French political establishment nice to neo-fascist Jean-Marie Le Pen

This AFP news agency video says about itself:

France’s Le Pen insists Nazi death camps were ‘detail’

25 March 2009

French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen caused a storm in the EU parliament Wednesday by insisting that the Nazi death camps were a “detail of second world war history”.

By Francis Dubois in France:

French ruling class promotes memoirs of neo-fascist Jean-Marie Le Pen

9 March 2018

When on March 1, bookstores started selling the memoirs of Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of the neo-fascist National Front (FN) and father of its current leader Marine Le Pen, the French corporate media largely moved to promote the book. A vast operation to rehabilitate the Nazi-collaborationist Vichy regime, to defend torture and the crimes of French imperialism in Algeria and to downplay the Holocaust is underway.

The book was published by a small ultra-right publisher, who “shares the national values that are at the heart of Jean-Marie Le Pen’s political activity” according to one of its representatives, but it was the mass media that was tasked with promoting it—publishing large extracts of the book and interviewing its author.

The extracts they cited present the pro-Vichy former supporter of the Algerian-colonialist Organisation armée secrète (OAS), a fanatical anti-communist and founder of France’s principal far-right party, as a credible political commentator on events after World War II.

Newspapers and magazines presented as good coin the image that Le Pen gave of himself, as a man of the people, humane and cultured, “who loves poetry”. News magazine Le Point led its issue that week with this subject, calling Le Pen a “born storyteller about himself [who] seeks to reveal, over the course of many pages, a personality the general public does not know, more humane, more romantic, less hysterical.” The newspaper Le Parisien hailed the memoirs as “a story with the allure of a picaresque novel, where he particularly stresses his military adventures, even if he sometimes dresses them up a bit.”

A politician who led a parachutist unit that tortured countless people during the Algerian war, who specializes in historical falsification, anti-Semitism and denials of the crimes of the Nazis, and who was repeatedly convicted in the courts due to these views, is now presented as an “honest man” or even a “son of the people”. What is taking place?

It is impossible to answer this question without understanding the current political needs of French imperialism, and above all the international degeneration of capitalism.

As the French financial aristocracy builds a new Franco-German military axis around a policy of neo-colonial war in the Middle East and great-power conflict, it is forced to rehabilitate even the most extreme expressions of nationalism and militarism—Vichy and the colonial war in Algeria. In order to prepare the next wars it is planning, and overcome the opposition of a population deeply disillusioned with war, it must falsify the history of its past crimes.

This is why the memoirs of Le Pen, hailing the colonial army and its methods, defending Nazi-collaborationist forces and falsifying history, finds such a warm response in official media.

Just as German professors are excusing and minimizing the Nazi crimes of the World War II era to rehabilitate Hitler and militarism, the French bourgeoisie is trying to whitewash its participation in the Holocaust as well as its crimes against the people of the countries it colonized.

Le Pen’s memoirs are full of hymns to the glory of French imperialism in Indochina (i.e., Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia) and Algeria, which he fully defends. Already in 1960, long before he founded the FN in 1972, as the OAS stepped up its terrorist activities in Algeria, as well as within France itself, Le Pen had founded the “National Front for a French Algeria.”

Le Point, which is close to the current government of President Emmanuel Macron, quoted without any critical comments Le Pen’s cynical legitimization of the large-scale use of torture by the French army in Algeria: “People spoke of torture. Those who carried it out were denounced. The French army was coming back from Indochina. There it had seen horrific violence that went beyond what could be imagined, and made pulling people’s fingernails out seem almost humane. … Our job was to put an end to the horror. … So yes, the French army indeed used interrogation methods to obtain information during the battle of Algiers, but the methods it used were the least violent possible … there was nothing that touched people’s physical integrity.”

Another theme of Le Pen to which Le Point gives a pass is the defense of the Vichy regime and collaboration with the Third Reich. Echoing the post-war myth that Vichy leader Marshal Philippe Pétain collaborated because he wanted to “protect” the French people, Le Pen insists that the Pétain regime was “legal and legitimate, it made a normal and binding agreement with the Reich.”

He continues, “The Marshal [Pétain] had the enormous responsibility of getting by [with the surrender to the Nazis] to allow his forty million fellow citizens to survive. … One can then discuss the collaboration policy, its errors, its excesses, that is fine as long as everyone’s errors and excesses are examined, too, but it does not change what I have described.”

Le Pen’s remarks show how the FN and Jean-Marie Le Pen speak for broad sections of the French bourgeoisie that ardently supported Nazism and still did so after World War II—though they could not speak openly in the face of deep anti-fascist sentiment in the working class. Today, as they move to spend hundreds of billions of euros on war and slash social programs for the working class, these forces feel they can safely venerate their political ancestors.

The FN, founded in 1972, is directly descended from the French Popular Party (PPF) of Jacques Doriot, one of the pillars of the collaboration. Among the FN’s initial leaders were Victory Barthélemy, the former PPF general secretary whose participation in the Rafle du Vél d’Hiv mass round-up of Jews for deportation is well documented, and who became the FN’s first general secretary. The FN leadership embraced other ex-PPF figures, including André Dufraisse, a member of the Legion of French Volunteers against Bolshevism (LVF), which went to fight in the Nazi war of annihilation against the Soviet Union.

Another associate of Le Pen was Paul Malaguti, the “killer of Cannes” who worked for the Gestapo in Cannes and later took care of the FN’s finances. Other founding FN members include Henry Coston, who launched the Anti-Jewish Youth movement in 1930 and an explicitly pro-Nazi party in 1933; François Brigneau of the fascist National Popular Rally of Marcel Déat; and the former Waffen-SS member Pierre Bousquet, the FN’s first treasurer.

Another stock-in-trade of the former FN leader is Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic statements. In the interviews Le Pen gave about the publication of his book, he again asserted that the gas chambers in the Nazi death camps were a “detail of history”, statements for which he has repeatedly been convicted. He has also cynically declared in an interview that he “might maybe recognize that the Holocaust happened” in the second volume of his memoirs, but that he felt no need to apologize for his previous statements: “I will not ask for forgiveness to anyone. I feel compassion for those who suffered, as I did also, of the war.”

By favorably quoting Le Pen’s remarks, Le Point and broad swathes of the French bourgeois media are doing their part to rehabilitate the crimes of French imperialism and the Vichy regime during World War II, which the French financial aristocracy sees as a critical priority. Class-conscious workers and youth will reject these attempts with contempt, and see in them a warning as to the reactionary policies French imperialism is preparing today.

More German, French neocolonial wars

This video says about itself:

Germany sends second batch of Afghan refugees to Kabul

24 January 2017

Deported after years of living in Germany, 26 young Afghans arrived in Kabul with only one thought in mind: fleeing this war-torn country.

By Johannes Stern in Germany:

Germany: Grand coalition expands foreign operations in Afghanistan and Iraq

8 March 2018

The incoming grand coalition government is preparing a massive expansion of Bundeswehr (Armed Forces) operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan. No sooner had the membership of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) voted for the continuation of the government alliance with the Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) than the expansion plans were announced.

On Wednesday the caretaker government decided to increase the previous upper troop limit in Afghanistan by about one-third, and send up to 1,300 soldiers to the central Asian country in future. According to reports, the Bundestag (parliament) should agree to this by the end of March.

By Francis Dubois in France:

After Burkina Faso bombing, France pledges to step up war in Sahel

8 March 2018 …

GSIM [Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims] was created by a merger in March 2017 between several Islamist movements including Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Ansar Dine and Al Mourabitoun, which were able to spread across the Sahel region after NATO backed Islamist militias in its 2011 war in Libya to topple Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. This war devastated the oil-rich country and divided it into zones dominated by rival warlords in shifting alliances with on various imperialist powers. Its consequences went on to destabilize the entire Sahel.

Libya now has become an internment zone for countless thousands of refugees who are locked up in European Union-sponsored camps in horrific conditions, tortured or even sold as slaves.

Macron’s reaction makes quite clear that Paris is preparing a new intensification of the war it has been waging across its former colonial empire with conditional assistance from Washington. This region, whose surface is as large as Europe’s, is rich in mineral and energy resources that Paris and the EU consider to be essential to the profits of European transnational corporations. This war policy led to street protests against Macron’s visit in Ouagadougou on November 27, the day before the Abidjan summit announced an intensification of France’s war in the region.

Like the other European powers, Paris sees the militarization of the Sahel was an important way to stop the flood of refugees who want to cross the Mediterranean. In January, the German parliament voted to increase from 350 to 1,000 the number of German soldiers deployed to the region, making Mali the largest foreign deployment of the German army.

United States Republicans invite French racist

This 29 April 2017 video says about itself:

Is France’s National Front still fascist? – UpFront (Reality Check)

Marine Le Pen, who recently resigned temporarily as leader of the National Front (FN), is now facing off against centrist Emmanuel Macron for France’s top spot.

Though she has stepped down temporarily, she remains a member of the FN, a party founded by her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, and a former Vichy Nazi, Leon Gaultier, which now supports her candidacy.

So has the party changed at all? In this week’s Reality Check, we examine whether the party has shed its fascist past.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

CPAC 2018: Far-right politician Marion Maréchal-Le Pen to address conservative conference after Mike Pence

Moderate Republicans express concern at far right leader’s invite

Lucy Pasha-Robinson

Tuesday 20 February 2018 12:54 GMT

The niece of French far right leader Marine Le Pen has been invited to address American Republicans at an annual Conservative conference in Washington.

Marion Marechal-Le Pen will take to the stage shortly after Vice President Mike Pence at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference.

President Donald Trump will also speak at the convention and former UKIP leader Nigel Farage will be in attendance.

Ms Marechal-Le Pen’s presence has nonetheless sparked divisions, with some moderate Republicans cautious about associating with a far-right figure.

Breitbart editor Raheem Kassam wrote on Twitter: “Brilliant that Marion Marechal-Le Pen is speaking at CPAC. Even more amazing that the RINOs (Republican In Name Only) are *FREAKING OUT*.” …

​The former youth star of the French far-right, and granddaughter of Front National founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, is known for being more religious and socially conservative than her aunt.

The 27-year-old has also been billed by many as a potential future leader of the Front National party, which her aunt still heads.

See also here.

French President Macron wants more militarism

This video says about itself:

Macron Leans Further Right as His Popularity Tanks

7 October 2017

As French President Emmanuel Macron continues his push for a stronger EU, it’s becoming ‘very clear that his agenda is a traditionally right-wing, pro-business agenda‘, says author and journalist Laura Raim.

By Alex Lantier in France:

French President Macron calls for the draft and threatens strikes on Syria

15 February 2018

On Tuesday night, at a meeting of the French presidential press association, Emmanuel Macron called for a return of the draft and threatened possible air strikes in Syria, a former French colony. Coming only days after a US bombing killed dozens of Russian military contractors in Syria and Israel struck targets in Syria, this constitutes an unambiguous warning of the danger of world war.

It also exposes the character of the German-French axis that Macron is trying to assemble with a potential “Grand Coalition” government between conservatives and social democrats in Berlin. It aims to convert Europe into an aggressive militarist bloc, sending youth to kill or be killed in imperialist wars involving all the major world powers.

“I want obligatory service, open to women and to men, [that provides] an insight into military matters”, Macron declared, repeating a campaign pledge made last year to return to the draft. He added that the length of service could be “between three to six months, but that is not yet fixed.”

As he did when first calling for the draft during his 2017 presidential campaign, Macron cynically tried to downplay its significance, claiming that the draft could have a “civic” component. That is, conscripted youth might also end up patrolling cities in France, as soldiers did during the recent, two-year state of emergency. However, Macron himself admitted in his 2017 speech on the draft that it is also in preparation for major wars, saying: “We have entered an epoch in international relations where war is again a possible outcome of politics.”

On Tuesday night, Macron said he was ready to launch air strikes on Syria, as the media whipped up a campaign around unsubstantiated US allegations that the Syrian government used chlorine gas. A campaign had erupted in the French press accusing Macron of forgetting the “red line” he set in his UN speech last September, pledging to attack Syria if France or its allies declare that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons in the ongoing NATO war in the country.

“If [France] has reliable evidence that banned chemical weapons are being used against civilians, we will strike”, he said. “We will strike the places where these weapons are being used and where their use is organized. The red line will be respected.”

Macron added that he was in close contact with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, to send warnings and threats to the Syrian regime. “I repeated this to President Putin, asking him to be very clear with the Syrian regime, which has reaffirmed that it is not using chemical weapons. … But we are watching it”, Macron said, adding: “As soon as the proof is established, I will do what I said.”

Should Macron launch these strikes, this would be an unprovoked act of war by France against its former colony, abetted by the other NATO powers, threatening to provoke war with Russia. The attempt to justify it based on unverified US allegations of poison gas use stinks of a provocation. Previous such claims, including poison gas attacks in Ghouta in 2013 and Khan Shaykhun in 2017, proved to be provocations, where NATO-backed Islamist militias staged gas attacks that they blamed on the regime in order to provide a pretext for NATO attacks on Syria.

This follows German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen’s trip to Iraq last weekend to announce an escalation of the German military presence there, and the publication last week of the program of a proposed “Grand Coalition” government in Berlin.

A key plank of the program is collaboration with France on trade, military and Middle East policy. Von der Leyen and her French counterpart, Florence Parly, are set to jointly open the Munich Security Conference this weekend, in a show of Franco-German military unity.

Macron’s discussion of an attack on Syria underscores that the Berlin-Paris axis is preparing a vast expansion of European military aggression, with explosive global consequences. Over the 25 years since the Stalinist regime dissolved the USSR, removing the main military counterweight to imperialist war, US imperialism has consistently sought to counterbalance its growing economic weakness by resorting to war and the use of its military advantages.

This culminated in the unveiling last month of a US National Defense Strategy that brands Russia and China, both major nuclear-armed powers, as Washington’s principal enemies.

Over the same period, Paris has pursued an ever more bellicose foreign policy. Besides fighting wars in its former African colonial empire, it repeatedly joined US-led wars–in 1991 against Iraq, in 2001 in Afghanistan, and the 2011 wars in Libya and then Syria–despite clashing with Washington over its 2003 invasion of Iraq. Under Macron, it is stepping up this offensive, while handing over billions of euros in tax cuts to the rich and financing these reactionary policies with deep social cuts aimed at the working class.

What is emerging is an explosive political collapse of the world capitalist system that threatens workers across Europe and the world with catastrophic consequences. It involves not only NATO conflicts with Russia and China, but the eruption of barely concealed differences between the NATO powers, which fought world wars between rival alliances twice in the 20th century.

Macron’s remarks Tuesday night pointed in particular to significant differences emerging between Washington and the Berlin-Paris axis over Russia and the Middle East.

Firstly, despite his bellicose threats against Syria, Macron ruled out an immediate strike and indicated his distrust of US allegations of Syrian poison gas use. “But today we do not have proof, established by our intelligence services, that chemical weapons banned by treaty have been used against civilian populations”, he said.

This begs the question of why Macron reacted to these unverified allegations, which he himself apparently does not trust, by threatening to bomb Syria.

Secondly, according to the business daily Les Echos, Macron called for dealing with the Syrian war by developing closer ties with Russia and opening “a dialog with the three member states of the ‘Astana process,’ that is, Iran, Turkey, and Russia.” This seems to place Macron on a very different course than the US National Defense Strategy and the US bombing of Russian contractors in Syria. It followed Macron’s cordial February 9 phone call with Putin, in which he also called for stepped-up trade and political collaboration with the Kremlin.

According to an Elysée palace communiqué, during this phone call, Macron congratulated Putin on “the dynamic of our bilateral relations since the Versailles meeting on May 29,” and noted that, “Our political exchanges are regular and ongoing.” It also hailed the ongoing development of relations between French and Russian “economic and cultural forces, thinkers and youth.”

Finally, Macron hailed the “permanent dialog” now ongoing between France and Turkey, who Macron said earlier this month had “reassured” him about its invasion of Syria to attack Kurdish forces. By contrast, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived yesterday for crisis talks in Turkey, whose Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu warned that its alliance with Washington could “break completely” over US support for Kurdish forces in Syria

These European-American differences again erupted into the open around yesterday’s NATO defense ministers’ summit in Brussels. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned that it would be “absolutely without any meaning if NATO and the EU start to compete.”

US Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison warned of a potential break-up of military relations between the United States and Europe over plans led by Berlin and Paris for European military cooperation. She said, “Certainly we do not want this to be a protectionist vehicle for the EU and we’re going to watch carefully because if that becomes the case then it could splinter the strong security alliance that we have. We want the Europeans to have capabilities and strength but not to fence off American products or Norwegian products or potentially UK products.”

As French President Emmanuel Macron called for a return to the draft and air strikes against Syria last week, he was also pushing to expand Europe’s role in the war drive in Asia. Under Trump, Washington has intensified its efforts to build up India as a counterweight to China in the Indian Ocean—Beijing’s lifeline for Persian Gulf oil and the pivotal channel for trade in manufactured products between Europe and Asia. France is also escalating its military relations with India and plotting to expand its role in the Indian Ocean. With Paris working with Berlin to transform the European Union into a military machine, France’s strategic thrust into South Asia and the Indian Ocean region must be taken as a warning regarding the size of the European imperialist powers’ appetites and the scope of the wars they are preparing behind the backs of the population: here.

WHEN Sweden brought back conscription at the start of this year, it was a direct response to rising tension in the Baltic region and the difficulty of recruiting soldiers. Now France, too, is debating the reintroduction of military service, which the country used to require of all young men until it was abolished by the Gaullist President Jacques Chirac in 1997. Unlike in Sweden, however, it is far from clear what the point in France would be: here.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s four-day visit to India last week highlighted the growing military build-up and drive towards war taking place internationally. Even as French officials and media called for war in Syria and backed Britain’s calls for suspending diplomatic relations with Russia after the unclarified poisoning of British spy Sergei Skripal, Macron was drawing France and Europe into the maelstrom in Asia: here.