As German leaders show their usual no nonsense approach to geo-politics by calling for a European military force independent of NATO, France plays its traditional hesitation waltz
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Hollande and Putin had agreed to get together to talk about Syria on the occasion of Putin coming to Paris to inaugurate a new Orthodox Church and a Russian cultural center. But after Russia vetoed France's UN resolution calling on Putin and Assad to stop bombing Aleppo (in order to force Islamic terrorists out), Holland questioned publicly whether the meeting would be useful, implying that Putin's plans for public appearances in the city of light would not be welcome, only serious discussions about Syria.
The prospect of a Russian president cutting ribbons in Paris has to be intolerable to the US, but we may never know what kind of pressure Washington exerted on France to prevent this from happening. (Once again I am reminded of a document on Italy that crossed my desk in the Carter State Department lamenting: "To think we used to run this place"")
The evidence is clear from France 24's coverage of the incident, with hawkish analyst Doug Herbert obediently playing the Western media's tune: "While the West are not angels, the onus is on Putin, who stokes an anti-West discourse, claiming that 'the West is plotting against us, we are encircled by enemies', as Russian planes fly ever closer to NATO territory, and it deploys nuclear capable missiles in Kaliningrad."(Russia's enclave on the Baltic, next to the Baltic states)", dutifully omitting to mention that these countries are hosting NATO forces in full fighting mode on their territories, but admitting that "France needs Russia as an ally on many issues".
Hollande's hissy fit is part of the socialist party's descent into obedient neo-liberalism, leaving the way open for the National Front to cosy up to Russia on the strength of their mutual conviction that assimilation of Muslim refugees doesn't work - or at the very least for Nicholas Sarkozy to return to the Elysee with the same convictions.
What is at stake here is nothing less than the future of Europe. Will it ultimately dare to cut its umbilical cord with the US, as Washington-imposed sanctions against Russia continue to cut into its economy, or are we seeing the opposite of the nineteen-thirties failure to halt Hitler's aggressions, the current aggressor residing on the other side of the Atlantic?