Geopolitical Notes From India
M D Nalapat
TO paraphrase Marx and Engels, a spectre is haunting Europe: the surging popularity in France of its future Head of State, Marine Le Pen . Given the essentiality of France in the architecture of the present-day European Union, a victory for the statuesque daughter of National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen would drive a stake into the heart of the present EU, forcing the organisation to either dissolve or to re-invent itself. The EU can survive the withdrawal of Britain, which has ever been the outlier in the community, with its interventions often causing more angst than satisfaction amongst its partners.
However, from the 1950s, France has teamed up with Germany to form the foundation of the European experiment, which matured into the formation of the EU in 1993. Since then, the union’s bureaucracy in Brussels has intruded into the policy matrix of each of the 28 countries that form the European Union. This was acceptable to the populations of the richer of the members so long as incomes were increasing and lifestyles improving. However, partly as a consequence of regulatory micromanaging by the EU commissioners, the only West European country that has remained unscathed from East Asian competition has been Germany, which has had the benefit of the Euro being much lower in value than the Deutsche Mark would have been, had Germany gone the way of Britain and retained its own currency.
The addition of hundreds of thousands of settlers more from the Middle East and North Africa on top of the millions already present has alarmed the French, who as a people are proud of their heritage and emancipated lifestyles. Marine Le Pen makes no apologies for being mono-culturally French in a manner that is allergic to North African ways, the way Donald Trump refuses to be defensive about being a uni-cultural American. While such a trait endears them to millions of their fellow countrypersons, it is toxic to “liberals” who believe in the right of refugees and migrants from failed states to live as they please, where they please, and in as great numbers as they can muster. While the same experts who were wrong about the winn-ability of Donald Trump are now forecasting that Le Pen will fade out in the second round of the Presidential elections, when she tees off against either Macron or Fillon.
However, the fact is that Le Pen’s entry into the second round will result in a flocking to her candidature by the many who till then may not have been convinced that the attractive French politician had any chance at winning, and hence did not wish to “waste” their vote on the individual who is today the most popular politician in Europe, eclipsing Angela Merkel after the latter’s Open Door policy towards migration from the Middle East, North Africa and Afghanistan into Germany. This is similar to what happened in the case of Donald Trump, who witnessed a huge tranche of previously Democratic Party voters flock to him after he won the Republican nomination, voters who had previously assumed that Trump had no chance of victory.
That Le Pen may win in May is what is scaring the Wall Street-Atlanticist establishment, who do not wish to see the perquisites enjoyed by them for decades of dysfunctional structures such as the EU Headquarters or NATO vanish in a post-Marine Le Pen, post Geert Wilders reconfiguration of the European experiment. The weapon of choice used by the Atlanticist establishment to try and turn enough French voters away from Le Pen in the final round of the Presidential polls to ensure her defeat is a frenzied attack on Donald Trump. The 45th President of the United States has been subjected to a barrage of abuse from self-certified “civilised” individuals that lacks any parallel in the democratic world since 1945.
While it is the Atlanticist policy of equipping extremists with weapons that is insane, this establishment seeks to call out Donald Trump as unsound and even unstable for refusing to go that route. And while it is plainly China that has emerged as the most potent challenger to US primacy, Atlanticists within the US pander to their European ideological twins ,who continue to demonize Russia as though no change of consequence happened during 1991-97. Should the Trumps, the Wilders and the Le Pens succeed in changing national policies to those more relevant to 2017 than to 1945, the Atlanticist establishment will get replaced by an Indo-Pacific construct.
To prevent such a change, they are in the battle of their lives, Round One of which was lost on November 8.2016 when Donald Trump got elected as the President of the US. Round Two, involving Marine Le Pen, needs to ensure her defeat if the Old Order and its sinecures is to survive for at least a decade more. And what better way to spook French voters from the National Front than to create a perception of chaos in Washington after the Trump victory and warn that to would be the same in Paris ? That there is no chaos in the Trump presidency, only the usual hurly-burly of a new administration, is not being permitted to stand in the way of the creation of a media frenzy, the core message of which is intended to persuade French, Dutch and other European votes not to go the way of the US in replacing personnel and policies with those better suited to the imperatives of the 21st century.
In particular, Paris, London and Frankfurt are looking to Beijing to bail Athens out of a mega loan default later in the year through China ponying up several hundred billion euro to fill the hole left in European banks by Greek debt. They are looking to China for markets and investment. Hence a manic drumbeat of allegations against Russia, so that China gets spared from public obloquy. A campaign of calumny against Moscow is in effect a silent defence of Beijing, and in such an effort, the UK is in the lead. The EU is also looking for funding for its bankrupt agencies from the Arab powers of the Gulf Cooperation Council, hence the cries to remove Bashar Assad from power, even if presently this benefits Daesh.
The Atlanticists fear to acknowledge that the condition of the EU and several of its institutions is terminal, hence the hysterical attacks on Trump and others unwilling to keep holding on to destructive policies. These accept the verities of the present era that the traditional establishment mislabels as “Fake News”. This threshing about in an abusive frenzy of the circa-1945 Atlantic Alliance establishment will neither result in the removal of President Trump nor slow down the drive towards victory of Marine Le Pen, who will thereupon be joined by other leaders across Europe who recognize that policies based on 20th and even 19th century conditions are valueless and indeed harmful in the 21st.
—The writer is Vice-Chair, Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO Peace Chair & Professor of Geopolitics, Manipal University, Haryana State, India.