Monday, April 24, 2017

Macrons Marionette

Italienischer Politiker: Macron ist eine „elegante Marionette“

© REUTERS/ Eric Gaillard
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Präsidentschaftswahlkampf in Frankreich 2017 (76)
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Der Vorsitzende der italienischen Oppositionspartei „Lega Nord“, Matteo Salvini, hat das Ergebnis der ersten Präsidentschaftswahlrunde in Frankreich für die Chefin der „Front National“, Marine Le Pen, begrüßt und seine Hoffnung geäußert, dass die Franzosen bei der Stichwahl gegen Emmanuel Macron stimmen werden.

Nach Angaben des französischen Innenministeriums hat Macron („En Marche!“) 23,75 Prozent der Wählerstimmen erhalten. Le Pen musste sich mit „nur“ 21,53 Prozent begnügen. Allerdings sind beide in die Stichwahl eingezogen. Der ehemalige Premier Francois Fillon („Les Républicains“) genoss die Unterstützung von 19,91 Prozent der Mitbürger. Der Kandidat von der ultralinken Bewegung „La France insoumise“ („Das aufständische Frankreich“), Jean-Luc Melenchon, kam auf 19,64 Prozent.
„Ich glaube nicht, dass die Franzosen für Macron stimmen werden, und glaube, dass Melenchons Anhänger Le Pen unterstützen. Und so werden es alle Opfer der strengen Sparmaßnahmen und der Globalisierung tun“, sagte Salvini in einem Interview für die Zeitung „Corriere della Sera“.  „Ich glaube nicht, dass sie für diese elegante Marionette stimmen werden, die selbst am Strand eine Krawatte trägt. Sie werden nicht für jemanden stimmen, der sich von den Verdammten aus Brüssel manipulieren lässt.“
Nach Auffassung Salvinis hat Macron nichts Neues vorzuweisen. „Das ist dieselbe Suppe, die sich kaum noch jemand schmecken lässt. Es geht nicht darum, ob man rechts oder links ist, sondern darum, ob man von Brüssel abhängt oder nicht“, so der Führer der „Lega Nord“, der ständig Kritik an der EU übt und Rom auffordert, die italienischen Grenzen unter eigene Kontrolle zu nehmen und auf den Euro zu verzichten.
Was Le Pen angeht, so zeigte sich Salvini überzeugt, dass in Frankreich gegen sie vor allem Vertreter des juristischen Systems, des Bank- und Finanzwesens eingestellt sind. „Sie musste sich von einer russischen Bank kreditieren lassen, denn niemand in Frankreich wollte ihr Geld leihen. Das ist eine Schande. Wir haben Kreditlinien seitens einiger Banken, aber wenn man mir jemals sagen würde, die ‚Lega Nord‘ würde nichts mehr bekommen, dann würde ich irgendwo sonst das nötige Geld beschaffen. Der Kredit wird zurückgezahlt, und Punkt“, so Salvini.
Darüber hinaus unterstrich er, dass für die „Front National“ in Frankreich vor allem junge Menschen stimmen – genauso wie für die „Lega Nord“ in Italien.

"A Vote for Le Pen is a Vote for peace" Adam Garrie

Marine Le Pen: Why I’m with her

Like many post-imperial western European states, France has not recovered easily from the scars of its lost empire.The brutality of late-colonial French suppression of freedom fighters in French Indo-China (later Vietnam) and Algeria is among the darkest moments in French history and indeed all of European colonial history.
This is something that many in France continue to grapple with. The post-colonial collective conscience of France is still conflicted, angry and at times even desperate.
These are not words that would normally be welcomed at a rally of Front National, the party founded and led for decades by Jean-Marie Le Pen. As someone who in just a few weeks time will march in The Immortal Regiment honouring the Soviet heroes who defeated fascism, the greatest plague in the history of mankind, I could hardly support a far-right reactionary like Jean-Marie Le Pen, a man who had something of a sympathetic perspective on the Hitler regime and Hitler’s Vichy French puppets.
But Marine Le Pen is not Jean-Marie Le Pen and today’s Front National is not the Front National of the past.
I support Marine Le Pen and hope she becomes the next President of France. Her foreign policy is realistic, anti-dogmatic, anti-extremist and as a result, it represents something that is deeply humane.
She supports Bashar al-Assad’s war against terrorism in a country France once terrorised itself. She has no ambitions to fight current President Francois Hollande’s neo-colonial war.
She does not want to follow in Napoleon’s footsteps and march to war with Russia, only this time carrying an EU flag. Marine Le Pen wants to cooperate with, trade with and engage in good relations with Russia.
She does not want the EU, a union modelled partly on Germany’s Zollverein and in other aspects, the French Revolutionary wars that sought to and for a time united Europe under the flag of blood-soaked liberal idealism. That failed and so too will the EU as presently constituted.
Marine Le Pen represents diplomacy and atonement for a country which like the United States, Britain, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium and before that Portugal and Spain, engaged in brutal wars of conquest and imperialism in the very recent past and indeed in many cases, into the present day.
The practical end-result of Marine Le Pen’s policies will mean a France and possibly a Europe working for the sake of peace where at the moment ,the EU is a cauldron of war mongers. She has a lot on her plate, but I am inclined to believe her. She criticised Donald Trump where he was wrong and yet Trump still respects her. This is the kind of leader France needs.
For these reasons alone, a vote for Marine Le Pen is a vote that can be cast in good faith.
As for her domestic policies, she seems increasingly in touch with the majority of French people, whereas most of her opponents continue to push for a globalised, post-modern culture than many in France, like many throughout the western world have grown tired of.
She speaks for peace and she speaks for the wishes of her countrymen and women.
Because of that, I’m with her!

Highly Unlikely for Marine Le Pen to win Second Round of the French Election?

Prospects for Le Pen fade as Macron looks set to win Presidency

Electoral arithmetic and political tradition makes it highly unlikely that Marine Le Pen can win the second round of the French election

It remains theoretically still possible for Marine Le Pen to win the French Presidential election.
The opinions on foreign policy of the conservative candidate François Fillon are close to hers, and her overall programme should in theory be attractive to his conservative Catholic electoral base.
On economic questions – though not on immigration – the opinions of Jean-Luc Mélenchon and of the socialist Benoît Hamon are also closer to hers than to those of the so-called ‘centrist’ front-runner Emmanuel Macron.  Logically one might therefore expect their supporters to be more likely to vote for her in the second round than for Macron.
For the record, I suspect that Mélenchon’s late surge in the polls came in part at Le Pen’s expense, and is the reason why Le Pen came second to Macron in the first round.  It is striking that whilst Fillon and Hamon have predictably called on their supporters to vote for Macron, Mélenchon has failed to do so.  I suspect Mélenchon knows that many of the people who voted for him had previously intended to vote for Le Pen, and are more drawn to Le Pen than to Macron, and will therefore turn on him if he now endorses Macron.
In spite of all this, electoral politics are not logical, and I have to say that I think the prospects of Le Pen winning the second round look to me very slim.
Elections in France to a great extent are still governed by the two great events of modern French history – the 1789 Revolution and the Second World War – making it very difficult to see how someone who has been successfully painted an ‘extreme right fascist’ can win, unless there is a fundamental sea-change of opinion in French society.  Since I don’t think that such a fundamental sea-change of opinion in French society has happened, it still seems to me far more likely that the large majority of Fillon’s, Mélenchon’s and Hamon’s voters will vote for Macron in the second round to ‘keep the fascist’ out.
That all but guarantees Macron victory in the second round, probably by a large margin.  That is what the opinion polls have been saying for months, and I am sure they are right.
Realistically, the prospects of Marine Le Pen winning this election have always been slim.  The French regional elections in December 2015 showed that her Front National was still up against an effective electoral ceiling, with too many French voters prepared to vote tactically to prevent it winning for it to achieve a breakthrough.
That always made Marine Le Pen’s chances of winning this year’s Presidential election look slim.  Indeed I have heard that Front National officials have privately acknowledged the fact, and have been saying that Marine Le Pen’s strategy in this election was not so much to win the Presidency – which she always knew was beyond her reach – but to increase the size of her electoral base so as to prepare for a more effective challenge in 2022.
Returning to the present election, one doesn’t have to approve of the French establishment (I don’t) to admire their skill.
Back in the autumn François Fillon, with his dangerous calls for rapprochement with Russia, looked a certain bet for the Presidency.  He has been derailed by a transparently concocted scandal and a phoney candidate.  The skill with which Macron – the  ultimate insider and defender of the status quo – has been passed off as an ‘outsider’ and an agent of change has been nothing short of astonishing.
In saying this I should stress that I strongly doubt the ploy has actually fooled anyone.  The reason Macron is now set to become President of France is not because anybody was genuinely fooled by the transparently false propaganda created around him.  It is because a sufficiently large number of French voters wilfully colluded in the deception, with the propaganda being their excuse – not their reason – for voting for Macron.
That shows that for all the talk of malaise in France there is still a sufficiently large number of French voters with a stake in the current system to preserve the status quo, thereby keeping it going at least for a while longer.

China calls Trump’s bluff

BREAKING: China calls Trump’s bluff; warns against unilateral action against North Korea

Telephone call by Chinese President and statement by Chinese Foreign Minister show President Trump's bluff on North Korea has been called.

As the Carl Vinson carrier group resumes its zigzag journey towards North Korea, comes news of a telephone call yesterday by Chinese President Xi Jinping to US President Donald Trump.  Importantly it seems it was President Xi who initiated the call as he set out to President Trump China’s position on the North Korean issue.
The People’s Daily – the official newspaper of China’s Communist Party – has provided a summary of the call
China hopes all parties can exercise “restraint” on the DPRK issue, and not take “provocative actions”, said Chinese President Xi Jinping during a phone conversation with his US counterpart Donald Trump on Monday.
Xi stressed China is strongly against any action that would violate any UN Security Council resolutions. The Chinese president added that only if all parties take their responsibilities and work together can the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue be solved.
The phone conversation came amid rising tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missileprograms, with concerns growing over the possibility of a sixth DPRK nuclear test.
(bold italics added)
An account of the call has also been provided by the White House.  It reads as follows
President Donald J. Trump spoke yesterday with President Xi Jinping of China to address issues regarding North Korea.  President Trump criticized North Korea’s continued belligerence and emphasized that Pyongyang’s actions are destabilizing the Korean Peninsula.  The two leaders reaffirmed the urgency of the threat posed by North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs, and committed to strengthen coordination in achieving the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
This telephone call came simultaneously with a statement yesterday on the North Korean issue by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who is currently in Athens, Greece.  Here complete is the People’s Daily account of what Wang Yi said
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi here on Sunday urged all sides to make voices of peace and reason on the Korean Peninsula issue, and reiterated China’s consistent and definite stand on denuclearizing the Peninsula.
Wang made the statement when asked about the situation of the Korean Peninsula at a joint press conference with his Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias.
Wang said that there were already enough shows of force and confrontation at present and that “we need to make peaceful and rational voices.”
China’s stand on the issue of the Korean Peninsula is constant and definite, and will not change, which means adherence to realizing denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and adherence to maintaining peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula. Therefore, peaceful means must be applied to solve the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula, Wang noted.
Though China is not the focus of the current contradiction, and though the key to solving the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula is not in its hands, China, adopting an attitude of assuming responsibility for peace of the Korean Peninsula and regional stability, has always been exerting efforts for resuming peace talks, according to Wang.
Recently, China has put forward a legitimate and reasonable proposal on the issue, which is winning understanding and support from more and more countries, the Chinese minister said, adding that China welcomes solutions proposed by other sides concerned if they also hold sincerity for peace.
China will not be swayed by the various statements concerned, and will not renounce its due responsibility,” Wang said, “China will continue maintaining dialogue and consultation with all sides and continue playing a constructive role in solving the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula.”(bold italics added)
The highlighted words in the summaries of the comments of Xi Jinping and of Wang Yi make quite clear what China’s message to the US is.
China has warned the US against taking military action against North Korea.  It regards such military action as dangerous, destabilising, provocative and contrary to international law.  It also regards US threats to take unilateral action against North Korea as provocative and unhelpful.
China does not consider itself under any duty to “solve” the North Korean problem (“China is not the focus of the current contradiction”) and cannot and will not force North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons or to stop its nuclear weapons programme (“solving the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula is not in [China’s] hands”).
That appears to rule out China imposing the sort of all-embracing sanctions on North Korea Donald Trump wants it to.
Instead what China wants is direct talks (“resuming peace talks”) between the US and North Korea to resolve their conflict.  Whilst this obviously includes denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula (which would also involve the withdrawal of US nuclear weapons known to be deployed in South Korea), the reference to “peace talks” may imply that China wants the US to negotiate a more all-encompassing peace settlement between itself and North Korea, as was originally envisaged during the previous period of dialogue between the US and North Korea in the 1990s.
The Chinese are making it clear that they are unimpressed both by Donald Trump’s threats and by his bribes (trade agreements and the like), and that they will not be swayed from their position on North Korea because of them (“China will not be swayed by the various statements concerned”).
President Trump’s response to this warning from China appears to have been both defensive and blustering (“President Trump criticized North Korea’s continued belligerence and emphasized that Pyongyang’s actions are destabilizing the Korean Peninsula”).
The strange movements of the Carl Vinson and its associated battle-fleet have understandably enough led many people to the think that the crisis which has been brewing up in the Korean Peninsula over the last few weeks is a wholly fake one, and that nothing real is happening there.
That clearly is not China’s view, as shown by the string of warnings China gave the US yesterday.
If President Trump was bluffing China to get China to put more pressure on North Korea, then – as I predicted–  his bluff has been called, and yesterday he was made starkly aware of the fact by no less a person than the Chinese President.  The fact his bluff was called no doubt explains Trump’s defensive and blustering response.
It is now up to President Trump to decide whether, with his bluff called, he now escalates, or draws back.  It is to be hoped he draws back.

Sergey Lavrov blasts OPCW for failing to conduct investigation in Khan Sheikhun

He reiterated calls to send inspectors to the site of the alleged chemical weapons attack.

Russian Foreign Minsiter Sergey Lavrov has criticised the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for refusing to investigate the site of the infamous alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria’s Idlib Governorate, said to have happened on the 4th of April.
The organisation which oversaw the removal of chemical weapons from the possession of the Syrian government in 2013/2014 has drawn its conclusion over the alleged attack in Khan Sheikhun without having visited the region.
It seems unfathomable that any group, in this case the OPCW could pretend to actually care to find out what happened on the 4th of April without first conducting a full investigation on the ground. They instead relied on autopsies of alleged victims conducted far from the site and not even in Syria. In this instance, they were mostly conducted in Turkey.
Sergey Lavrov described the situation in the following way,
“This is strange, because the decision did not stipulate anything other than to conduct an independent, impartial, transparent investigation with an expert visit to the site”.
He continued,
“We will expect that after all, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will send experts to Khan Sheikhoun and to the (Sha’irat) airfield strictly on the basis of its mandate, which requires the widest possible geographical representation of experts”.
Lavrov called for the OPCW to act in a fully transparent manner, echoing previous calls for a full investigation of the site, a site around which no one has yet come forward to ask for medicines or antidotes for the gas they would have been exposed to, assuming US narrative was indeed accurate.