Archive for the ‘Europe’ Category
MacShane Against Western Interventions.
Under the headline, “L’interventionnisme militaire occidental est un échec permanent” Denis MacShane former European Minister under Tony Blair attacks Western interventions. (Le Monde 10.12.2013).
MacShane begins by citing Kipling on the ‘White Man’s burden and reflects that President Hollande is now taking on this weight with his intervention in the Central African Republic.
While wishing him success he notes that,
Depuis l’expédition de Suez en 1956, aucune intervention militaire menée par les forces européennes en dehors de l’Europe n’a obtenu les résultats espérés. Dans tous les pays où elles ont établi une présence, elles laissent derrière elles plus de problèmes que de solutions.
From the Suez Expedition in 1956 onwards no European military intervention – outside Europe itself – has achieved the aims set for it. In every country in which it has established a presence it has left behind it more problems than solutions.
MacShane covers the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, and reflects that “Le droit d’ingérence et la doctrine de l’intervention sont des concepts qui remontent à l’ère de Francis Fukayama et sa thèse sur la fin de l’histoire.”, the doctrine of the need to interfere and to intervene (Note, called humanitarian intervention in English) are concepts which belong to the time of Francis Fukayma, and his theory of the End of History. Bernard Kouchner in Paris, Michael Ignatieff at Harvard and Tony Blair argued that this was necessary when countries ignored United Nations norms.
He asserts that interventions failed in Sudan and Rwanda, though worked in Kosovo.
Because of the latter, and the intervention in Sierra Leone, Blair backed the invasion of Iraq.
MacShane observes that far from being just the decision of Bush and Blair 419 left’ MPs in the British Parliament voted for that war.
“Dix ans plus tard, je préfère dire comme Benjamin Franklin que « la pire des paix vaut mieux que n’importe quelle guerre ».
Ten years later I’d rather say, like Benjamin Franklin that “the worst peace is better than any war whatsoever.”
The balance sheet of wars in Afghanistan, the Arab world and in Africa is completely negative. Libya in particular is a disaster, with militias and Salafist warlords in control.
The attitude of the British Labour Party, under Ed Miliband, towards these expeditions, has also changed. They refused to support Prime Minister Cameron, and the French Socialist-led Government, to meddle in the Syrian civil war.
The disgraced former Minister then quotes Churchill, “« Jaw jaw is better than war war »
Sometimes such interventions are justified, as in Sierra Leone.
But while every country should back its army, rare are the occasions when history justifies armed interventions.
MacShane Parliamentary Record.
- Voted very strongly for the Iraq war.
- Voted very strongly against an investigation into the Iraq war.
Wikipedia says of MacShane, “Denis MacShane (born Denis Matyjaszek; 21 May 1948) is a former British Labour Party politician who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Rotherham from 1994 until his resignation in 2012. He served in the Labour Government as Minister for Europe from 2002 until 2005.
On 2 November 2012, he was suspended from the Labour Party after the House of Commons Standards and Privileges Committee found that he had submitted 19 false invoices “plainly intended to deceive” the parliamentary expenses authority. Later that day he announced his intention to resign as MP for Rotherham. On 9 October 2013, MacShane was removed from the Privy Council and stripped of the right to use the title of The Right Honourable. On 18 November 2013 he pleaded guilty to false accounting at the Old Bailey, by submitting false receipts for £12 900.
On Sunday Jean-Luc Mélenchon marched with Bercy Pierre Moscovici. Co-Chair of the Left Party (PG) and Pierre Laurent, national secretary of the French Communist Party (PCF), heading the procession the Left Front for a “revolution in taxation” and against the planned increase of VAT on the 1 st January.
Apart from the Front de Gauche (FdG), Le Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste, Lutte ouvrière and some Greens (EE-LV) took part.
In wintry conditions, the demonstration (reports indicate) essentially mobilised members of the FdG. According to Parti de gauche (PG), 100 000 people were present, this was 70 000 for the (PCF). The Police total was 7 000. Le Monde.
Pictures of the march in L’Humanité here.
On factor motivating the marchers was a wish not to let the streets be dominated by the ‘Poujadist ‘ anti-government demonstrations of the Breton ‘bonnets rouges’ and the lorry driver bosses who were out this morning protesting against ‘eco-taxes’.
The character of the bonnets rouges can be seen in the placard held by the demonstrator below,
It reads, “France, a paradise for the skivers, fraudsters, and criminals, Hell for the hard-working. We say, Merde to Europe and Merde! to that France.”
The Front de Gauche will hold further unitary actions in the coming January.
Imperium. Perry Anderson. Critical Thoughts. New Left Review. No82 (New Series) 2013.
“American capitalism has resoundingly re-asserted its primacy in all fields – economic, political, military and cultural – with an unprecedented eight-year boom.”
Perry Anderson. Renewals. 2000.
“(New Left Review’s Relaunch)…scandalised many by demanding from the left a lucid registration of defeat ‘No collective agency able to match the power of capital is yet on the horizon’ Anderson noted……These judgements stand.”
Susan Watkins. Shifting Sands. 2010.
“In contrast to the economic structure, the political structure cannot be expanded indefinitely, because it is not based upon the productivity of man, which is indeed, unlimited. Of all forms of government and organisations of people, the nation-state is least suited for unlimited growth because the genuine consent at its base cannot be stretched indefinitely.”
Hannah Arendt. The Origins of Totalitarianism. (1)
The “unprecedented” American boom ended in Autumn 2008. But despite the absence of what Anderson has called an “answer to the prolonged slow-down of the advanced capitalist economies that set in forty years ago” America remains, post Soviet Collapse, the uncontested, hegemonic, global authority. (2) American power reaches outwards across the globe. This is not just grounded on the attraction of its economic strength, cultural appeal, or technological advances. An active exercise of domination is at work.
Within this received wisdom on the left, the Special Issue of New Left Review, Imperium, sets out to present the “outlook and continuity of objectives” of the “administration of empire, the thinking behind this rule. It also aims to “asses” this vast field, centring on what is decidedly not a “poverty of strategic theory.”
To former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, writing in 1997, U.S policy goals must be “to perpetuate America’s own dominate position for at least generation and preferably longer still; and to create a geopolitical framework” that can evolve into “shared responsibility for peaceful global management.” (3) By contrast, for Anderson, in 2002 the US’s objectives unfurling before the rather less peaceable invasion of Iraq, were described as part of a “structural shift in the balance between force and consent within the operation of American hegemony…” (4)
The present study is only the latest, then, of Anderson’s efforts to understand the leading role of America in what David Harvey has labelled the “new imperialism” and the global dominance of neo-liberalism. Following indications signalled by Robert Brenner he looks further into history to explain the particular form that the American state has taken. Imperium begins by stating, “Since the Second World War, the external order of American power has been largely insulated from the internal political system.” The focus is therefore on the “narrow foreign-policy elite, and a “distinctive ideological vocabulary” of “grand strategy.” (5)
Imperium concludes with, and starts from, the following historical narrative, “In the course of four decades of unremitting struggle, a military and political order was constructed that transformed what had once been a merely hemispheric hegemony into a global empire, remoulding the form of the US state itself” (Page 110 Imperium) Included in the Special Issue is a study of the above American “literature of grand strategy”, Consilium. We discover (to no particular surprise) that it is soldered around the idea that the “hegemony of the United States continues to serve both the particular interests of the nation and the universal interest of mankind” (Consilium Page 163)
These were the long years of the global fight against the Soviet Union. For Anderson the USA, he concedes, graciously or not, “was indeed an electoral democracy, did confront a socio-political system that was not” (Page 33 Imperium). During those decades the country has witnessed domestic opposition to “imperial force”. This, volatile, “constraint”, the limited “public tolerance” of foreign expeditions (we immediately think of the aftermath of Vietnam) has played a role. It continues to shape the decisions of the Obama administration. (Page 108. Imperium)
But behind this is there is, as he has commented on the second Obama Presidential victory an “all-capitalist ideological universe – a mental firmament in which the sanctity of private property and superiority of private enterprise are truths taken for granted by all forces in the political arena.” The Democrat President cannot ignore the culture that feeds Obama’s Republican opponents. One feature stands out, a domestic “nationalism peculiar to the United States as the capitalist superpower in the struggle with communism, intensely more hyperbolic than that of any Western society.” (6)
Outside this native soil there is little alive that is capable of offering a serious political challenge to policies dictated by the “new regime of accumulation” and the “liberal-capitalist order”. Gloomily in 2002 he talked of ‘resistance’ as “chaff in the wind.” In 2007 Anderson had a brief flicker of hope in “spectacular demonstrations of popular will” the World Social Forums in the first half of the last decade, and a “patchwork of resistance”. But they could not halt, “a further drift to the right” as a “new Concert of powers has increasingly solidified.” (7) Read the rest of this entry »
2 of the 6 far-right party leaders in new alliance.
The Guardian reported yesterday,
Two of Europe‘s leading far-right populists struck a pact on Wednesday to build a continental alliance to wreck the European parliament from within, and slay “the monster in Brussels”.
Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s rightwing nationalist Front National, and Geert Wilders, the Dutch maverick anti-Islam campaigner, announced they were joining forces ahead of European parliament elections next year to seek to exploit the euroscepticism soaring across the EU after four years of austerity, and the financial and debt crisis.
A better informed report has appeared in Libération,
According to our sources, the Euro MPs from the French National Front, the Vlaams Belang (Belgium), PVV (Netherlands, Geert Wilders’ party), the Northern League (Italy), the Swedish Democrats and the Freedom Party (Austria) held a first working meeting on Thursday, showing they advanced in their union project.
It appears that the FPÖ (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs,) is playing a leading role in this alliance of 6 parties,
The Austrian party has done everything to put an end to the international isolation of the FN, conscious of having in France a real alter ego, both in terms of its electoral potential and its historical background. But they failed to convince the British Eurosceptic party, UKIP or some Scandinavian populist right-wingers, to join them .
Dutch News comements on the alliance between the PW and the FN,
The Volkskrant outlined three key areas in which Wilders and the Front National have different standpoints: on Islam, Israel and gay rights.
While Wilders wants the Koran banned and has called for a kopvoddentaks (head rag tax) for Muslim headscarves, Le Pen says she is not opposed to religion and wants a sharp division between church and a secular French state.
It would be a small sacrifice for Jews to leave their skull caps at home, Le Pen is quoted as saying.
Wilders is a staunch supporter of Israel, and his campaign against Islam is part of this, the paper says. Le Pen, by contrast, has been trying to dispel her party’s reputation for anti-semitism. Her father, who is still the party’s honorary chairman, has described the World War II gas chambers as a ‘minor point’ in history.
Le Pen was also quiet during the recent uproar in France over gay marriage, although her party was well represented at anti-gay marriage demonstrations, the Volkskrant states.
Wilders, however, has made support for gay rights central to his anti-Islam campaigning.
Reuters adds (as does the Guardian),
The anti-mass immigration UK Independence Party (UKIP) of Nigel Farage reaffirmed it would not ally with Le Pen’s party.
“It’s cut and dry. There isn’t going to be any alliance with the Front National and we’re not going to sit in the same parliamentary group as them in the European Parliament,” a UKIP spokesman said.
It is generally expected that all these far-right anti-immigration, anti-EU parties will do well in next year’s European elections.
Some consider that UKIP has to do practically nothing to get a massive vote.
“Maligne comme un singe”, French Far-right Weekly Goes New Depths to Insult Minister Christiane Taubira.
Far-right Weekly says of French Minister of Justice, “ Maligne comme un singe, Taubira retrouve la banane”, Crafty (malignant) as a Monkey. Taubira gets her banana back.
Minute (Wikipedia entry in English) is widely available in French kiosks and newsagents.
It is not a minuscule circulation journal only sold by far-right activists.
The French Socialist-led Government has immediately reacted.
Le parquet de Paris a ouvert une enquête pour injure publique à caractère racial, après que le premier ministre Jean-Marc Ayrault a saisi le procureur de la République de Paris au sujet de la “une” de l’hebdomadaire d’extrême droite Minute. “Nous ne pouvons pas laisser passer cela”, avait-il ajouté, en dénonçant une “une” “révoltante”.
The Paris Prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation for public racial insult, after Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault took the case to the the prosecutor of Paris. The object of the inquiry is the front page of the far-right weekly Minute. “We can not let this go “ , he added, denouncing a this front page as “shocking” . Le Monde.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, co-president of the Parti de gauche tweeted, “Ils n’ont donc pas de limites. C’est même à ça qu’on les reconnaît. Pas une Minute à perdre. Les nazes en cage”. There are no limits,. There’s not a Minute to lose: put the Nazis in a cage.
The Economic Times reports,
In the last month alone, Taubira has twice been publicly compared to a monkey, once by a group of children whose parents had taken them on a protest against gay marriage and once by an electoral candidate of the far right National Front (FN), who wrote on her Facebook page that she would prefer to see the minister “swinging from the branches rather than in government”.
Taubira said those incidents were the tip of the iceberg in terms of the hostility she has encountered since being named to one of the top four posts in the Socialist government that took office last year.
“I’ve been getting monkey and banana insults for a long time but there is also something more subtle going on that nobody has highlighted,” she said.
By way of example, the minister noted how the opponents of gay marriage had targeted her personally rather than the government as a whole and had emphasised the “Frenchness” of the protest movement.
She also pointed to the outspoken reactions that her initial appointment had provoked. These included Jean-Francois Cope, one of the leaders of the main opposition party, warning centre-right voters that: “If you vote for the FN, you get the Left and you get Taubira.”
Taubira’s concern over a perceived increase in racism — or the acceptability of racism — in French society,echoes recent warnings by various rights groups and social commentators.
Taubira is a much loved person.
This is an utter utter disgrace.
But before the British media gets hot under the collar about this we should recall that France has no equivalent of the British Daily Mail, the Express, the Star and the Sun.
In the overwhelming majority of the French newspapers there is no daily stream of stories aimed against migrants, asylum seekers, benefit claimants and trade unions.
Indeed in most respects Minute, whose readership is tiny compared to the British hard-right press, resembles these papers more than they will admit.