[Marxism] Vladimir Putin's Woman in Paris

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue May 27 06:16:05 MDT 2014

Wall Street Journal, May 26 2014
Opinion Europe
Vladimir Putin's Woman in Paris
Marine Le Pen wants to neuter the EU as a political force. The Kremlin 
couldn't ask for a better ally.

By John Vinocur

It started out as your average tragicomic week in the France of May 2014.

The armed forces' chief of staff, backed by his generals in charge of 
the army, navy and air force, threatened to quit over planned cuts in 
military budgets. A government agency, debunking a presidential promise 
to reverse the country's jobless trend, said unemployment would rise 
this year and next. And the national railroad acknowledged that 2,000 
new trains it had ordered for $20.5 billion were too wide to fit into 
about 1,600 stations.

The inured and sarcastically inclined could go on whistling Phil 
Collins's "Another Day in Paradise." But on Sunday France embraced 
ignominy. The supposedly detoxified extreme right-wing National Front 
party, led by the supposedly non-noxious Marine Le Pen, running on an 
anti-European-Union, anti-immigrant platform, handily defeated both the 
governing Socialists and opposition Gaullists in an election for the 
European Parliament.

On the grid of French history—from its central role in the 
Enlightenment, to its Nazi collaborators in World War II (whose 
apologists figured among the National Front's founders), to its 
ambitions to make a united Europe a world-player and decision maker—the 
election result stands as a shameful entry.

It came unopposed by outrage. Compared with the democratic legitimacy 
sought, and reinforced, the same day in Ukraine's presidential election, 
and the milder populist advances elsewhere in the European vote, France 
produced a spectacle of nihilism that damages the West and delights 
Vladimir Putin.

When Prime Minister Manuel Valls called at the campaign's end for a 
"democratic insurrection'' against what he said was a choice for hatred 
and division, his appeal was ignored. A majority of registered voters 
stayed home.
Enlarge Image

French National Front President Marine Le Pen. Zuma Press

The Germans, who polls say consider the French their best friend, and 
who fear their neighbor becoming an angry, hard-to-manage political 
cripple, are taking the point. Martin Schulz, the European Parliament's 
current president, had a circumscribed view: "It is a bad day for the 
European Union when a party with such a racist, xenophobic and 
anti-Semitic program gets 25 percent of the vote in France." The 
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, in its report from Paris, nailed the 
broader picture: "France's governability is in play now—with the 
country's reputation in Europe and the world.''

So who, really, is Marine Le Pen? And what bodes the legitimization of a 
politician able to remarkably exploit a Socialist government's 
aloofness, economic dysfunction and incapacity to calm the alienation 
felt by working-class voters in relation to France's large 
Muslim-immigrant community?

In terms of France's role as an international player, Ms. Le Pen's party 
has called for the creation of a Paris-Berlin-Moscow axis. She describes 
Mr. Putin as "a patriot"—and generally sounds, after a pre-election trip 
to Moscow, as intent as the Russian president to neuter the EU as a 
Western political force.

Mr. Putin couldn't have a more comfortably avowed ally. "He's aware we 
are defending common values,'' she said of the Kremlin ruler. Which 
ones? Ms. Le Pen's response: "The Christian heritage of European 

As for a softer, gentler National Front, Ms. Le Pen assigned the task of 
attacking Muslims to her father, who worked her rallies as an 
opening-act rabble-rouser. Example: In Marseille last week, warning of 
immigrant hordes about to descend on Europe from Africa, Jean-Marie Le 
Pen came up with the idea that the fatal Ebola virus "could take care of 
that in three months.'' The next day, of course, he explained that he 
couldn't wish for a surge in the disease.

Asked Sunday night about whether the party would accept an offer of an 
alliance with Greece's neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party and explain its own 
relations to anti-Semitism, National Front Vice President Florian 
Philippot fled anything resembling an intelligible reply.

The immediate question for a France bearing the Le Pen stain is how much 
trust it can garner internationally and whether it has the resilience to 
continue challenging the toughness of Barack Obama on his wavering Iran 
and Syria positions. The government has no reason now to tone down its 
basic opposition to a trans-Atlantic free-trade pact. Mostly absent from 
engagement on Ukraine, and tracking Germany's hesitations, it has 
already shown little interest in substantively challenging Russia's 
threat of further aggrandizement in Eastern Europe.

Rather the opposite. Look at France's continued insistence on delivering 
the two helicopter-carrying Mistral attack vessels it sold to Russia for 
probable deployment on the Black Sea.

In the process, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius issued a startling 
assessment this month on the way of the world at the Brookings 
Institution in Washington. According to Associated Press, he spoke of 
the West's need not to alienate countries like Russia and China. "They 
consider that the international order is biased in favor of the West," 
the AP quoted him. "We might disagree but we have to take into account 
this perception."

How about repelling it?

In a new world where the National Front is the biggest French 
vote-getter, and where it may lead an official European Parliament 
political faction grandly subsidized with taxpayers' money, Mr. Putin 
can count at the least on Marine Le Pen as being appeasement's loudest 

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