France 24 hosted a really interesting discussion today about laicite, that included an American working in France and delved into the crucial difference in the two countries' definition. That same channel interviewed Franz Walter Steinmeier, a prominent German Social Democrat who was Angela Merkel's Vice Chancellor from 2007-2009. He appears from time to time on European news channels when they want to present a knowledgable and balanced progressive opinion, and today he expressed the dominant European view of the Ukraine crisis, which is that Kiev should not be given weapons, as Washington is eager to do. France24 news covered President Hollande's twice yearly news conference at which he announced an ambitious plan to tackle radical Islam and Islamophobia that starts in kindergarten, involves immigrant families, and culminates in a 'national service' program for adults.[tag]
These various news items are strongly linked. The really big news on France 24 is the plan for resolving the crisis in Ukraine drafted by France and Germany, to be presented today in Kiev and tomorrow in Moscow. As John Kerry stood side by side at a press conference with 'Yats' repeating accusations of a Russian invasion (with Yats offering his glasses to anyone who cannot see the tanks supposedly rolling across the border), Merkel and Hollande were on their way to succeed him, both literally and figuratively. The leaders of Europe's two major powers appear to have made up their minds that the US engineered coup in Ukraine (as in Nuland's 'f*ck the EU!') is threatening Europe's survival, and hence that the time has come for them to declare their independence from Washington once and for all. The coupling of Hollande's domestic plan to counter both the Islamic threat and the threat to France's Islamic community (a threat which is mirrored in Germany) with the French/German plan for Ukraine suggests they have come to the realization that the American coup in Ukraine failed to take into account Europe's real threat, which is not Russia, but Islam, after decades of poor immigration and assimilation policies vis a vis Africa and the Middle East.
Those of us who have despaired of Europe's post-war passivity have seen in Syriza's electoral victory in Greece a sign that the left is at last coming to life again. But until Europe cuts the umbilical cord with Washington, a reinvigorated left will achieve little. The EU/US alliance could have gone on indefinitely as long as it was about jointly running the rest of the world (with Europe as a very junior partner). But as illustrated by the linked arms and grim faces of Europe's leaders after the Charlie massacres, Europe realizes that its survival is now threatened, not by Russia or China, but from within, and not only by banksters, but by neighbor turning against neighbor in mutual fear and mistrust.
I recommend following today's and tomorrow's meetings in Kiev and Moscow on France 24, where Europe's position will be given pride of place, as well as on RT, which will feature the Russian position, as the strands of post-war status quo in Europe begin to be cautiously pulled apart. The American media, meanwhile, continues to headline the 'fear' of the Baltic states of being once again absorbed into a Russia that with its nine time zones, is looking east to China and the lands on its southern rim.
As Hollande and Merkel, the Socialist and the Conservative, embark on their journey to Europe's east, their plan not only excludes Ukraine ever becoming part of NATO. According to France 24, it revives Vladimir Putin's previously rejected suggestion that Ukraine should be allowed to trade both with the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union. The two European leaders arrived in Kiev as the American proconsul was leaving.