Far from being ‘the next de Gaulle’, the French president has sided with the US and NATO at every turn
During NATO’s US-led intervention in Iraq, then-UK Prime Minister Tony Blair played the role of shotgun-riding sidekick to then-US President George W. Bush when the prime minister was in the best position to mitigate the headlong rush into war. French President Emmanuel Macron is now the enabler of the NATO-Russia conflict in Ukraine. And it’s the people of Europe – including French citizens who are set to head to the polls on April 10 and 24 to decide whether Macron deserves a second five-year presidential mandate – who are on the verge of realizing just how much Macron’s kowtowing to the US is going to personally cost them.
Foreign Policy magazine reported that February 2019, Foreign Policy magazine stated “Macron is going full De Gaulle,”And that’s just the beginning. “France’s president is pushing around Britain, Germany, and Italy – and going back to his country’s foreign-policy roots.” If Macron had truly been acting in the manner of the French President and ex-General Charles de Gaulle from World War II, Macron would have stood against the US that pushed NATO to train and arm Ukrainian fighters and recklessly escalated its antagonism towards Russia.
President de Gaulle was so incensed by Washington’s willingness to have France’s armed forces come under US-led NATO collective control that he pulled Paris out of the integrated military command in 1966, at the very height of the Cold War with the Soviet Union that represented the military alliance’s entire raison d’être. De Gaulle moved between Washington and Moscow afterward, with the credibility of not being in strict alignment to any global superpower. This allowed him to be an honest broker and impartial on both sides. To further underscore France’s total independence, de Gaulle ratified a foreign affairs, science, and technology cooperation agreement that same year with the Soviet Union, which set France on a divergent course from its Western allies.
But in 2009, French President Nicolas Sarkozy reintegrated France into NATO, and Macron has been trying to regain France’s previous reputation as a truly independent broker between Moscow and Washington. He even tried to reorient NATO’s strategic objectives by calling it “brain dead”Believing that its counterterrorism mission should be refocused, it has also stressed the need to do this. Macron has advocated for the Gaullist European position as an independent global power.
But recent actions speak much louder than Macron’s words. And it didn’t start with the Ukraine conflict. Last year, the Australian government canceled a €50 billion submarine acquisition contract with France, with Washington being the ultimate beneficiary, as President Joe Biden announced that a new China-targeting alliance would include Australia, Britain, and the US, with France excluded despite having significant overseas territories in the region.
Numerous French experts believed Macron should have responded by withdrawing France from NATO. However, Macron chose to accept undefined American support in the Sahel area of Africa. Today, the current value of that US offer is questionable in the wake of France’s withdrawal from Mali.
So what net gain did Macron secure for France in exchange for shrugging off Washington’s screw-over of the French economy? There isn’t much.
Likewise, in the run-up to the Ukraine conflict, Macron should have known better than to follow along with Washington’s dangerous game. He had every opportunity to adopt an independent stance amid Washington’s arming, training, and supporting of Ukraine and its brazenly anti-Russian stance that had already resulted in sanctioning the Russian-German Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline construction to the detriment of 40% of Europe’s gas supply.
As holder of the six-month rotating Council of Europe presidency, Macron sat on his hands and zipped his mouth as the EU attempted to crush Russia with sanctions, blocked Moscow’s foreign reserves, and cut it off from the global banking system. He then stood idly by while the EU quashed media outside of the heavily state-subsidized or corporate-consolidated press, thereby reducing the chance that light would be shined on the potential nefarious consequences for the French people of such actions.
Macron has reacted to Russia’s demand that Europe pay in rubles for its gas, as a result of financial troubles imposed by the West. In a telephone call, he spoke to Vladimir Putin, the Russian president. “that it was not possible for Western gas clients to pay their bills in roubles,” according to Reuters.
Macron now faces a time crunch because of Russian gas being used in France to produce everything, from car fuel to industrial production. Will the French people re-elect him in April before or after they realize how badly Macron’s failure to stand up to America has effectively sanctioned French citizens? Macron had earlier announced that he would be proposing a solution for “food vouchers to help the most modest households and the middle class families to cope with the additional costs”Due to the war-related inflation of food and fuel costs.
What’s next? How about bread lines or rationing? These sanctions clearly don’t benefit the French people, so why did Macron not dial down the belligerence by standing up to Washington when it was cheerleading Ukrainians as proxies for its anti-Russian belligerence? He should have known from the submarine deal screw-over that Washington is always looking out for itself, even if it’s to the detriment of Europe.
It’s still not too late for Macron to make his mark on history in the way that de Gaulle did. Macron could make a public call to the EU for the lifting of Russian sanctions, given the suffering they’re causing to his people and their industry. This would allow him to push Ukraine to solve its problems and refuse to encourage or support any NATO aggression or interference. Macron could take such a bold and independent stance in favour of European independence and French leadership.
Statements, opinions and views expressed in this column do not reflect those of RT.