

He expressed regret that “for political reasons” Paris is neglecting cooperation with intelligence services of Russia, Syria and other countries that are “directly fighting against terrorism.”

Such international cooperation would be more effective in tackling extremism in France than the emergencies law and other measures currently imposed by the country’s’ authorities, the former intelligence chief said.

May 16, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Twenty Truths about Marine Le Pen

By James Petras :: 05.01.2017

Introduction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emmanuel Macron: Macro Billionaire and Micro Worker Programs

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

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

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

Propaganda, Labels and Lies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deceit, Betrayal and the Left: The ‘Traitor of the Year Award’

By James Petras :: 04.30.2017

Introduction

While the Right faithfully supports the policies and interests of its ruling class supporters, the Left has systematically betrayed their political platform promises and deceived its working class, salaried employees, small business and regional supporters.

Historic reversals have happened in rapid succession by Leftist leaders, including greater oligarch control over the economy, more dictatorial political domination by imperial powers (US,EU), increasing inequalities and poverty, and ‘Leftist’ support for imperial wars.

In some cases leftist leaders have gone beyond their rightist opponents by passing even more extreme reactionary policies upon assuming power.

In this essay, we will identify some of the turncoat leftists: The ‘Champions of Betrayal’.

Secondly we will review their policy reversals and the consequences for their working class and rural supporters.

Thirdly, we will present a case study of the world’s worst ‘Left’ traitor today: Alexis Tsipras, Prime Minister of Greece.

In the final section, we will discuss some of the possible explanations for the trend of political reversals by left leaders.

Turncoat ‘Leftists’ of the Early 21st Century

There are numerous examples of former guerrilla movements, leftist regimes and political leaders who gained mass popular support on the promise of radical structural transformations and who turn around to embrace the interests of their oligarchical and imperial adversaries.

An entire generation of radicals from the 1960’s and ’70’s started on the left and, by the ’80’s and 90’s ended up in ‘centrist’ and rightwing regimes – even becoming collaborators with the extreme right and the CIA.

Former guerrilla fighters, who turned centrist and rightwing, became Cabinet Ministers or Presidents in Uruguay, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and Chile.

El Salvadoran guerrilla commander, Joaquin Villalobos, later collaborated with the CIA and provided ‘advice’ to the ‘death squad’ President of Colombia.

The list of late 20th century traitors is long and dismal. Their policy betrayals have caused great hardship for their mass supporters who suffered socio-economic losses, political repression, arrests, torture, death and a profound distrust toward ‘left’ intellectuals, political leaders and their ‘promises’.

The 21st Century: Starting on the Left and Ending on the Right

The first decade of the 21st century witnessed a revival of left regimes and political parties in Europe and Latin America.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), led by the great peasant leader Manual Marulanda, had 20,000 fighters and millions of supporters. In 1999, it had advanced to the outskirts of the Capital, Bogota. The reality today is a dramatic reversal.

In France, the Socialist Party adopted a left program and elected Francois Hollande as President in 2012. He promised to raise taxes on the rich to 75% in order to finance a massive jobs program. He promised to extend progressive labor legislation and to defend national industries. Today his credibility is near zero.

Throughout Latin America, Leftists were elected to head governments, including Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Uruguay, Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador and El Salvador. With the possible exception of Bolivia and Ecuador, they have been ousted by their rightwing partners or opponents.

In Spain, Portugal and Greece, new radical leftist parties emerged with promises to end the brutal European Union-imposed austerity programs, and launch profound, class-based, structural transformations. Here history is repeating itself with another series of betrayals.

The Revolutionary Armed of Forces of Colombia (FARC): From Revolution to Surrender

By June 2017, the FARC leadership had disarmed its fighters, abandoning millions of peasant supporters in regions formerly under their control. The FARC’s signing of the Peace Pact with the Santos regime led to neither peace nor a real pact. Dozens of activists are already being murdered and hundreds of leftists and peasants are fleeing for their lives from death squads connected to the Santos regime. Assassinations occurred throughout the negotiation process and afterwards. Guerrilla fighters, who turned in their arms, now face kangaroo trials, while peasants who apply for agrarian reform are driven from their farms. Rank and file FARC fighters and militants are abandoned with their families in the jungle without homes, jobs and security from the death squads. US military bases and advisers remain. The entire socio-economic system is unchanged. Only the Cuba-based guerrilla ‘leaders’ are guaranteed security, two comfortable seats in Parliament– which has been denied– and the praise of the US government!

FARC leaders and chief negotiators, Ivan Marquez and Timoleon Jimenez, are clear contenders for the ‘Traitor of the Year Award’.

France’s President Hollande: An Imperial Collaborator Flushed down the Toilet

President Francois Hollande’s tenure was not far behind the FARC’s betrayal. Elected President of France in 2012 under the Socialist Party, he promised to ‘tax the rich’ by 75%, extend and deepen workers’ rights, reduce unemployment, revive bankrupt industries, prevent capitalist flight and end France’s military intervention in Third World countries.

After a brief flirtation with his campaign rhetoric, President Hollande went on a pro-business and militarist rampage against his voters:

First, he deregulated business relations with labor, making it easier and quicker to fire workers.

Second, he reduced business taxes by $40 billion Euros.

Third, he imposed and then extended a draconian state of emergency following a terrorist incident. This included the banning of strikes by workers protesting his anti-labor legislation and the double-digit unemployment rate.

Fourth, Hollande launched or promoted a series of imperial wars in the Middle East and North and Central Africa.

France under Francois Hollande initiated the NATO bombing of Libya, the murder of President Gadhafi, the total destruction of that nation and the uprooting of millions of Libyans and sub-Saharan African workers. This led to a massive flood of terrified refugees across the Mediterranean and into Europe with tens of thousands drowning in the process.

President Holland’s neo-colonial project oversaw the expansion of French troops into Mali (destabilized by the destruction of Libya) and the Central African Republic.

A clear promoter of genocide, Hollande sold arms and sent ‘advisers’ to support Saudi Arabia’s grotesque war against impoverished Yemen.

President Hollande joined the US mercenary invasion of Syria, allowing some of France’s finest nascent jihadis to join in the slaughter. His colonial ambitions have resulted in the flight of millions of refugees into Europe and other regions.

By the end of his term of office in 2017, Holland’s popularity had declined to 4%, the lowest level of electoral approval of any President in French history! The only rational move he undertook in his entire regime was to not seek re-election.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras: ‘Traitor of the Year’

Despite the stiff competition from other infamous leftist traitors around the world, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras wins the ‘Global Traitor of the Year’ award.

Tsipras deserves the label of ‘Global Traitor’ because:

1) He made the quickest and most brutal turn from left to right than any of his venal competitors.

2) He supported Greece’s subjugation to the dictates of the Brussels oligarchs privatization demands, agreeing to sell its entire national patrimony, including its infrastructure, islands, mines, beaches, museums, ports and transports etc.

3) He decreed the sharpest reduction of pensions, salaries and minimum wages in European history, while drastically increasing the cost of health care, hospitalization and drugs. He increased VAT, (consumer taxes) and tax on island imports and farm income while ‘looking the other way’ with rich tax evaders.

4) Tsipras is the only elected leader to convoke a referendum on harsh EU conditions, receive a massive mandate to reject the EU plan and then turn around and betray the Greek voters in less than a week. He even accepted more severe conditions than the original EU demands!

5) Tsipras reversed his promises to oppose EU sanctions against Russia and withdrew Greece’s historic support for the Palestinians. He signed a billion-dollar oil and gas deal with Israel which grabbed oil fields off the Gaza and Lebanon coast. Tsipras refused to oppose the US -EU bombing of Syria, and Libya – both former allies of Greece.

Tsipras, as the leader of the supposedly ‘radical left’ SYRIZA Party, leaped from left to right in the wink of an eye.

The first and most revealing indication of his turn to the right was Tsipras’ support for Greece’s continued membership in the European Union (EU) and NATO during the formation of SYRIZA (2004).

SYRIZA’s ‘left’ mouthed the usual platitudes accompanying EU membership, raising vacuous ‘questions’ and ‘challenges’ while talking of ’struggles’. None of these ‘half pregnant’ phrases made sense to any observer who understood the power of the German-led oligarchs in Brussels and their strict adherence to ruling-class imposed austerity.

Secondly, SYRIZA had played a minor role, at best, in the numerous trade union general strikes and worker and student led direct action in the run-up to its electoral victory in 2015.

SYRIZA is an electoral party of the lower middle and middle class, led by upwardly mobile politicos who had few if any ties to shop-floor factory and agrarian struggles. Their biggest struggles seemed to revolve around internal factional wars over seats in Parliament!

SYRIZA was a loose collection of squabbling groups and factions, including, ‘ecology movements’, Marxist sects and traditional politicos who had floated over from the moribund, and corrupt PanHellenic Socialist Party (PASOK). SYRIZA expanded as a party at the beginning of the 2008 financial crisis when the Greek economy collapsed. From 2004 to 2007 SYRIZA increased its presence in Parliament from 3.5% to only 5%. Its lack of participation in the mass struggles and its internal squabbles led to a decline in the 2009 legislative elections to 4.6% of seats.

Tsipras ensured that SYRIZA would remain in the EU, even as its self-styled ‘left wing’, the Left Platform, led by ‘Marxist academic’ Panagiotis Lafazanis, promised to “keep an open door to leaving the EU”. Alexis Tsipras was first elected to the Athens city council, where he publicly attacked corrupt and demagogic rightwing colleagues while taking private lessons in power from the oligarchy.

In 2010, the rightwing PASOK and far right New Democracy agreed to an EU dictated debt bail-out leading to massive job losses and the slashing of wages and pensions. SYRIZA, while outside of power, denounced the austerity program and gave lip-service to the massive protests. This posturing allowed SYRIZA to quadruple its representation in parliament to 16% in the 2012 election.

Tsipras welcomed corrupt ex-PASOK members and financial advisers into SYRIZA, including Yanis Varoufakis, who spent more time motorcycling to upscale bars than supporting the unemployed workers in the streets.

EU ‘memorandums’ dictated the privatization of the economy, as well as deeper cuts in education and health. These measures were implemented in shock waves from 2010 through 2013. As an opposition party, SYRIZA increased its seats 27% in 2013 … a scant 3% behind the ruling rightwing New Democracy. In September 2014, SYRIZA approved the Thessalonika Program promising to reverse austerity, rebuild and extend the welfare state, restart the economy, defend public enterprises, promote tax justice, uphold democracy (direct democracy no less!) and implement a ‘national plan’ to increase employment.

The entire debate and all the resolutions turned out to be a theatrical farce! Once in power, Tsipras never implemented a single reform promised in the Program. To consolidate his power as head of SYRIZA, Tsipras dissolved all factions and tendencies in the name of a ‘unified party’ – hardly a step toward greater democracy!

Under ‘Dear Uncle Alexis’ control, SYRIZA became an authoritarian electoral machine despite its left posturing. Tsipras insisted that Greece would remain within the EU and approved a ‘balanced budget’ contradicting all his phony campaign promises of public investments to ‘extend the welfare state’!

A new EU bailout was followed by a jump in unemployment to over 50% among youth and 30% of the entire labor force. SYRIZA won the January 25, 2015 parliamentary elections with 36.3% of the electorate. Lacking a single vote to secure a majority in parliament, SYRIZA formed an alliance with the far-right ANEL party, to which Tsipras gave the Defense Ministry.

Immediately upon taking office, Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras announced his plans to renegotiate Greece’s bailout and ‘austerity program’ with the EU oligarchy and the IMF. This phony posturing could not hide his impotence: Since SYRIZA was committed to staying in the EU, austerity would continue and another onerous ‘bailout’ would follow. During ‘internal meetings’, members of SYRIZA’s ‘Left Platform’ in the Cabinet called for leaving the EU, reneging the debt and forging closer ties with Russia. Despite being totally ignored and isolated, they stayed on as impotent ‘token leftist’ Cabinet Ministers.

With Tsipras now free to impose neo-liberal market policies, billions of Euros flowed out of Greece and its own banks and businesses remained in crisis. Both Tsipras and the ‘Left Platform’ refused to mobilize SYRIZA’s mass base, which had voted for action and demanded an end to austerity. The media’s gadfly, Finance Minister Varoufakis, put on a sideshow with grand theatrical gestures of disapproval. These were openly dismissed by the EU-IMF oligarchy as the antics of an impotent Mediterranean clown.

Superficial as ever, the Canadian, US, European left-wing academics were largely unaware of SYRIZA’s political history, its opportunist composition, electoral demagogy and total absence from real class struggle. They continued to blather about SYRIZA as Greece’s ‘radical left’ government and attended its PR functions. When SYRIZA flagrantly embraced the EU’s most savage cutbacks against Greek workers and their living standards affecting everyday life, the highly paid, distinguished professors finally spoke of SYRIZA’s ‘mistakes’ and ladled the ‘radical left’ from this stew of opportunists! Their grand speaking tours to Greece were over and they flitted off to support other ’struggles’.

As the summer of 2015 approached, Prime Minister Tsipras moved ever closer to the entire EU austerity agenda. ‘Dear Alexis’ dumped Finance Minister Varoufakis, whose histrionics had irked Germany’s Finance Minister. Euclid Tsakalotos , another ‘radical’ leftist, took over as Finance Minister, but turned out to be a malleable lieutenant for Tsipras, willing to implement any and all EU-imposed austerity measures without the antics.

By July 2015, Tsipras and SYRIZA accepted a harsh austerity program dictated by the EU. This rejected SYRIZA’s entire Thessalonika Program proclaimed a year earlier. The entire population, and SYRIZA’s rank and file members grew angrier, demanding an end to austerity. While approving a ‘belt tightening’ austerity program for his electoral mass base throughout the summer of 2015, Tsipras and his family lived in luxury in a villa generously loaned by a Greek plutocrat, far from the soup lines and hovels of the unemployed and destitute.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras implemented policies earning him the ‘Traitor of the Year Award’. His was a duplicitous strategy: On July 5, 2015, he convoked a referendum on whether to accept the EU’s bailout conditions. Thinking his ‘pro-EU’ supporters would vote ‘Yes’, he intended to use the referendum as a mandate to impose new austerity measures. Tsipras misjudged the people: Their vote was an overwhelming repudiation of the harsh austerity program dictated by the oligarchs in Brussels.

Over 61% of the Greek people voted ‘no’ while merely 38%voted in favor of the bailout conditions. This was not limited to Athens: A majority in every region of the country rejected the EU dictates – an unprecedented outcome! Over 3.56 million Greeks demanded an end to austerity. Tsipras was ‘admittedly surprised’ . . . and disappointed! He secretly and stupidly thought the referendum would give him a free hand to impose austerity. He put on his usual grin as the voting results were announced.

Less than a week later, on July 13, Tsipras renounced the results of his own referendum and announced his government’s support for the EU bailout. Perhaps to punish the Greek voters, Tsipras backed an even harsher austerity scheme than the one rejected in his referendum! He drastically slashed public pensions, imposed massive regressive tax hikes and cut public services by $12 billion euros. Tsipras agreed to the infamous ‘Judas memorandum’ of July 2015, which increased the regressive general consumer tax (VAT) to 23%, a 13% food tax, a sharp increase in medical and pharmaceutical costs and tuition fees, and postponed the retirement age by five years to 67.

Tsipras continued on his ‘historic’ rampage over the suffering Greek people throughout 2016 and 2017. His regime privatized over 71,500 public properties, including the historic patrimony. Only the Acropolis was spared the auction block…. for now! The resulting unemployment drove over 300,000 skilled and educated Greeks to migrate. Pensions slashed to 400 Euros led to malnutrition and a three-fold rise in suicides.

Despite these grotesque social consequences the German bankers and the regime of Angela Merkel refused to reduce the debt payments. Prime Minister Tsipras’ groveling had no effect.

Sharp tax hikes on farm fuels and transport to tourist islands led to constant marches and strikes in cities, factories, fields and highways.

By January 2017 Tsipras had lost half of his electorate. He responded with repression: gassing and beating elderly Greeks protesting their poverty pensions. Three-dozen trade unionists, already acquitted by the courts, were re-tried by Tsipras’ prosecutors in a vicious ’show trial’. Tsipras supported the US-NATO attacks on Syria, the sanctions against Russia and the billion-dollar energy and military agreements with Israel.

Short of the Nazi occupation (1941-44) and Anglo-Greek civil war of (1945-49), the Greek people had not experienced such a precipitous decline of their living standards since the Ottomans. This catastrophe occurred under the Tsipras regime, vassal to the Brussels oligarchy.

European, Canadian and US leftist academic tourists had ‘advised’ SYRIZA to remain in the EU. When the disastrous consequences of their ‘policy advice’ became clear… they merely turned to advising other ’struggles’ with their phony ’socialist forums’.

Conclusions

The betrayals by ‘Leftist’ and ‘radical leftist’ leaders are partly due to their common practices as politicians making pragmatic deals in parliament. In other cases, former extra-parliamentary and guerrilla leaders were faced with isolation and pressure from neighboring ‘left’ regimes to submit to imperial ‘peace accords’, as in the case of the FARC. Confronting the massive build-up of the US supplied and advised armies of the oligarchs, they folded and betrayed their mass supporters.

The electoral framework within the EU encouraged leftist collaboration with class enemies – especially German bankers, NATO powers, the US military and the IMF.

From its origins SYRIZA refused to break with the EU and its authoritarian structure. From its first day of government, it accepted even the most demonstrably illegal private and public debts accumulated by the corrupt right-wing PASOK and New Democracy regimes. As a result SYRIZA was reduced to begging.

Early on SYRIZA could have declared its independence, saved its public resources, rejected its predecessors’ illegal debts, invested its savings in new jobs programs, redefined its trade relations, established a national currency and devalued the drachma to make Greece more flexible and competitive. In order to break the chains of vassalage and foreign oligarch imposed austerity, Greece would need to exit the EU, renounce its debt and launch a productive socialist economy based on self-managed co-operatives.

Despite his electoral mandate, the Greek Prime Minister Tsipras followed the destructive path of Soviet leader Michel Gorbachev, betraying his people in order to continue down the blind ally of submission and decay.

While several leaders offer stiff competition for the ‘Traitor of the Year Award’, Alexis Tsipras’ betrayal has been longer, more profound and continues to this day. He broke more promises and reversed more popular mandates (elections and referendums) more quickly than any other traitor. Moreover nothing short of a generation will allow the Greeks to recover left politics. The left has been devastated by the monstrous lies and complicity of Tsipras’ former ‘left critics’.

Greece’s accumulated debt obligations will require at least a century to play out – if the country can even survive. Without question, Alexis Tsipras is the ‘Traitor of the Year’ by unanimous vote!!!

May 1, 2017 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Le Pen’s Pro-Palestinian PM Choice

By Stephen Lendman | April 29, 2017

Ahead of the May 7 French presidential runoff, Marine Le Pen chose defeated Debout la France (Arise France) presidential candidate Nicolas Dupont-Aignan as her prime minister if elected.

He’s ideologically right-wing like herself. With him at a Saturday news conference, she said “(w)e will form a government of national unity that brings together people chosen for their competence and their love of France.”

Both support abandoning the euro, what Dupont-Aignan called a “racket,” and restoring the franc as France’s currency, regaining control over its monetary and fiscal policies from Brussels.

Former UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage called him an “utterly respectable Eurosceptic.” Dupont-Aignan said “I am and remain a free man. I have dared before history to build a government agreement.”

Unlike establishment figures throughout Europe and America, Dupont-Aignan is pro-Palestinian.

In July 2014, during Israeli aggression on Gaza, Dupont-Aignan said the following:

“Gaza: Nicolas Dupont-Aignan deplores the inertia of France in the conflict.

After the bombing, ground fighting and unacceptable collateral damage of the deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians, men, women and children, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict entered last night in a new phase with the invasion of the gang Of Gaza by the Israeli army (with) complicit silence of the UN, the West and France. The disproportion of the forces involved is blatant.

Whatever the responsibilities of the irresponsible leaders of Hamas in the outbreak of this new confrontation, the path chosen by Israel only pushes it into an impasse.

It is not by accumulating the ruins and the dead that Mr. Netanyahu will appease the tensions, passions and hatreds in this region of the world.

In this bloody context, the inertia of France is perfectly scandalous. We expect our government to finally take the initiative for international action to impose Israel’s compliance with UN resolutions, that is, the withdrawal and dismantling of settlements illegally settled in the territories The recognition of the Palestinian state.

It is only under these conditions that we will avoid importing the conflict into our country, and that the new massacre in progress will be stopped.

It is only under these conditions that lasting peace can finally return to the Middle East. Letting aggravate and aggravate an unbearable situation is not only stupid but criminal.”

Fact: On July 8, 2014, Israel launched premeditated aggression on Gaza. Hamas had nothing to do with initiating it – planned by Israel, waged until August 26.

Thousands were killed or wounded. Defenseless civilians were willfully targeted. Entire neighborhoods were destroyed. Entire families were annihilated. Schools, hospitals, mosques and UN shelters were attacked.

So were clinics, ambulances, healthcare workers, journalists and human rights supporters. During the war, Israeli forces rampaged throughout the territories, invading over 3,000 homes, terrorizing families, traumatizing children, making mass arrests, including Palestinian parliamentarians.

Nearly three dozen were lawlessly imprisoned. Israeli aggression went way beyond attacking Hamas.

It was war on Palestine, vicious collective punishment, the highest of high crimes against peace. More Israeli aggression could happen anytime, likely worse than 2014 if launched.

Dupont-Aignan supports Palestinian self-determination. Le Pen said they share a “common project (they’ll) promote together.”

Macron backs continuity, dirty business as usual. Le Pen wants France out of US-dominated NATO and EU membership.

Macron is the choice of the “oligarchy,” she said. She wants French sovereign independence restored – free from control by Washington, Brussels and Berlin.

Stephen Lendman can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His new book is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.

April 29, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | 2 Comments

French “Investigation” in Syria Neither Impartial nor Independent

By Ulson Gunnar – New Eastern Outlook – 28.04.2017

After any crime, regardless of scale, a swift, impartial and independent investigation is required if any accountability at all is desired. The French government, in the wake of an alleged “chemical weapons attack” near Syria’s northern city of Idlib, has claimed that it is “committed to ensuring that the perpetrators of this heinous attack are held accountable.”

The LA Times in an article titled, “Syrian chemical attack bears Assad’s signature, France says,” would report:

A six-page report by French intelligence services claims the nerve agent came from hidden stockpiles of chemical weapons that Damascus was supposed to have destroyed under an U.S.- and Russian-brokered deal in 2013.

Were it the case that France was seriously committed to holding the perpetrators of the alleged attack accountable, the French government would need to call for an impartial, independent investigation into the attack, and as soon as possible. Instead, it decided to carry out its own “investigation,” ensuring neither impartiality nor independence, and by consequence, achieving no accountability.

Neither Impartial nor Independent  

France is one of several nations directly involved in a multi-year US-led effort to violently overthrow the Syrian government.

Terrorist organizations fighting in and along Syria’s borders have, for 6 years now, brandished the black, green, white and red colonial flag of French-occupied Syria.

France itself has admittedly supplied militant groups fighting the Syrian government with financial, military and political support with many prominent members of the so-called residing within French territory, leading political efforts to overthrow the Syrian government remotely.

In a 2014  France 24 article titled, “France delivered arms to Syrian rebels, Hollande confirms,” its revealed that:

President Francois Hollande said on Thursday that France had delivered weapons to rebels battling the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad “a few months ago.”

The deliveries took place “a few months ago, when the Syrian rebels had to face both the armies of the dictator Bashar al-Assad and this terrorist group Islamic State,” Hollande told reporters on a tour of the French island of La Reunion.

“We cannot leave the only Syrians who are preparing a democracy … without weapons,” he added.

And French warplanes are flying over Syria, without a UN resolution or invitation by the Syrian government, bombarding its territory in an alleged effort to wage war on the very militant groups it has flooded with arms, cash and others forms of material support.

A nation directly involved in efforts to violently overthrow a government cannot in any rational way conduct an impartial, independent investigation into the actions of that targeted government.

France, by all legal metrics, is a compromised party with a direct stake in finding the Syrian government “guilty.” The evidence France claims to possess must be verified by an impartial, independent party, but even at face value, French “evidence” appears illogical and intentionally misrepresented amid its most recent claims.

French “Intel” Not Adding Up 

French evidence is based on what French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault himself claims is, “a certain source,” which, in wording alone, resembles the ambiguity and oblique tactics used by the United States in the lead up to the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq. It is also language that would be inadmissible during any genuine legal proceeding.

In 2003, US and European politicians during interviews, press conferences and public speeches relied heavily on alleged evidence produced by similar unnamed sources. It would later be revealed that those sources were intentionally lying, and were intentionally cited in a wider effort to fabricate a false pretext for war with Iraq.

Additionally, France has attempted to implicate the Syrian government in the most recent alleged attack by claiming the same sarin nerve agent was also used in an alleged attack in 2013.

However, were this true, such a claim would require an indisputable conclusion drawn by an impartial, independent investigation that the 2013 attack was indeed carried out by the Syrian government, using not only sarin nerve agent, but the precise variant allegedly used in this most recent attack.

No such conclusion exists, with France failing to produce any of these basic legal or rational prerequisites, going far in explaining why the French foreign minister has resorted to the same ambiguous rhetoric used by US politicians in the lead up to the 2003 Iraq invasion.

Despite this, the French government and those across US, European and Persian Gulf media have attempted to project confidence in this “investigation.” However, should the French government and its allies be so confident in their findings, they would invite a truly impartial, independent party to open up its own investigation, consider and verify this evidence and draw its own, impartial and independent conclusions.

The political capital provided to France and its allies by doing this would be enormous, yet no such investigation is being called for by France, the United States or any of the other parties involved in the protracted, violent dismemberment of the Syrian state. The answer to “why” they would forgo such a politically lucrative move can be explained by a total lack of confidence in their evidence, or certain knowledge that their “evidence” is entirely fabricated, and genuine investigations would only confirm that publicly.

And in fact, the only calls for a truly independent investigation have come from the Syrian government itself as well as from its allies in Moscow and Tehran. It should be noted that these nations were also among those opposed to the US invasion of Iraq based on similarly fabricated claims.

In all, the French “investigation” is nothing of the sort. Had the French government been truly committed to discovering the truth behind the recent alleged chemical weapons attack, it would have recognized its own limits as an impartial, independent investigator and forwarded its “evidence” to a party that is capable of a real investigation. Instead, it has embarked on an intentionally dishonest course of actions to conceal its lack of impartiality and independence, using tenuous if not fabricated claims to further deepen a violent, deadly and supremely costly conflict it itself is a key instigator of.

April 28, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

French ‘Proof’ That Assad Used Sarin in Khan Sheikhoun Turns out to Be Complete BS

Russia-Insider | April 26, 2017

For over a week now France has claimed it has irrefutable evidence that Syrian military used gas against civilians earlier this month and would present it shortly.

It has now done so. It says it has determined that sarin used in the 2017 Khan Sheikhoun attack came from the same stock used in an earlier 2013 attack.

This is it. This is the extent of its super-duper evidence.

Because Paris “knows” the Syrian army used sarin in 2013, which Syria denies and was never proven, France now “knows” Syria also used sarin in 2017.

Anywhere else that would be called circular logic.

If anything, if samples from Khan Sheikhoun match sarin used in 2013 that makes it all the more likely that it came from rebel stock. The same stock they ultimately used to stage the East Ghouta false flag.

April 26, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | 8 Comments

American Entry Into World War One

The Weekly Standard’s Fractured History and the Reality

The Sinking of the Lusitania, 1915 Painting. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Sinking of the Lusitania, 1915 Painting. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
By Stephen J. Sniegoski • Unz Review • April 24, 2017

It was one hundred years ago this month that America entered World War I, which began July 28, 1914.[1] On April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson addressed a joint session of Congress and requested it to declare war on Germany. The Senate would vote in favor of war on April 4 and the House would follow suit on April 6. This essay critiques a recent article in The Weekly Standard by Geoffrey Norman, who has written articles on multiple topics in a number of mainstream journals in addition to neocon ones.[2] His article represents the conventional neocon thinking on World War I and since they have been major players in shaping American foreign policy—especially in the Middle East—Norman’s piece is of significance in understanding their foreign policy Weltanschauung. Moreover, this essay will try to bring out what appear to be the causes of American entry into the war.

For Norman, Germany was the villain in World War I, and largely because of its ruthless nature would have been a serious threat to the United States if it had won the war and expanded its power. He writes that during the German invasion and occupation of Belgium “civilian hostages were rounded up and executed by firing squad as a way to keep the populace terrified and docile. Germany was, from the beginning of the war, the aggressor.” Although British propaganda exaggerated German atrocities in Belgium, historians in recent years have concluded that the invading Germans did kill significant numbers of French and Belgian noncombatants. According to Alan Kramer in the International Encyclopedia of the First World War, “from August to October 1914 the German army intentionally executed 5,521 civilians in Belgium and 906 in France”[3] Kramer goes on to write, however, that “Essentialist claims about unique German ‘barbarism’ would be mistaken. . . . The Russian army committed many acts of violence during the invasion of East Prussia in August/September 1914. Germany denounced the Russians for having devastated thirty-nine towns and 1,900 villages and killed almost 1,500 civilians. Research by Alexander Watson has confirmed these figures, and he concludes that 1,491 German civilians were deliberately killed in executions and individual murders. Given the smaller population of East Prussia (about 1.7 million people in the areas invaded by the Russians) this was directly comparable to the intensity of violence against civilians during the invasion of Belgium in August/September 1914.”[4]

Killing civilians, however, would have nothing to do with determining the aggressor. Historians, however, have differed on the primary culprit for the war and have spread the responsibility to many of the major combatants.[5] Furthermore, it should be stressed that the German killing of Belgians would not come close to equaling the hundreds of thousands of German deaths resulting from the British starvation blockade, which will be discussed next.[6]

The United States had historically claimed its right as a neutral to be able to trade in non-contraband goods with belligerents and with other neutrals. The exact definition of these neutral rights, however, was not universally agreed upon. The United States had traditionally taken an expansive view of its rights as a neutral, which had, in the past, caused it to clash with the European powers, especially during the wars taking place during the era of the French Revolution and Napoleon.

In 1909, an effort had been made to define and codify the existing rules of wartime trade. These rights were incorporated in a legal document developed at the International Naval Conferences in London in 1909, which became known as the Declaration of London. The Declaration contained a number of features that were very favorable to neutrals. It was signed by all major countries that would fight in World War I, but it would only be ratified by the United States. Although Britain played a major role in the Conference, and the House of Commons would ratify the Declaration, the House of Lords rejected it on the grounds that it was unfair to major sea powers. Britain’s rejection dissuaded the other signatories from ratifying.

Nevertheless, shortly after the war began, U.S. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan asked the major belligerents to abide by the Declaration of London. Germany and Austria said that they would conform contingent upon the Entente Powers doing likewise. Britain stated it would observe the requirements of the Declaration, though with certain modifications. Very soon, however, it would reject part and then almost all of restrictions embodied in the Declaration that applied to activities it deemed necessary to prosecute the war. This entailed seizing all goods that were helpful to its enemies, which would ultimately encompass preventing food from reaching the German civilian population. This was an obvious effort to starve the German people into submission–essentially Britain was making war on the civilian population, the prevention of which was a fundamental reason for having rules of warfare. Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty in 1914 and one of the framers of the scheme, admitted that its purpose was to “starve the whole population — men, women, and children, old and young, wounded and sound — into submission.’”[7] Norman even acknowledges this goal as he writes: “The Royal Navy ruled the seas—the surface of them, anyway. And its blockade threatened to starve Germany.” But while he is aghast at German actions that killed many fewer people, the starvation blockade does not engender any negative response from him whatsoever. In his obliviousness to the immorality of the British blockade, Norman is quite similar to Woodrow Wilson. Political scientist Robert W. Tucker points out that despite the Wilson administration’s concern about German activities that caused civilian deaths, “neither Wilson nor his advisors had expressed any qualms over the moral implication of the blockade.”[8]

Many aspects of the British blockade diverged significantly from the traditional interpretation of maritime law. For example, the Declaration of Paris of 1856 (still in force in 1914) held that a blockade to be legal had to be an effective close blockade, which would entail the stationing of a group of ships off an enemy port or coast. Declaring areas of the ocean that were entry ways to the enemy’s coast to be off-limits, as Britain did, failed to constitute a legitimate blockade.[9]

In regard to visiting and searching ships for contraband, which was allowed by international law, the British likewise took a questionable approach. The traditional way was to engage in this activity at sea. The British, instead, took the ships to their ports to search because it required a long time to search large modern ships during which the British warship would be vulnerable to attacks by submarines.[10]

Britain also inhibited neutral trade with Germany (and other neutrals) by applying the doctrine of “continuous voyage,” which meant that it would have the right to interdict goods brought to a neutral port by sea that were intended, in its opinion, to be sent to Germany by land. Heretofore, international law had only applied the concept of “continuous voyage” to a trip that went solely by sea. Furthermore, traditional international law only applied “continuous voyage” rules to absolute contraband—goods whose sole purpose was for warmaking—whereas the British applied these rules to almost every type of good.[11]

Another questionable step taken by Britain was the mining of the North Sea, which was the entry way for ships to reach neutral and German ports. To avoid possible destruction, merchant ships had to stop at a British port where they would get an Admiralty pilot to lead them through the mine fields. While there the ships would be searched and stripped of goods.[12] Although the neutrals, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, protested this practice, the United States refrained from joining them.[13]

The United States did protest many British violations of America’s neutral rights. Sometimes the British would yield on relatively insignificant points. And the British would compensate Americans for some losses. However, the United States never warned the British that their failure to comply with American demands would have drastic consequences. And ultimately the United States would tacitly acquiesce to the British position, which was often far different from what had traditionally been considered legitimate and what the United States had demanded in the past regarding its neutral rights.

Legal scholars Edwin Borchard and William Potter Lage point out that the U.S. made it known as early as December 1914 that it would give Britain wide latitude in determining its maritime policy. A U.S. note protesting the British violations of international law stated: “that the commerce between countries which are not belligerents should not be interfered with by those at war unless such interference is manifestly an imperative necessity to protect their national safety, and then only to the extent that it is a necessity.” Obviously, Britain could argue that everything it did during the war was absolutely necessary for its safety.[14]

It was the issue of German submarines that ultimately brought the U.S. into the war. Norman does little to explain why Germany would have to rely heavily on the submarine and simply looks upon its use as a justification for the U.S. entering the war. For example, he writes with some astonishment that “neutrality was the Wilson cause, even after a German submarine torpedoed the liner Lusitania on May 7, 1915. The ship sank in 18 minutes, and of the 1,198 passengers who drowned, 128 were Americans.” But it is not self-evident why the United States would consider such an attack as a justification for war. The ocean liner was a British ship; German submarines did not sink American ships. The German embassy had placed a warning in a New York newspaper that the Lusitania would be traveling into a war zone and was liable to be attacked by a German submarine. Unbeknownst to the passengers, the ship was carrying war munitions, a charge made by Germany that the British government did not fully acknowledge until 2014.[15]

Wilson considered the taking of lives by submarines as abhorrent, and thus put their use on a totally different level from the maritime violations by the British surface navy. Tucker quotes Wilson’s reference to this issue in his war address in 1917: “’Property can be paid for’, Wilson declared, ’the lives of peaceful innocent people cannot be.’”[16] Most Americans agreed that killing civilians was inhumane. As mentioned earlier, however, Wilson’s distinction did not actually apply since the British starvation blockade violated traditional international law by starving German non-combatants. Sinkings by submarines, however, understandably received more media attention than the slow deaths from starvation and this was heightened by the pro-British bias in most of the media.[17]

Making the submarine issue especially explosive was Wilson’s firm defense of the neutral right of American citizens to travel unmolested on Allied merchant ships. Tucker points out that this was the “only issue of diplomatic consequence to arise between Germany and the United States, it led America to the point of war with Germany.”[18]

It is not self-evident why Wilson, if he truly sought to avoid war, held that American citizens should have the right to travel unmolested on belligerent merchant ships when they could travel in safety on U.S. ships. Germany even offered to extend this safety to neutral and perhaps even a few belligerent liners that flew the American flag.[19] Certainly this met the needs of American travelers, but Wilson would not accept it because it violated principle—that is, the right of neutrals to travel on belligerent merchant ships, even armed belligerent merchant ships.

Wilson’s inflexibility on this issue is hard to justify since he was willing to alter other traditional maritime strictures to propitiate Britain, and the submarine was a new weapon for which the maritime rules had not been developed. Given the nature of the submarine (which will be discussed shortly), the logic of Wilson’s approach would essentially preclude German submarines from attacking a non-military British ship because there might be Americans aboard. It should be pointed out that American lives would also have been lost, if ships with Americans aboard had attempted to traverse the North Sea mine fields without first stopping at a British port.

Not having a surface navy comparable to that of Britain, Germany had to rely on submarines if it were to have any military impact at sea. Wilson demanded that the German submarines adhere to the traditional rules of cruiser warfare that would require a submarine to surface and fire a warning shot before searching the enemy merchant ship, or attacking it, if it tried to flee. Furthermore, before launching a torpedo, the submarine was expected to provide for the safety of the crew and any passengers. The submarines of the day were quite fragile, and could be destroyed by one shot from a naval gun, or rammed and sunk by a merchant ship. Many British merchant ships were armed and the British Admiralty had ordered them to ram German submarines. In essence, if submarines were to follow the rules made for surface warships, they would be largely ineffective.

Germany offered to follow the traditional rules of cruiser warfare if Britain disarmed its merchant ships. Britain refused to do this and the United States, though considering the matter, did not put pressure on it to do so. However, according to the traditional maritime rules of war, armed merchant ships could be treated as warships.[20] Nevertheless, the Wilson administration refused to apply this traditional interpretation on the grounds that the British intended to use those weapons only for defensive purposes. The leading World War I revisionist historian of the interwar period, Charles Callan Tansill, writes that if Wilson “had taken any decisive action against the admission of armed British merchantmen into American harbors, and if he had warned American citizens of the dangers that attended passage on belligerent vessels, America might well have been spared the great sacrifice of 1917-1918.”[21]

As it was, there were a few significant incidents in which German submarines would sink belligerent merchant vessels—the Arabic in August 1915 (two American lives lost) and the Sussex on March 24, 1916 (with four American casualties). To these, the Wilson administration would protest vigorously and get the Germans to make concessions. As a result of breaking relations in the Sussex case, Germany promised to stop unrestricted submarine warfare toward merchant ships of all countries, and relations were restored.

The unanimous view of Wilson by historians (as far as I know) is that in regard to the war in Europe, he made his own decisions and did not rely on the views of his advisors. Nonetheless, it should be pointed out that three of his key advisors on the subject—his closest associate, Colonel Edward House (who had an honorary title but did not hold an official government position); counselor of the State Department and later Secretary of State, Robert Lansing; and Ambassador to Great Britain, Walter Hines Page—wanted the U.S. to pursue an even more favorable policy toward Britain than Wilson, and all supported America’s entrance into the war considerably earlier than Wilson. Although Wilson did not automatically accept the opinions of his advisors, it would seem highly likely that their pro-British views affected his own thinking since in a number of areas they were more knowledgeable than he. Nonetheless, it is not apparent that he even wanted to enter the war, though his bias toward Britain would ineluctably lead in this direction. Moreover, the fact that Wilson won the election of 1916, campaigning on the slogan, “He kept us out of war,” indicated that it might not be politically feasible to go to war. Certainly, a significant part of the Democratic Party was against war.

There was one major figure close to Wilson who dissented from the pro-British viewpoint, Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan. A leader of the Democratic Party, Bryan had been its candidate for president three times. And as an ardent opponent of war, Bryan believed that the U.S. should balance its firm line toward Germany on submarines with an equally strong stance toward Britain on America’s neutral rights. Moreover, he wanted the government to warn Americans that they would travel on belligerent ships at their own risk and to ban armed merchant ships from American ports. Wilson rejected all these measures on the grounds that they would violate America’s neutrality. Bryan resigned rather than sign a second harsh note regarding the Lusitania sinking in 1915 and Lansing would replace him as Secretary of State, which meant that the U.S. would become even more pro-British.

What Norman leaves out in his presentation are the economic factors that likely played a significant role in leading the United States to war. Some writers during the interwar period, both popular and professional historians, focused almost solely on America’s economic connection—American trade and loans– with the Allies as the cause of American involvement in the war. Greedy American banking interests—especially the House of Morgan, which served as the agent for the British and French in floating loans—and munitions makers were especially blamed, and this theory was pursued by the Special Committee on Investigation of the Munitions Industry (April 12, 1934–February 24, 1936), commonly known as the Nye Committee since it was chaired by staunch non-interventionist Senator Gerald P. Nye.

America was in an economic depression when the war began in August 1914. “It was the rapid growth of the munitions trade which rescued America from this serious economic situation,” writes Tansill.[22] And soon the Allies, especially Britain, became dependent on many types of goods from America—food, raw materials, and manufactured goods—which directly, or indirectly, aided their war effort. The American economy boomed, and those who benefited were not only a few bankers and “merchants of death” but also average American workers and farmers. But on the negative side, America’s now-booming economy was dependent on the war, not peaceful trade. Germany also sought goods from the United States but such trade was largely prevented by the British blockade.

It stands to reason that if the general American public materially benefited from the war trade—and would conceivably suffer severely from its elimination—it was politically necessary to continue a policy that benefited the Allies. America was essentially serving as a supply base for the Allied war effort, whereas Germany and the other Central Powers had to rely almost exclusively on their own populations and territory for their war needs. Obviously, Germany realized that this situation would be apt to lead to its defeat if the war dragged on too long.

Selling munitions by private companies, as opposed to governments, was traditionally considered legal for neutral states. However, Wilson could have been given the power by Congress to ban the sale of munitions and armaments, which it had done in 1912 regarding Mexico during its civil war, but Wilson did not request this authority and Congress did not grant it. Tansill maintains that because of the strong desire of the American people to stay out of the war it would have been politically feasible for the U.S. to have taken this position early in the war before the U.S. economy began to depend on this trade.[23]

Also, it became apparent that the warring countries would need loans to cover the cost of the war trade. Bryan, with Wilson’s approval, however, banned loans to the warring powers although neutrals were traditionally allowed to engage in this activity. However, Bryan allowed “credits,” and soon, owing to the realization that the warring parties did not have the funds to directly cover purchases, allowed what were essentially loans under the guise of “credits.”[24]

Credits and loans differed significantly from the fundamental trade of goods in their effect upon the parties involved. Tansill noted that “[a] loan to any of the belligerent nations would make the American investors partisans of the country whose bonds they had bought.” Tansill continues: “It is obvious that Secretary Bryan did not appreciate the strength of the economic ties that would be forged between the United States and the Allied Governments by the extension of large credits by American bankers to these same governments. He seemed unaware of the fact that there is little difference between credits and loans. These credits that had been authorized would bind the most articulate class in America to the Allied Powers.”[25]

In the end, it was America’s favoritism toward Britain and its Allies that caused Germany to accept war with the United States. America was not only serving as a supply base for the Allied war effort but was prohibiting Germany from making effective use of the submarine, its only way of competing with Britain at sea.

At the beginning of 1917, German naval and military leaders argued that even though unrestricted submarine warfare would almost guarantee an American declaration of war, for a long period of time it would be unlikely that a belligerent United States could do more damage to Germany than it was already doing with its benign neutrality toward the Allies. This was especially due to America’s lack of a large standing army which it would need to develop. Furthermore, German financial experts had calculated that the U.S. supply of munitions to the Allies was already at its peak so that its entrance into the war would likely cause this to decline significantly. Not only would unrestricted submarine warfare reduce the war supplies reaching the Allies but the U.S. as a belligerent would need to divert a significant proportion of its war production to its own expanding military.

While the German naval leaders presented the unrestricted submarine warfare as a virtual panacea to bring the war to a close, German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg questioned this claim, maintaining that it would be best to work for a compromise peace. In the end, the submarine warfare option was largely seen as a desperate gamble. Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg, the German Army’s chief of staff, stated at the conference where these plans were solidified on January 8, 1917: “We are counting on the possibility of war with the United States, and have made all preparations to meet it. Things cannot be worse than they now are. The war must be brought to an end by the use of all means as soon as possible.”[26]

Embellishing his own interpretation, Norman appears to get the time sequences confused as he writes: “Then Russia quit the fight. The German troops fighting on that front could be sent to fight the French and the British. It was, the Germans believed, an opportunity to win the war in early 1918. So they decided to resume unrestricted submarine warfare.” Germany’s decision on submarine warfare on January 30, 1917 was made long before Russia left the war. While the Tsarist regime was overthrown in mid March 1917 (Western calendar), its replacement, the Provisional Government, continued the war — even though the Russian army was disintegrating as many soldiers refused to fight — until the Bolshevik Revolution in early November (Western calendar). And even after the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in March 1918, which officially removed Bolshevik-ruled Russia from the war, large numbers of German troops remained in the East as an occupying force.[27]

Norman acknowledges that the war did not achieve a good outcome. But he emphasizes that this was “was not a result of America and its allies being too tough. They—and especially Wilson—had been too idealistic, too naïve. Wilson seems to have believed his own high-minded rhetoric and denied the evidence in front of his face.” This allegedly obvious evidence was the evil nature of Germany, as Norman recaps Germany’s alleged war crimes: “Germany had been the aggressor nation in 1914. Had invaded Belgium and murdered that country’s citizens for committing war crimes when they resisted. Had imposed ruthlessly tough terms on Russia in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Was ready to ally itself with Mexico in a war with the United States. Whatever it took to win Germany’s place in the sun—that was what the German rulers were willing to do.”

Having earlier dealt with the “rape of Belgium” and “war guilt” issues, it should now be noted that the territory the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk removed from Russia was inhabited largely by a number of non-Russian ethnic minorities—Ukrainians being the major one–and if this were a crime, it is odd why the United States today, and especially the Weekly Standard, condemn Russia for interfering in this very same region. Furthermore, Germany’s offer to align with Mexico against the United States was contingent upon the United States going to war against Germany. This tactic was hardly irregular since Britain was offering all types of territorial bribes in secret treaties—territory that belonged to other countries—to entice other countries and groups to make war against Germany and/or some of the other Central Powers.

Denying that the peace settlement imposed on Germany was too harsh, Norman contends that “a persuasive case can be made that if Wilson had been more ruthless at any point, the first war might have been won sooner and another one prevented. Only two of America’s wars have been bloodier than Wilson’s. Both the Civil War and World War II ended with total defeat and more or less unconditional surrender. And things were settled pretty much once and for all.”

Norman’s argument here is a standard defense for the failed wars that the neocons have advocated. For example, the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 was not the cause of the disaster that has emerged there but instead was the result of an improper occupation, for which a number of scenarios have been presented. Regarding World War I, however, there are many factors that could have precluded the success of a more ruthless peace—British/French rivalry; the opposition of the American people; the inability to maintain such a situation; the effect this would have in generating more support for Leninist Communism, to name but a few. However, discussing these would require an entire new essay, and the fact of the matter is that the U.S. did not enter the war to destroy Germany.

Notes

[1] This was the date that Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. The major powers—Britain, France, Germany, and Russia—became involved at the beginning of August.

[2] Geoffrey Norman, “Woodrow Wilson’s War, One hundred years later, idealism still isn’t enough,” Weekly Standard, April 3, 2017, http://www.weeklystandard.com/woodrow-wilsons-war/article/2007341

[3] Alan Kramer, “Atrocities,” International Encyclopedia of the First World War, http://encyclopedia.1914-1918-online.net/article/atrocities

[4] Kramer, “Atrocities.”

[5] For views by recent historians that reject the exclusive German guilt thesis, see Paul Gottfried, “Sleepwalk to Suicide,” American Conservative, January 21, 2014, http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/sleepwalk-to-suicide/

[6] “Blockade of Germany,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blockade_of_Germany In December 1918, the National Health Office in Berlin determined that 763,000 persons had died as a result of the blockade by that time. A study done in 1928 put the death toll at 424,000.

[7] Quoted in Ralph Raico, “The Blockade and Attempted Starvation of Germany,” review of The Politics of Hunger: Allied Blockade of Germany, 1915-1919 by C. Paul Vincent, Mises Daily Articles, May 7, 2010, https://mises.org/library/blockade-and-attempted-starvation-germany

[8] Robert W. Tucker, Woodrow Wilson and the Great War: Reconsidering America’s Neutrality 1914-1917 (Charlottesville, Va.: University of Virginia Press, 2007) , p. 97.

[9] Charles Callan Tansill, America Goes to War (Boston: Little Brown and Company, 1938), p. 216.

[10] Wayne S. Cole, An Interpretive History of American Foreign Relations, revised edition (Homewood, Ill.: Dorsey Press, 1974), p. 288.

[11] Edwin Borchard and William Potter Lage, Neutrality for the United States, second edition (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1940), pp. 15-16, 68-69.

[12] Justus D. Doenecke, Nothing Less than War: A New History of America’s Entry into World War I (Lexington, Ky.: University Press of Kentucky, 2011), p. 47.

[13] Tansill, p. 177.

[14] Borchard and Lage, p. 34; Office of the Historian, U.S. Department of State, Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1914, Supplement, The World War. Document 559, https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1914Supp/d559

[15] “Did Britain doom the Lusitania?,” BBC History Magazine, May 2015, http://www.historyextra.com/article/premium/did-britain-doom-lusitania

[16] Tucker, p. 142.

[17] Note that the deaths, including alleged deaths, caused today by Assad’s bombings in Syria cause far more concern than the many more deaths caused by Saudi bombings and blockade, supported by the United States, in Yemen.

[18] Tucker, p. 142.

[19] Tucker, p. 143.

[20] Borchard and Lage, p. 87.

[21] Tansill, p. 258.

[22] Tansill, p. 55.

[23] Tansill, p. 64.

[24] Doenecke, pp. 44.

[25] Tansill, p. 83.

[26] Patrick J. Buchanan, A Republic, Not an Empire: Reclaiming America’s Destiny (Washington: Regnery, 1999), p. 206.

[27] According to Timothy C. Downing in his article “Eastern Front” in the International Encyclopedia of the First World War: “The [German] occupation of Ukraine tied down thirty or forty divisions that might have enabled the Spring (Ludendorff) Offensives of 1918 to find success.”

April 24, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

The Main Issue in the French Presidential Election: National Sovereignty

By Diana Johnstone | CounterPunch | April 21, 2017

ParisThe 2017 French Presidential election marks a profound change in European political alignments. There is an ongoing shift from the traditional left-right rivalry to opposition between globalization, in the form of the European Union (EU), and national sovereignty.

Standard media treatment sticks to a simple left-right dualism: “racist” rejection of immigrants is the main issue and that what matters most is to “stop Marine Le Pen!” Going from there to here is like walking through Alice’s looking glass. Almost everything is turned around.

On this side of the glass, the left has turned into the right and part of the right is turning into the left.

Fifty years ago, it was “the left” whose most ardent cause was passionate support for Third World national liberation struggles. The left’s heroes were Ahmed Ben Bella, Sukarno, Amilcar Cabral, Patrice Lumumba, and above all Ho Chi Minh.  What were these leaders fighting for? They were fighting to liberate their countries from Western imperialism. They were fighting for independence, for the right to determine their own way of life, preserve their own customs, decide their own future. They were fighting for national sovereignty, and the left supported that struggle.

Today, it is all turned around. “Sovereignty” has become a bad word in the mainstream left.

National sovereignty is an essentially defensive concept. It is about staying home and minding one’s own business. It is the opposite of the aggressive nationalism that inspired fascist Italy and Nazi Germany to conquer other countries, depriving them of their national sovereignty.

The confusion is due to the fact that most of what calls itself “the left” in the West has been totally won over to the current form of imperialism – aka “globalization”. It is an imperialism of a new type, centered on the use of military force and “soft” power to enable transnational finance to penetrate every corner of the earth and thus to reshape all societies in the endless quest for profitable return on capital investment. The left has been won over to this new imperialism because it advances under the banner of “human rights” and “antiracism” – abstractions which a whole generation has been indoctrinated to consider the central, if not the only, political issues of our times.

The fact that “sovereignism” is growing in Europe is interpreted by mainstream globalist media as proof that “Europe is moving to the right”– no doubt because Europeans are “racist”. This interpretation is biased and dangerous. People in more and more European nations are calling for national sovereignty precisely because they have lost it. They lost it to the European Union, and they want it back.

That is why the British voted to leave the European Union. Not because they are “racist”, but primarily because they cherish their historic tradition of self-rule.

The Socialist Party shipwreck

As his five-year presidency drew to its ignominious end, François Hollande was obliged by his drastic unpopularity to let his Parti Socialiste (PS) choose its 2017 presidential candidate by primary. In a surprising upset, the Socialist government’s natural candidate, prime minister Manuel Valls, lost to Benoit Hamon, an obscure member of the PS left wing who refused to vote for the unpopular, neo-liberal, anti-labor laws designed by Hollande’s economic advisor, Emmanuel Macron.

To escape from the unpopularity of the PS, Macron formed his own movement, “En Marche!” One after another, Valls, Hollande and other prominent PS leaders are tiptoeing away, leaving Hamon at the helm of the sinking ship. As Hamon justifiably protests against their betrayal, the party bigwigs pledge their support to Emmanuel Macron.

Macron ostentatiously hesitates to welcome his shopworn converts into the fold, fearing that their conversion makes it too obvious that his “En Marche!” is a clone of the right wing of the PS, on the way to becoming the French subsidiary of the U.S. Democratic Party in its Clintonian form. Macron proclaims that he is neither left nor right, as discredited politicians from both left and right jump on his bandwagon, to his embarrassment.

Hamon himself appears to be unaware that the basic cause of the Socialist Party’s shipwreck is its incompatible devotion to two contrary principles: traditional social democracy, and the European Union (EU). Macron, Hollande and their fellow turncoats at least have made their choice: the European Union.

The Twilight of the Traditional Right

The great advantage of Republican candidate François Fillon is that his policies are clear. Unlike Hollande, who tried to disguise his neoliberal policies as something else, and based his claim to be on the left on “societal” issues (gay marriage), Fillon is an unabashed conservative. His policies are designed to reduce the huge national debt. Whereas previous governments (including his own, when he was President Sarkozy’s Prime Minister) beat around the bush, Fillon won the Republican nomination by a program of sharp cutbacks in government spending. Fillon claims that his austerity measures will lead French capitalists to invest in France and thus save the country’s economy from being completely taken over by foreign corporations, American retirement funds and Qatar. This is highly doubtful, as there is nothing under EU rules to encourage French investors to invest in France rather than somewhere else.

Fillon departs from EU orthodoxy, however, by proposing a more independent foreign policy, notably by ending the “absurd” sanctions against Russian. He is more concerned about the fate of Middle East Christians than about overthrowing Assad.

The upshot is that Fillon’s coherent pro-capitalist policy is not exactly what the dominant globalizing elite prefers. The “center left” is their clear political choice since Tony Blair and Bill Clinton revised the agendas of their respective parties. The center left emphasis on human rights (especially in faraway countries targeted for regime change) and ethnic diversity at home fits the long-term globalist aims of erasing national borders, to allow unrestricted free movement of capital. Traditional patriotic conservatism, represented by Fillon, does not altogether correspond to the international adventurism of globalization.

The Schizophrenic Left

For a generation, the French left has made “the construction of Europe” the center of its world view. In the early 1980s, faced with opposition from what was then the European Community, French President François Mitterrand abandoned the socializing program on which he been elected. Mitterrand nursed the hope that France would politically dominate a united Europe, but the unification of Germany changed all that. So did EU expansion to Eastern Central nations within the German sphere of influence. Economic policy is now made in Germany.

As the traditional left goal of economic equality was abandoned, it was superseded by emphatic allegiance to “human rights”, which is now taught in school as a veritable religion. The vague notion of human rights was somehow associated with the “free movement” of everything and everybody. Indeed the official EU dogma is protection of “free movement”: free movement of goods, people, labor and (last but certainly not least) capital. These “four freedoms” in practice transform the nation from a political society into a financial market, an investment opportunity, run by a bureaucracy of supposed experts. In this way, the European Union has become the vanguard experiment in transforming the world into a single capitalist market.

The French left bought heavily into this ideal, partly because it deceptively echoed the old leftist ideal of “internationalism” (whereas capital has always been incomparably more “international” than workers), and partly due to the simplistic idea that “nationalism” is the sole cause of wars. More fundamental and complex causes of war are ignored.

For a long time, the left has complained about job loss, declining living standards, delocalization or closure of profitable industries, without recognizing that these unpopular results are caused by EU requirements. EU directives and regulations increasingly undermine the French model of redistribution through public services, and are now threatening to wipe them out altogether – either because “the government is bankrupt” or because of EU competition rules prohibit countries from taking measures to preserve their key industries or their agriculture. Rather than face reality, the left’s reaction has mostly been to repeat its worn-out demand for an impossible “Social Europe”.

Yet the dream of “social Europe” received what amounted to a fatal blow ten years ago. In 2005, a referendum was called to allow the French to approve a Constitution for united Europe. This led to an extraordinary popular discussion, with countless meetings of citizens examining every aspect of this lengthy document. Unlike normal constitutions, this document froze the member States in a single monetarist economic policy, with no possibility of change.

On May 29, 2005, French voters rejected the treaty by 55% to 45%.

What seemed to be a great victory for responsible democracy turned into its major failure. Essentially the same document, renamed the Lisbon Treaty, was ratified in December 2007, without a referendum. Global governance had put the people in their place. This produced widespread disillusion with politics as millions concluded that their votes didn’t matter, that politicians paid no attention to the will of the people.

Even so, Socialist politicians continued to pledge undying allegiance to the EU, always with the prospect that “Social Europe” might somehow be possible.

Meanwhile, it has become more and more obvious that EU monetarist policy based on the common currency, the euro, creates neither growth nor jobs as promised but destroys both. Unable to control its own currency, obliged to borrow from private banks, and to pay them interest, France is more and more in debt, its industry is disappearing and its farmers are committing suicide, on the average of one every other day. The left has ended up in an impossible position: unswervingly loyal to the EU while calling for policies that are impossible under EU rules governing competition, free movement, deregulation, budgetary restraints, and countless other regulations produced by an opaque bureaucracy and ratified by a virtually powerless European Parliament, all under the influence of an army of lobbyists.

Benoit Hamon remains firmly stuck on the horns of the left’s fatal dilemma: determination to be “socialist”, or rather, social democratic, and passionate loyalty to “Europe”. While insisting on social policies that cannot possibly be carried out with the euro as currency and according to EU rules, Hamon still proclaims loyalty to “Europe”. He parrots the EU’s made-in-Washington foreign policy, demanding that “Assad must go” and ranting against Putin and Russia.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon Grasps the Nettle

Not only is the drab, conformist Hamon abandoned by his party heavies, he is totally upstaged on the left by the flamboyant Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a maverick ready to break the rules. After years as a PS loyalist, Mélenchon broke away in 2005 to oppose the Constitutional Treaty, gaining prominence as a fiery orator. In 2007, he left the Socialist Party and founded the Parti de Gauche (Left Party). Allied with the much weakened Communist Party, he came in fourth in the first round of the 2012 Presidential election with 11% of the vote. This time he is running for President with his own new movement, La France Insoumise, which can be translated in a number of ways, including “the France that does not submit”.

Submit to what? Mainly, to the euro and to the antisocial, neoliberal policies of the European Union that are ruining France.

French flags and la Marseillaise have replaced the Internationale at Mélenchon rallies. “The Europe of our dreams is dead,” he acknowledges, vowing to “end the nightmare of dictatorship by banks and finance”.

Mélenchon calls for outright disobedience by violating EU treaties that are harmful to France. That is his Plan A. His Plan B is to leave the EU, in case Plan A fails to convince Germany (the current boss) and the others to agree to change the treaties. But at best, Plan B is an empty threat to strengthen his hand in theoretical negotiations. France is such a crucial member, he maintains, that a French threat to leave should be enough to force changes.

Threatening to leave the EU is just part of Mélenchon’s vast and complicated program which includes calling a national convention to draft a constitution for France’s “sixth Republic” as well as major ecological innovation. Completely changing both France and the European Union at the same time would require the nation to be in a revolutionary effervescence that is by no means visible. It would also require a unanimity among the EU’s 28 member States that is simply impossible.

But Mélenchon is canny enough to have recognized the basic problem: the enemy of jobs, prosperity and public services is the European Union. Mélenchon is by far the candidate that generates the most excitement. He has rapidly outdistanced Hamon and draws huge enthusiastic crowds to his rallies. His progress has changed the shape of the race: at this moment, he has become one of four front-runners who might get past the first round vote on April 23 into the finals on May 7: Le Pen, Macron, Fillon and himself.

The Opposites are (almost) the Same

A most remarkable feature of this campaign is great similarity between the two candidates said to represent “the far left”, Mélenchon, and “the far right”, Marine Le Pen. Both speak of leaving the euro. Both vow to negotiate with the EU to get better treaty terms for France. Both advocate social policies to benefit workers and low income people. Both want to normalize relations with Russia. Both want to leave NATO, or at least its military command. Both defend national sovereignty, and can thus be described as “sovereignists”.

The only big difference between them is on immigration, an issue that arouses so much emotion that it is hard to discuss sensibly. Those who oppose immigration are accused of “fascism”, those who favor immigration are accused of wanting to destroy the nation’s identity by flooding it with inassimilable foreigners.

In a country suffering from unemployment, without jobs or housing to accommodate mass immigration, and under the ongoing threat of Islamist terror attacks, the issue cannot be reasonably reduced to “racism” – unless Islamic terrorists constitute a “race”, for which there is no evidence. Le Pen insists that all French citizens deserve equal treatment regardless of their origins, race or religion. She is certain to get considerable support from recently nationalized immigrants, just as she now gets a majority of working class votes. If this is “fascism”, it has changed a lot in the past seventy years.

What is significant is that despite their differences, the two most charismatic candidates both speak of restoring national sovereignty. Both evoke the possibility of leaving the European Union, although in rather uncertain terms.

The globalist media are already preparing to blame the eventual election of a “sovereignist” candidate on Vladimir Putin. Public opinion in the West is being prepared for massive protests to break out against an undesired winner, and the “antifa” militants are ready to wreak havoc in the streets. Some people who like Marine Le Pen are afraid of voting for her, fearing the “color revolution” sure to be mounted against her.  Mélenchon and even Fillon might face similar problems.

As a taste of things to come, on April 20, the EU Observer published an article entitled “Russia-linked fake news floods French social media”. Based on something called Bakamo, one of the newly established “fact-check” outfits meant to steer readers away from unofficial opinion, the article accused Russian-influenced web sites of favoring Marine Le Pen, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, François Fillon, Francois Asselineau, and Philippe Poutou. (They forgot to mention one of the most “sovereignist” candidates, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, currently polling in sixth place.)  Since a large majority of the eleven candidates, including three of the four front-runners, are strongly critical of the EU and of NATO and want to improve relations with Russia, it would seem that Putin wouldn’t have to make a great effort to get a more friendly French government next time around. On the other hand, the EU Observer article is only a small sample of blatant “interference in the French election” on the part of the globalists on behalf of their favorite, Emmanuel Macron, the most enthusiastic Europhile.

The Future of France

Among those listed as alleged Russian favorites, François Asselineau is by far the most thorough critic of the European Union. Systematically ignored by the media since he founded his anti-EU party, the Union Populaire Républicain (UPR), ten years ago, François Asselineau has thousands of ardent supporters who have plastered his poster all over the country. His tireless didactic speeches, reproduced on internet, have driven home several key points:

– there is no way to improve the EU from the inside, because any change would require unanimity among 27 member states who disagree on key issues.

– the only solution for France is to use Article 50 of the EU treaties to withdraw entirely, as the United Kingdom is currently doing.

– only by leaving the EU can France save its public services, its social benefits, its economy and its democracy.

– it is only by restoring its national sovereignty that genuine democratic life, with confrontation between a real “left” and “right”, can be possible.

– by leaving the EU, France, which has over 6,000 treaties with other countries, would not be isolated but would be joining the greater world.

Asselineau is a single issue candidate. He vows that as soon as elected, he would invoke Article 50 to leave the EU and immediately apply to Washington to withdraw from NATO. He emphasizes that none of the other critics of the EU propose such a clear exit within the rules.

Other candidates, including the more charismatic Mélenchon and Le Pen, echo some of Asselineau’s arguments. But they are not ready to go so far as to advocate a clear immediate break with the EU, if only because they realize that the French population, while increasingly critical of the euro and alienated from the “European dream”, is still fearful of actually leaving, due to dire warnings of disaster from the Europeists.

The first round campaign is an opportunity for Asselineau to present his ideas to a wider audience, preparing public opinion for a more coherent “Frexit” policy. By far the most fundamental emerging issue in this campaign is the conflict between the European Union and national sovereignty. It will probably not be settled in this election, but it won’t go away. This is the major issue of the future, because it determines whether any genuine political life is possible.

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

April 21, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment