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TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.

Articles on France after 2005
Goodbye, French Republic
Iter: why France?
And, after destroying France, he went on to destroy the European Union
Do not celebrate the French invasions
A nuclear present for France, a nuclear future for the world
The most dangerous man in the world
How the USA makes France a world power
Why France is France
Irresponsible France and Germany
Chirac sells out France to China
How did Arafat die?
France's pro-Palestinian policy
How France is trying to win the peace
The French mind
Chirac vs Sharon
Banning headscarves in France
How France lost the war
Chirac's arrogance again
France wipes out the main Iranian dissident movement
The losers: France, Germany and Russia
Chirac teaches the USA a lesson in political strategy
The pact of steel between Chirac and Saddam
The pursuit of justice or the return or anti-semitism?
The real problem is Chirac, not Saddam
The geopolitics of France
A national disaster
France and the death penalty
Iraq commands and France obeys

  • (November 2005) Goodbye, French Republic. France has been sick for a long time. The Chirac presidency has been the lowest point of post-war French history, and it looks like it has not touched the bottom yet.
    The riots that spread throughout France (and that, coincidence or not, came just a few months after voters rejected the European constitution wanted by their president) are senseless if one looks at the facts as the French see them: France is by far the most Islam-friendly country in Europe and provides by far the best welfare system to its citizens. Dozens of programs have been created by this and the previous president to help the poorer suburbs.
    So why did the riots happen in France and not in Germany, Italy or Britain, where the conditions of African immigrants are much worse, discrimination runs much deeper and social programs are much weaker?
    French sociologist Fabien Jobard said: "If we had not had this policy in place, maybe the riots would have happened 15 years ago." in other words: the current conditions are not the cause of the riots, they are what kept the riots from starting 15 years ago. The cause is another one.
    One cause is certainly unemployment. The French social system creates little wealth. It mainly creates unemployment. History shows that people are happier when they are starving but have a job (even better if they own their business) than when they receive an unemployment check from the government for doing nothing all day. That is a factor, but can't be the final answer because Italy boasts an even higher percentage of unemployed youth.
    Social unrest tends to happen when the government is perceived as week. See the American, French, Russian and Chinese revolutions, as well as the 1964 student riots in the USA and the 1968 student riots in France: they all happened when the government had been weakened by scandals or crises or wars. The French government has probably never been so weak since the 1930s: Chirac is discredited by scandals and incompetence (he became president with only 18% of the votes and enjoys one of the lowest approval rates ever recorded in the West); the French voters just rejected a European constitution that was largely the work of the French elite, thus France lost its leadership position within the European Union; prime minister Villepin is the typical remnant of 19th century politics (certainly not a role model of the future) who makes grand speeches with very little substance; the main ministers are bickering all the time among themselves and they are one more incompetent than the other; France is accused by the international community of unfairly supporting its farmers with agricultural subsidies (that starve Africa, but without which it's the French farmers who would starve); and, like it or not, France lost all its international prestige after siding with Saddam Hussein in Iraq (and the average French person probably knows it even if they marched in the streets against the war).
    One can also view these riots as the beginning of the ethnic tensions that are bound to tear western Europe apart. One of the reasons why Europe enjoyed for 60 years the longest period of peace in the last 1,500 years is that the borders decided after WW2 (and related exodus of people) created more homogeneous nations. The exceptions to this rule (such as the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia) are precisely the few hot spots that are left in Europe. As soon as they could, Czechs and Slovakians separated. As Europe dissolved multi-ethnic empires and created pure-race nations, many sources of conflicts disappeared. In other words, Europeans are much more tribal than the USA (where the multi-ethnic aspect is the very fabric of the system). Today we are beginning to see the advent of a new form of multi-ethnic nation in Europe, and France happens to be at the vanguard. As the Muslim population grows faster than the "Aryan" population (sorry to use Hitler's favorite term, but can't find another one to define the "descendants of the Europeans who ruled in those countries for many years except for the Arabs who invaded them and for the Jews who emigrated there and for the descendants of African colonies who are now citizens of those European countries"), the Aryans end up ruling on nations that are less and less homogeneous. In other words, we are moving back to the scenario of the 19th century (which eventually led to WW1).
    All of this creates the perception of a very weak central government, which is probably the truth: in a desperate gesture, Chirac had just replaced an unpopular prime minister, who was guilty of nothing, with a demagogue.
    The French revolution started when the king fired Necker: firing Necker was a pointless action (the problem was Louis XVI not Necker) but gave the people the perception that the government was weak. Chirac fired Raffarin who was not the problem (the problem was Chirac not Raffarin) and gave the people the perception that the government is weak. Is Chirac the new Louis XVI?
    His 11-year reign has been one of the lowest points in French history. If Chirac resigns, the riots might end. If Chirac does not resign, then there might be more riots (or strikes or whatever), this time by the middle class, and then history would repeat itself (with maybe Lepen or someone like him impersonating Robesperierre).
    It is, indeed, the whole of France that lives in denial of its social failures. The French have traditionally looked down on the racial problems in the USA. But compare the two. France has a very low percentage of home and business ownership among immigrants, besides having a very high percentage of unemployment. These people receive a check from the government and live in public homes, and are supposed to be grateful. It is virtually impossible for them to start their own business, very rare that they own a home and difficult to find a job. In the USA they starve much worse than in France (no check from the government), but they have a job (unemployment among immigrants is virtually zero), no matter how poorly paid, and most of them will own a house and their own business before they die, thanks to easy bank loans. The USA system makes them feel part of society and gives them a vested interest in maintaining order (it's their house and their shop). The French system makes them feel emarginated and motivates them to destroy houses and shops. Within a generation, the immigrants in the USA are already marrying people from other ethnic groups. In France inter-racial marriages are still rare, even generations after the first Africans arrived. The USA gives them a dream. France gives them a cubicle in a concentration camp. But every French person will tell you that the French system is more humane than the USA system. Suit yourself. The French honestly think that being given a bone to chew for free and doghouse where to sleep for free is something to relish and cherish.
    Whatever the cause and whatever the remedy, France is now stuck in a singular paradox. While democracy is spreading throughout the world and all countries are increasing individual freedom, France has introduced curfew, shut down websites (without any trial), forbidden public meetings, and arrested hundreds of protesters (a police state not seen since the Nazist occupation of France). As usual, all the media are providing the identical Chirac-approved version of the facts (condemnation of violence, justification of the emergency laws). The only difference between France and Uzbekistan is that the Uzbek police shot to kill, whereas the French police tried to avoid blood (not so much out of humanitarian considerations but out of fear that the police would be outnumbered if things turned nasty).
    This political class is just out of touch with reality. Speaking to Parliament, Villepin announced that 30 billion euros will be spent to modernize the riot zones and to help the youth of those zones. Needless to say, this will only encourage other social classes to riot. Villepin is sending a clear message: the French government is weak and will pay anyone who makes trouble. He also promised 100,000 euros to religious groups that operate in those areas: that is an outright bribe to the Muslim clerics. It will certainly make their mosques richer and therefore more influential on their communities. But neither he nor Chirac has a clue how to create jobs: French youth unemployment hovers above 20%. The traditional social policies favored by France will only increase that percentage. Home and business ownership is one of the lowest in the West: nothing that Villepin and Chirac said will increase that percentage either.
    The French intifada is not so much about Islam as it is about the stupidity of the system, of the regime that controls it, and of the silent majority that has been brainwashed by the media to believe in that system.
    Chirac has caused more devastation to France than anyone since Louis XVI. Maybe it is fitting that he be the one to hammer the first nail into the coffin of the French Republic.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (June 2005) Iter: why France? The European Union, the United States, Russia, Japan, South Korea and China partner in the Iter (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) project. It is a multi-billion dollar project to develop nuclear fusion for civilian use. A location in southern France won the right to host the project, that is planned to last 35 years and create a whole new generation of nuclear physicists. Needless to say, this is a boon to the French economy, probably the single most important achievement of the Chirac presidency. France beat Japan, that was another favorite to become the host of the project.
    American and British critics of France are likely to wonder why the USA and Britain would support France's bid for such a key project. The answer is very simple: France and Japan are the two countries that kept investing in nuclear plants when short-sighted countries such as the USA and Britain decided to stop. Thus France and Japan are the natural choices. And French nuclear technology is widely considered the superior one of the two.
    France reaps the benefits of having made the right choice 25 years ago, when the American people decided to kill their nuclear technology. In a not so distant future, the USA may be depending on France for its strategic energy needs.
    Knowing how short-sighted the Cheney-Bush administration can be, it is likely that the USA deemed this matter not very important (in the unlikely event that they understood what it is at all) and simply decided to let France and Japan fight it out between themselves.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (June 2005) And, after destroying France, he went on to destroy the European Union. Jacques Chirac may well go down in history as the most inept politician since the end of World War II.
    First he crippled the French economy, creating record unemployment and de-facto stagnation. Then he turned France into a joke with his strenuous defence of Saddam Hussein's right to remain in power forever. This resulted into France (a former world power) being isolated and becoming irrelevant both in Europe, in the Middle East and worldwide.
    Now he has managed to alienate the French voters so much that they turned down a European constitution that was designed by a Frenchman, Giscard d'Estaing.
    Chirac was victim of his own grandeur. This constitution should have been called more properly a "treaty", a simply treaty among the states to streamline the bureaucracy. Perhaps Chirac was already eyeing a European state (dominated by France, of course). He proudly referred to the "Franco-German engine", France being the political power and Germany the economic power: what a miserable engine, one piston mired in chronic stagnation and the other piston opposed to European integration.
    Chirac made no mystery that he wanted to exclude Britain (France's traditional rival) from the key European decisions (he routinely called meetings with Schroeder of Germany, Zapatero of Spain and even Putin of Russia, but rarely inviting Blair of Britain). Chirac made it clear that he expected the countries of Eastern Europe to be grateful to the Western European powers, i.e. France (even if they had been liberated by the USA, not by France), and simply "shut up" (his expression, not mine).
    As usual with Chirac, this was a policy based on nothing but arrogance.
    To prove that he still doesn't get it, Chirac has appointed Dominique de Villepin as new prime minister of France. Villepin became famous with his demagogical speeches at the United Nations defending a) the right of tyrants to remain in power forever and b) the right of France to decide what is right or wrong on behalf of the entire Europe. (It turned out most of Europe was very much alienated by this French attitude and ended up siding with the USA). Thus Chirac has simply decided to do more of what cost France so much. As Elaine Sciolino wrote in the New York Times of may 31: "Chirac has no intention of abandoning his vision of a grand and glorious France with a unique leadership mission in the world."
    France is becoming a joke. Impeach Chirac before it is too late. Then the new leader of France will have to explain that the European Union was never meant to be simply a colony of France, and that the European Union has a huge political value: who wants to go back to the world of the Cold War, or to the world of Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini?
    The dissolution of the European Union would be a catastrophe for the entire world. This is the continent that caused 1500 years of world wars. The European Union meant, first and foremost, that those powers were no longer fighting wars among themselves. Hopefully, this lost referendum is only a setback, and European integration can continue. But it may also be that the French voters understood something that the Euro-politicians don't understand: that the current constitution is tied to an obsolete view of the world. See Does the European constitution make sense?. Europe may need a different kind of supra-national "treaty".
    A treaty with the new democracies of Eastern Europe is important to make sure that history is not undone (that Russia does not re-absorb them). But NATO is a much more reliable institution than the European Union (if nothing else, because its "engine" is not made of two failed countries like France and Germany, but of two highly successful countries like the USA and Britain). Inevitably, Eastern Europe will be drawn closer to the USA and Britain, just the opposite of what Chirac was aiming to achieve.
    Unfortunately, the part of history that has just been undone is the one that was supposed to have rid Europe of nationalism. Nationalism is rampant as ever. The French care for France, not for Spain or Italy. And, presumably, this is also true in all the other countries, large and small. Language is indeed a curse: a French person from the north is concerned for what happens to French people in the south of France, but not for what happens to people in Hungary or even neighboring Spain. This is reflected in the way that governments compete to obtain subsidies from the European Union, each government caring only for its own territory, as if the well-being of the entire Union was not so important. It is the language that matters. Nationalism is still a powerful force. The old-fashioned state still prevails over the ideal of the supra-state federation.
    Nationalism surfaced again as soon as the benefits of European integration became fuzzy. For five decades countries like Germany, France and Italy have benefited from the economic integration. New countries benefited in turn as they joined. But over the last five years the eurozone (which is mostly made of the original founders) has been mired in all sorts of economic troubles, and people can't resist the temptation to identify their national crises with the introduction of the euro and the eastern expansion of the European Union.
    Thus Chirac was not the only cause of this "debacle". There is something truly worrying about the reasons that were so successful in killing the referendum. For example, many French voters meant to vote against the Anglosaxon model of democracy and capitalism. Is it really possible that a failed system like the French one is more appealing to them than the widely successful Anglosaxon model? Do French people really prefer high unemployment and slow growth over low unemployment and high growth? Is French nationalism so rampant to obliterate even the most basic facts?
    Non-Europeans who visit the European parliament in Strassburg smile when they see so many signs in French and learn that French is one of the two official languages of Europe (German is not, despite being the most spoken language in western Europe). After removing Chirac from power, the French nation should prove its commitment to European integration (not only French nationalism) with a gesture of humility: abolish the French language and adopt English, not only as the one and only language of Europe (which, de facto, already is), but as the very language of France. This would be an important first step towards the demise of nationalism and the birth of a true European spirit. Otherwise, we are entitled to conclude that France wants to be France, and only France, and "European integration" was fine only as long as it meant "French colonization". A distinguished French historian, LeGoff, has written (in his book "The Birth of Europe"): "The language problem remains one of the greatest difficulties in the construction of present-day Europe", except that he then goes on to claim that France should keep speaking French...
    See also The French referendum on the European constitution
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (May 2005) Do not celebrate the French invasions. As Europeans gather to celebrate the end of World War II, everybody agrees who the main villain was: Hitler. But two countries (at least) should not be too proud of what they did with that victory: Russia and France. The Soviet Union simply turned one brutal aggression (Hitler's) into another brutal aggression (Stalin's), so much so that many country (Poland, the Baltic countries, Ukraine, etc) wonder if Hitler wasn't after all the real liberator. (See Do not celebrate the Soviet invasion)
    France had actually lost the war twice: first against Hitler and then against the Allies. But because the USA and Britain wanted to be generous, they accepted Charles DeGaulle's version of the facts: that the French resistance (not the French government) won the war. That would be fine (Italians did the same, although the world didn't quite buy it). What was not fine is what France did with that victory: on the 8th of may 1945, France attacked Algeria and killed scores of people; one year later, it attacked Vietnam at Haiphong killing thousands of people, and a few years later (1950), France was pioneering the use of napalm at Tien Yen. In both cases the reason was imperial: France had no intention of giving to its colonies what it had gained for itself (freedom). France had the full intention of keeping all its colonies (exactly what Hitler wanted to do to France), and did to them exactly what Hitler did to the French who did not cooperate.
    The 60th anniversay of the end of World War II is also the anniversary of the beginning of the atrocities in Algeria and Vietnam.
    To France's credit, one must admit that France has been much better than Russia at facing its own World War II atrocities against Algeria and Vietnam (see for example this article and this article).
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (April 2005) A nuclear present for France, a nuclear future for the world. Anne Lauvergeon is an unsung heroine of France, Europe and perhaps the world. She leads Areva, a company that is mostly owned by the French government, but is pretty much her own creature. She used to run Cogema, the main organization for nuclear power in France, and before that she was a politician working for president Mitterrand.
    Areva is the vanguard in the global nuclear power industry. Lauvergeon has to fight environmentalists and assorted fanatics in almost every country of the world, and a public opinion that is easily terrified by the apocalyptic prophecies of the environmentalists, but the future belongs to her. There is little question that all the evils of the modern world (from pollution to economic crisis to Islamic terrorism to global warming) could be better fought if the whole world converted to nuclear energy. The question is how to create an efficient mechanism to do so, and Areva is showing the way.
    Lauvergeon was certainly lucky to be born in France. When the whole West was swept by the anti-nuclear hysteria, France kept calm and proceeded with an ambitious plan of nuclearization (unlike short-sighted countries like Italy, that banned nuclear energy after a national referendum, and the USA, that has not built a nuclear power plant in three decades). Going against the trend, France became one of the world's superpowers in nuclear energy: second after the USA in nuclear capacity, and first in nuclear power generation on a per capita basis. France is the tenth-largest consumer of oil in the world, importing oil from Norway, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Britain; but the nuclear push has lowered the dependency on oil from 71% in 1973 to 37% in 2002. France's 58 nuclear reactors generate about 80% of the country's electricity. No other country in Europe can dream this kind of efficiency. Not surprisingly, electricity tariffs are cheaper in France than anywhere else in Europe. Despite its superiority, France has recently (november 2003) decided to further expand its nuclear industry. Areva controls France's nuclear know-how, from uranium mining to reactor construction, from recycling nuclear waste to plant decontamination. As more and more countries desire to go the way France went, Areva can sell 30 years of experience. In fact, Areva is finishing the design of a new kind of reactor, the European Pressurized Reactor (EPR), that should become the world's most efficient (and probably safest). Other countries (such as Italy and the USA) have lost the know-how needed to compete in this field.
    There is a reason if France's electricity is less dependent on oil than any other western country. The USA likes to bash France, but maybe they should start learning from France: France built 58 nuclear power plants in the same period when the USA built... zero.
    Anne Lauvergeon is part of a new generation of business leaders who can save the world when political leaders (particularly in Europe) have abdicated any intention to do so. Noel Forgeard, the man who led Airbus to pass Boeing as the world's largest aircraft manufacturer, is another example of brilliant business leader who has achieved what politicians could not, and perhaps "despite" the politicians.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (March 2005) The most dangerous man in the world: that's the title that Jacques Chirac is trying to make his own. After desperately trying to keep Saddam Hussein in power, while at the same time alienating the Muslim masses with a ridiculous ban on the Islamic scarf, Chirac has now decided that Europe (meaning: France) should start selling high-tech weapons to China. Needless to say, this has worried the USA (although Bush is certainly not going to lose his sleep over French weapons that are vastly inferior to USA weapons) and has greatly alarmed China's neighbors, in particular Japan. In a rare case of open criticism, Japanese prime minister Koizumi has vented his anger at Chirac (see this BBC article). Hard to blame him: Chirac is basically playing with the lives of 100 million Japanese citizens (not to mention millions of Taiwanese citizens, who are routinely threatened by Beijing of invasion and extermination).
    If there is one region in which a limited nuclear war is a possibility, that has to be the region around China, from Pakistan to North Korea. It is utterly senseless to sell even one bullet (let alone high-tech weapons) to the most aggressive country in that region.
    Shame on the Europeans who let Chirac speak for all of them. There is no need to claim that this is a "European" decision: Britain will not sell high-tech weapons to China, and the rest of Europe does not have any high-tech weapons to sell. So this is really a French matter, that Chirac, as usual, depicts as an European matter, hoping that pitting the USA against Europe (not just France) will get him the support of other European countries. Shame on the Europeans who go along with Chirac's madness.
    But also shame on the USA and Japan that take no action to punish Chirac. The USA and Japan should seriously consider retaliating against France. (See How the USA makes France a world power). The best form of retaliation would be to create a nuclear power right in France's backyard, for example repented Libya or Algeria or, quite simply, Italy, a staunch USA ally. Let Chirac know how it feels to have a heavily armed nation right at your borders.
    It is also about time that Japan becomes a nuclear power. It is the third largest economy in the world. Why in heaven the third largest economy in the world (Japan) has to fear the actions of the seventh largest economy in the world (France)? Shouldn't it be the other way around?
    No French leader in history has managed to create so much anti-French sentiment in the world as Chirac did since he became president.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (February 2005) How the USA makes France a world power. France's anti-American attitude did not start with the Iraqi invasion. It started right after the end of World War 2. DeGaulle was already claiming that France had defeated Hitler (not the American/British armies) and soon claimed that France needed its own nuclear force to be truly "independent". And independent it became, antagonizing the USA on just about everything. How did France manage it? Very simple: thanks to the USA itself.
    The USA has consistently rewarded France for its anti-American stance. DeGaulle was treated by USA presidents like a superior head of state, with much more reverence than any of the closer allies. Today, Chirac is treated like a special partner, even after he openly insulted the USA, while the presidents of true allies, such as Italy and Poland, are only invited to Bush's ranch for a brunch and a chat. During her trip to Europe, Condy Rice is to give her main speech in Paris: why Paris and not Rome or Warsaw? Isn't this the woman who once said "Forgive Russia, ignore Germany and punish France"?
    The USA's inferiority complex towards France is one of the great mysteries of modern diplomacy.
    It is the USA that created French power (by elevating France to a winner of World War 2 and giving France a permanent seat at the United Nations) and it is the USA that continues to keep France alive as a world power.
    Or is this a way to thank France for getting rid of Arafat? (See A conspiracy theory about Tony Blair).
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (December 2004) Irresponsible France and Germany. Both Jacques Chirac of France and Gerhard Schroeder of Germany, two of the most inept, corrupt and incompetent leaders in the modern history of Europe, have asked the European Union to lift a ban on arms sales to China (the Bejijng dictatorship, not the Taiwanese democracy). The reason is very simple: they need new customers for their arms industry now that their best customer, Saddam Hussein, is gone. And China would be the biggest and richest customer in the world, thanks to the trillions of dollars that it gets from the USA (See How the USA funds the dictatorships of Iran and China).
    Chirac's and Schroeder's move is the quintessential of what is wrong with continental Europe's foreign policy, a mixture of anti-democratic cynicism and utter stupidity. The stupidity is obvious: China is not Iraq, China has the infrastructure to copy whatever technology it buys from Europe. If you sell China a radar, you already know that China will copy it and make hundreds of them. It is a customer that will become your competitor, and may become your enemy as well, an enemy with one billion people. The cynicism is about the indifference that these leaders show for the consequences of such an arms sale. Do they expect Japan and Taiwan to stand still while China obtains the military power to invade them? If China obtains advanced weestern military technology, Taiwan and Japan will be forced to obtain at least the same technology. Which would lead to a new arms race: but that's precisely what the arms sellers of France and Germany want, isn't it? A new arms race that would fill their empty national coffers.
    (Two days after Chirac's visit to China and France's request that the European Union lifts its arms ban against China, Japan announced f our-year military plan, "National Defence Outline", that significantly changes the scope of Japan's military, particularly in the development of missile defence, specifically mentioning the Chinese military build-up as a main concern. This is how problems around the world are created: by madmen like Chirac selling weapons to warmongers like Beijing).
    Luckily, French and German military technology would be worthless without the technology that they import from the USA, and luckily the USA has no intention to prostitute its democratic principles to business. The threat that the USA might stop providing Europe with advanced technology should be enough to derail France's and Germany's plans to prostitute themselves to the illegitimate Chinese regime.
    What is truly disconcerting is that millions of French and German citizens who marched in the streets to protest the USA removal of Saddam Hussein have nothing to say when their leaders want to sell weapons to (i.e. strengthen, not remove) a totalitarian regime.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (December 2004) Chirac sells out France to China. During a recent, much publicized, trip to China, Chirac declared that "France and China share belief and wish in common for a just and peaceful world, stable economic development". This said from the man who supported Saddam Hussein (and countless other mad dictators) to the regime that is still occupying Tibet and Turkestan, that has annexed Hong Kong against the will of its people and that wants to annex Taiwan against the will of its people. Was this meant to be a threat to the free world by the two main enemies of freedom and democracy?
    Chirac, desperate for cash, sold China every high technology he could sell, from planes to trains to satellites to nuclear plants, knowing well that China has the means to copy French technology and become a competitor of China. He inaugurated a France-China science and technology center at the university of Tongji and a joint research institute: the world wonders what technology and science China is going to provide to these joint ventures that France does not already have. Basically, France is selling out centuries of western science and technology in exchange for hard cash that France desperately needs.
    One can recognize Chirac's old style. He did the same with Saddam Hussein, who was mostly armed by France (from the MIG warplanes to the nuclear technology).
    Except that this time the beneficiary is China, a much more powerful enemy of freedom.
    No other western leader has ever been accorded such prominence by the Chinese regime; possibly because no other western leader has even been so naive.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (November 2004) How did Arafat die? The death of Yasser Arafat is turning into a soap opera as France refuses to disclose what exactly he died of. Arafat was able to walk and talk before he entered the French hospital. Hours later, he was in a coma. There are rumours that a series of mistakes by the French doctors caused his accidental death (it wouldn't be the first time in France, notorious for a lousy health-care system).
    The Palestinian prime minister has officially requested that France discloses Arafat's medical records, but France has stubbornly refused. What is the mystery all about? (It sounds like the Palestinian prime minister himself, who saw Arafat very frequently, is as surprised as everybody else by Arafat's sudden death).
    Maybe it is another of Chirac's antisemitic scoops. He knows that the usual news-terrorists of Al Jazeera have spread the rumour that Arafat was poisoned by the Israeli secret services. By refusing to disclose the cause of Arafat's death, Chirac helps the rumour survive.
    (The French government claims to be sticking to the law: the medical records cannot be disclosed without consent from the immediate family, i.e. Arafat's wife. But aren't death certificates supposed to be drawn based on the information in the person's birth certificate or passport? So why does Arafat's death certificate list Arafat's birthplace as Jerusalem? All of Arafat's biographers agree that he was born in Cairo, Egypt, and don't tell me the French authorities didn't know it. However, in this case France decided that the wish of Arafat's wife was more important than a birth certificate. Also, France decided that the Arafat was a "Palestinian citizen": how is that possible if France does not recognize any country named "Palestine"? In France, Sahrawis are considered Moroccans, Kurds are considered Turkish, Tibetans are considered Chinese, all the people whose land has been invaded are considered citizens of the invader. However, Arafat was not considered an Israeli. Why? Because common sense, not the French law, says so. So the law was not applied literally for most of Arafat's death certificate, except for protecting the cause of his death. In other words: the part of the law that would hurt the Palestinian cause was ignored, but the piece of the law that hurts Israel was applied literally. Last but not least, France would certainly break this law if they were accused of having killed Arafat. Somehow, it is ok for France to exculpate itself, but it is not ok to exculpate Israel).
    If France disclosed the real cause of death, the rumour would die. This is yet another opportunity for Chirac to create a problem in the Middle East: why miss it?
    (It sounds like that law was not so important after all: France eventually agreed to release Arafat's medical records to his nephew, who is not an immediate relative but is a member of the PLO. Needless to say, the damage to Israel had already been done).
  • France refuses to disclose the cause of Arafat's death (Al Bawaba)
  • France refuses to disclose the cause of Arafat's death (BBC News)
  • Palestinian prime minster Ahmed Qurei asks France a detailed report on the cause of Arafat's death (Indolink)
  • Palestinian prime minster Ahmed Qurei asks France a detailed report on the cause of Arafat's death (China View)
  • France to release Arafat's medical records
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (November 2004) France's pro-Palestinian policy. A recent poll in the "Liberation" daily of Paris, found that French people consider the Israeli more terrorists than the Palestinians, and the Palestinians more victims than the Israelis (34% to 13%). The same poll found that most French people view Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat as a hero not a terrorist (43% to 22%). (See this article).
    For those who are familiar with the French media, this does not come as a surprise. Chirac has always kept a virulent anti-Israeli (if not anti-semitic) stand. And the French media (which are mostly funded by the government) have simply followed his example.
    Recently, both the Palestinian masses and the USA media have been disgusted by the fight over Arafat's fortunes. It wasn't just the American media that described Arafat as a corrupt leader who had hid millions (if not billions): it was the very Palestinian people. But the French media insisted in only reporting that Arafat the great warrior was dying, and how much commotion this was causing in Palestine. That is only 50% of the story: it is true that many Palestinians identify the Palestinian nation with the man who started the liberation war, but it is also true that Arafat's approval rate was estimated at 15-20%, because of widespread corruption. Chirac himself has never said a word about the fortune ammassed by Arafat. The European Union has been paying him millions of euros a month, which have rarely been used for schools or hospitals. We know that about 100,000 euros a month end in his wife's bank account, but the rest is simply unaccounted. The Palestinian people know this. The USA media know this. Somehow, Chirac has missed this news.
    The French media only tell 50% of the facts, the 50% that implies: 1. Israel is the real terrorist; 2. Arafat is a hero. No surprise that the French people think that 1. Israel is the real terrorist (three to one!); 2. Arafat is a hero (two to one!).
    The funny thing is that all this pro-Arab attitude by Chirac's fascist regime has not yielded any result for France: France has never been more isolated and scorned by the Arab world. But the French media are obliged to report only the successes, not the defeats, so the French people probably think that France is actually benefiting from Chirac's policies, when in fact most Arab countries have abandoned their traditional pro-French policy and joined the USA in the "war on terrorism" French companies have been expelled from the entire Middle East. two French hostages are still being held in Iraq (what an embarrassment that the Italian hostages, a country that is currently occupying Iraq with the USA and Britain, were released right away, and the French hostages, the main country that opposed the USA invasion, are still being held),
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (August 2004) The French mind.
    This is one in a series of articles on the French mind, the German mind, the Arab mind, and the Anglosaxon mind.
    Jacques Chirac's stand against the USA was not surprising: he has spent his political career betraying his friends and allies. What truly surprised the American people is the fact that the French people sided with their corrupt and senile president. From an Anglosaxon perspective, such a rally around a failed leader is a bit odd. Much more successful leaders such as Margaret Thatcher or Tony Blair rarely got more than 50% of approval for their foreign policies. Chirac got more than 90%.
    A recent book by Philippe Roger, "L'ennemi Americain: Genealogie de l'Anti-americanisme Francais" (2004), examines how anti-American sentiment developed in France. But, being written by a French writer, it fails to show the most sensational and perhaps frightening feature of the anti-American sentiment: how large the consensus is.
    French anti-Americanism used to be only a piece of folklore, a picturesque and entertaining feature of France, something that helps attract tourists; but it is becoming dangerously similar to the German attitude towards the free (mostly Anglosaxon) world in the 1930s.
    The French (not only their president) have created their own view of the world, a view that certainly has many sympathyzers both in Europe and in the Middle East, in fact among all the anti-Americans of the world.
    The one thing that is striking about today's France is: consensus. France is the only country in the world (democratic or not) that manages to create almost complete unity on major issues of foreign policy: 95% of French people opposed the invasion of Iraq, 96% of French people are in favor of the Kyoto protocol, etc. There is no other country in the world that can assemble majorities of this kind.
    Let's start with the very source of the problem: the media. The French media are all supported by the government, otherwise they would all go bankrupt. Needless to say, this is not the best way to keep the media independent. The recent Iraqi querelle is typical: there was no querelle, there was no debate. The French were uniform in presenting the removal of Saddam Hussein as an imperialist invasion by the USA. And, of course, they all condemned it. The "debate" was about how evil and stupid Bush was: politicians, journalists and intellectuals agreed that the USA made a mistake, and the debate was only about how serious a mistake and why. Virtually nobody even thought for a second that maybe, just maybe, it was not a mistake at all. There was only one united anti-American front. That is called a "debate" in France.
    Where did that united front come from? The media. The French public opinion is obviously brainwashed by media that present only one option, whether the subject is the Kyoto Protocol (all the French think Kyoto is good, even if almost nobody ever read it) or the invasion of Iraq. An external observer can't help noticing such a uniform opinion: 95% of French people agree on jusdt about every international issue. It is almost statistically impossible. Needless to say, the French think exactly the opposite: they think it is the Americans who are brainwashed by their media. In the USA, support for the Kyoto Protocol, the invasion of Iraq and any other major international issues is split: about 50% pro and 50% against. But the French are convinced that Americans are brainwashed, otherwise it would be 95% against 5%, just like in France. This not only defies statistics, it also defies logic. If 95% of people think the same, it means the media are fair and balanced. If people are split 50-50%, it means the media are biased. Odd, isn't it? Well, it's precisely what every French citizen (particularly the intellectuals) thinks.
    The leading French newspaper, "Le Monde", routinely depicts Americans as stupid, barbaric and ignorant, and support any anti-American attitude among consumers, and blamesthe USA for every problem in the world, from civil wars to global warming, even for aberrations that France itself started (arms sales to third-world countries, support for fascist dictators, the Vietnam war). French tv stations compete to host all sorts of anti-American gurus who routinely criticize and ridicule everything the USA does in the world (often sounding like a comedian who keeps repeating the same line "it's all because of the oil", and even for countries that have nothing to do with oil, but always finding a pipeline or a well that somehow could become strategic).
    A recent tv program, "One Hundred Minutes to Understand", was typical. It purported to explain the American mind via interviews with a number of (both French and American) experts on the USA, but "all" the experts (whether French or American) were unanimous in condemning the Bush administration. The debate was mostly about what precisely is evil about Bush, and what the consequences will be. That Bush is evil was never questioned by any of the "experts".
    French media routinely present the USA economy as collapsing. They had a catastrophic view of the USA economy even during the boom of the 1990s. This offsets the fact that the French economy is in much worse shape. The average French citizen knows that many Americans are poor (sometimes she even knows the exact percentage) but does not know simple facts about the French economy. For example, "France has the highest youth unemployment in Europe, at 26 percent; only 37 percent of its over-55 population works, a world low. Its employment rate of 58 percent is at the bottom of the developed world." I wonder how many French, who are fluent in the economic decline of the USA, are aware of these simply facts mentioned by Nicolas Baverez (a rare dissenting voice) in his recent book "La France qui Tombe".
    Notice also how quickly some embarrassing stories disappear in France. How did the anti-French insurrection in Ivory Coast end? France bombed their air force and evacuated its citizens, then silence. It remains a secret today. Who helped Saddam Hussein steal billions of the "oil for food" program? The United Nations started an investigation that has been quietly silenced. It remains a secret today. What was the cause of death of Arafat? France claimed it could not disclose the medical record because of a confidentiality law. It remains a secret today.
    In january 2004, French prime minister Alain Juppe, Chirac's closest ally, was found guilty of corruption. He was condemned to ten years of suspension from political life. Everybody knew that Chirac was the mastermind of the illicit campaign and party financing practices of the 1980s and 1990s. Everybody knows that Chirac (then mayor of France) used the mayor's office to fund and promote his presidential bids. Chirac's mafia-style rise (through contracting kickbacks, padded payrolls and secret cash payments) had been under investigation since 1998. At the time, Alain Duhamel said: "It's Chirac who was guilty, but it was Juppe who was convicted." Since then, the attorney who investigated Juppe has been criminalized by the media and eventually lost her job. Juppe, instead, has been quietly rehabilitated by the media (led by Chirac's wife Bernadatte in person). In december 2004, the court (under pressure from Chirac) reduced Juppe's sentence from 10 years to just one. Welcome back, Juppe: now you are free to corrupt again on your Chirac's behalf. Some day you may even run for president, when Chirac, tired of destabilizing the world and robbing the French people, decides to step down for good. Of course, it is a coincidence that this comes one day after the French dictator (oops, I meant "president") has fired the only man who dared oppose him, Nicolas Sarkozy.
    In the USA, Richard Nixon had to resign for this kind of crime, and his reputation was destroyed forever. Recently, Trent Lott, who was the most powerful man in America after Bush, the man of the oil and gun lobbies in the Senate, not to mention the very leader of the Senate, had to resign for much less than corruption. In France, the media are basically absent.
    Ever wondered by Chirac is so anti-semitic (or, at least, anti-Israeli)? In 1997, Hector Feliciano published a book "The Lost Museum: The Nazi Conspiracy to Steal the World's Greatest Works of Art" that accused France of still holding art stolen from Jews who were then killed by nazists in concentration camps. Feliciano's book revealed how, during the German invasion of France, when the French government was allied with Hitler and Jews were deported by the thousands, the art market in Paris boomed, as wealthy French citizens rushed to purchase the art stolen from the Jews. The French National Museums admitted candidly that this was correct. French prime minister (guess who) Alain Juppe promised to investigate, but (guess what) never did.
    It should also be fairly self-evident that France has been the strongest supporter of dictators around the world, from Saddam Hussein to China. Chirac does not tour Australia, Japan or the new democracies of Africa (Ghana, Namibia, Kenya). He tours (with much fanfare) Libya, Russia and China. Chirac openly hugs Putin (the butcher of Chechnya, who jails his political opponents), Chirac signs $20 billion dollar of contracts with Hu Jintao (more famous for his repression of Tibet's independence movement) and behaves like a father to Qaddafi (who ordered the bombing of a French airliner in 1989). But none of this is so obvious if you read the French newspapers and watch the French media. There is no Michael Moore and no Noam Chomsky ridiculing Chirac's foreign policy.
    (Read this article about how the French media are controlled by politicians).
    Thus it is not surprising that it is so difficult to argue about politics with the French. Their arguments are mostly irrational, based not on a debate, but on a deep conviction that "we are right and they are wrong". The average French person never had to justify her/his belief that it was wrong to invade Iraq: s/he never had a discussion with someone who held the opposite view. It is a dogma that has never been discussed. When presented with the opposite viewpoint, the typical French reaction is of deep annoyance: "how dare you say something so obviously stupid"? They have never heard the opposite side.
    Take the most popular dogma: "It's because of the oil". It was obviously "not" because of the oil, otherwise the USA would have simply made a deal with Saddam, just like they do in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait (the peace is obviously because of the oil). A war is not a good way to get cheap oil (in fact, the price of oil has skyrocketed in both Gulf Wars). So it is, at best, simplistic to claim that the USA removed Saddam Hussein because of the oil. At worst, it is a ridiculous idea. But a very popular one in France. Why is it so popular? Because nobody ever told them that it is a ridiculous idea. They have never been asked to think about it. On the other hand, Chirac's defense of Saddam was certainly about the oil that Saddam had promised to France and that now France has to get from somewhere else: almost no French person has thought of this one, although the deals between Saddam and Chirac can be easily verified.
    The French have deep convinctions that everything in the USA is wrong. Take health care: millions of Americans don't have any kind of health-care insurance. True. And this would be welcome criticism if it came from, say, Germany or Sweden, countries that provide excellent health care to their peoples. But France is famous for having one of the worst health-care systems in the world. If 15 thousand people had not died of it, it would be comic (not tragic as it is) that a simple heat wave in 2003 created such a mess in France. There are all sorts of horror tales of people infected with AIDS and killed by accident in French hospitals. How can a French citizen criticize the USA when the French system is ridiculed all over the world?
    Take education: the French routinely claim that Americans are ignorant. They might have a point or two, there. But, what kind of pulpit are they to throw the first stone? The USA may have an idiot like Bush for president, but they have Chirac, who is not only senile and a little unstable, but also a veteran criminal. The French routinely call Bush "ignorant", but rarely mention that his most trusted advisor, Condoleeza Rice, is a former professor at one of the world's most celebrated universities, an enfant prodige who comes from a poor family and became the youngest provost in the history of Stanford University. No government in Europe can claim someone with Rice's academic credentials. On the other hand, French ignorance on the USA is turned into knowledge: the French have not read any of the scholarly books that I list at the end of "The Politics of the USA", but they are confident they know the USA very well because they have watched a documentary made by an American comedian (Michael Moore). The USA does not base its judgement of France on a comedian's documentary: it is France that does so. A recent report prepared by China (not a friend of the USA) listed 17 USA universities among the top 20 of the world, and no French university. Check the Nobel Prizes. Check, for that matter, the number of books sold in each country. Check the number of readers of newspapers. The USA dwarfs France in just about every cultural indicator.
    Thus France does not have a Michael Moore making funny provocative movies about president Chirac, despite the fact that Chirac (with his turbulent past, countless connections with dictators worldwide and corrupt dealings in Paris) would obviously be an ideal subject for a documentary of the kind that Moore did for Bush. But it would be terribly difficult for a French film-maker to make a documentary "against" Chirac, and, even if it did happen, it would probably not find an audience: the reason Moore's documentary is popular is not that people want to see the truth, it is that it is anti-American. An "anti-French" documentary would have no audience in France (or, for that matter, anywhere else).
    The media distort history (both ancient and recent one) to the point that the French find it natural to think that the USA is so inferior to France. The facts obviously prove the opposite: the USA is becoming more and more powerful, France is becoming more and more irrelevant. Given a choice, the vast majority of people of this planet would move to the USA, not to France.
    The French fall into the most blatant of contradictions when discussing American foreign policy. France has been and still is a colonial power, right? It still controls territories as remote as the "French" Polinesia, islands off the coast of Canada, one island in Africa, etc. It is, in fact, the "only" remaining colonial power. But guess what: if the USA sends soldiers anywhere (whether it's tiny Panama or big Iraq), the French accuse the USA of being imperialistic. It's like Hitler accusing Gandhi of being nazist.
    The French media tell the French that the USA were not only wrong but criminal in invading Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein from power. Almost every Frenchman and Frenchwoman agrees. But then it is odd how the very same French people justify the fact that France has been sending troops to all sorts of countries that never requested it, from Haiti to Ivory Coast. In fact, huge crowds of ordinary people have been attacking the French soldiers in Ivory Coast's capital (something that the USA has not experienced yet in Iraq).
    Ask a French person if it was a good idea to remove Saddam Hussein from power, and you will get a resounding "no". Ask the same person if the sanctions against Saddam Hussein were right, and you get the same "no". Ask the same person if the USA was right in doing business with Saddam during the 1980s, and you get the same "no". So which one is it? Tolerating Saddam Hussein in power is bad, imposing sanctions is bad, and removing him is bad. The French have been brainwashed in all three instances by their media, and now have to logically continue to claim that all three options are bad. Thus anything the USA does is bad.
    The French also contradict themselves on the issue of how to deal with dictators. France has always entertained good relationships with people such as Castro, Qaddafi and Saddam Hussein, not to mention countless African dictators (including cannibal Bokassa, who was crowned by the French as "emperor"). When asked "is it good or bad to fight dictators?", most French would reply "good", without realizing that France "never" (repeat: never) removed a single dictator from power while the USA removed Hitler, Mussolini, Noriega, the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, all of them dictators. France opposed the liberation of Iraq from Saddam Hussein's tyranny, but somehow it was ok for the USA to liberate France from Hitler's tyranny (a liberation that cost thousands of French lives). Given that the French have produced some of the greatest philosophers, scientists and writers of all time, it is not a genetic deficiency that leads the French to fall into such blatant contradictions. So what is it? To any external observer, it is fairly obvious that the French fall into contradictions because they are brainwashed by government-controlled media, but every French citizen would forcefully deny this, and accuse everybody else, from Italy to the USA of being brainwashed by their media.
    (Read this article about how the French media are controlled by politicians).
    The truth is that anti-Americanism is part of a larger phenomenon: the French, no matter how much they complain about France (and they do so all day long) rarely see their own (real) weaknesses. For example, not a French citizen will hesitate to criticize Italy for being an imperfect democracy, despite the fact that the Italian judiciary destroyed the most powerful party in the country, the Christian Democrats, and indicted the most powerful man in the country, prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, whereas the French judiciary has not even indicted president Jacques Chirac despite the overwhelming evidence that he was involved in at least one scandal. From the fact that Berlusconi was indicted by the Italian judiciary whereas Chirac was not indicted by the French judiciary, the French deduce that Berlusconi was more guilty than Chirac, not that the Italian judiciary is more independent than the French judiciary is. French citizens make fun of Italian media controlled by Berlusconi, when in fact the Italian media criticized Berlusconi's decisions on Iraq, whereas the French media (pretty much all of them) sided with Chirac. From the fact that the Italian media criticize the Iraqi policy of their prime minister Berlusconi whereas the French media approve of the Iraqi policy of their president Chirac, the French deduce that Chirac is right and Berlusconi is wrong, not that the Italian media are more independent than the French media. Sometimes France feels like Syria. When I was in Syria, I told a Syrian man who was defending his regime: "In the USA, one can walk in the street and shout that Bush is an idiot. Can a Syrian walk in the street and shout that Assad is an idiot?" He replied: "No, because every Syrian loves Assad". The French sometimes use the same logic: why do 95% of French people condemn the Iraqi invasion? because it was wrong.
    By the same token, it would be reasonable to suspect that Chirac's opposition to the removal of Saddam Hussein was an attempt to hide France's role in the oil-for-food scandal that caused the deaths of thousands of Iraqi children during the 1990s. However, almost no French citizen came to suspect this.
    The "we know better" attitude is at least odd for a country that, over the last 300 years, lost three wars in a row to the British (1702-13, 1756-63 and 1803-15), three wars in a row to the Germans (1870-71, 1914-18, 1940-45), a war against Vietnam (1946-54) and a war against Algeria (1954-62) in the same period of time when the USA went from being a bunch of poor colonies to being the world's only superpower. Even if you didn't study mathematics, it shouldn't be difficult to guess which country made the right decisions and which one made the wrong decisions over the last three centuries.
    Culturally, France never had the logistic revolution that affected the Anglosaxon countries a century ago. French philosophers and politicians still speak the convoluted, difficult language of rhetoric, instead of the Anglosaxon language of logic. The French never learned to separate grammar from meaning. So it is very difficult for a French intellectual to draw the conclusion from "Removing dictators is good" and "Saddam is a dictator". A French intellectual would refuse to draw the logical confusion and would start talking and talking and talking, jumping from "it's all because of the oil" to "Bush is a fascist" without any logical direction, simply one stereotype after the other. Discussing with a French intellectual is a bit like discussing with an Islamic fundamentalist: no wonder that they agree more often than they would like to.
    The situation is made even worse by the influence of the intellectuals of May 1968. That month was the month of the student riots, that eventually spread to Italy and Germany. These intellectuals were Marxist-leaning and anti-American (and rightly so, as the USA was engaged in the most stupid war of their history, the Vietnam war). For these intellectuals, denouncing the USA is like breathing air or eating food: it is something that "obviously" one must do. It is the assumption, not the thesis. As Roger writes, "the USA could be weighed and judged without ever having been visited". (It's an attitude a bit similar to the American neoconservatives who take for granted that "liberal" is evil). These left-leaning intellectuals, who, later on, could hardly make any inroads in the business or scientific communities, are now running the media and the schools, i.e. French public opinion. They live according to Marx's precept that "philosophers have only interpreted the world, but now the issue is to change it". There is nothing more dangerous than a philosopher trying to change the world.
    Almost everybody in France will tell you that France opposed the invasion of Iraq because France truly believed it was wrong. Unfortunately, France has "always" opposed the USA. It started with DeGaulle, and continues today with Chirac. Has the USA always been wrong?
    Nobody in France can answer the simple question: "How does France's behavior (a constant and permanent opposition to everything the USA does) help France?" It obviously doesn't: whenever the USA "loses", the whole West loses. The only logical answer can be: "because France aims at replacing the USA as the world's superpower". In this case, and only in this case, does France constant opposition to the USA make sense: France's fundamental mission is to become the world's superpower, which entails fighting the USA anywhere anytime. Not having the military means to do so, France contents itself with anti-American diplomacy, anytime anywhere. Then one can understand France's behavior since the end of WW2.
    As Charles De Gaulle put it: "France cannot be France without greatness".
    (To his credit, he also said: "I cannot prevent the French from being French")
    This is one in a series of articles on the French mind, the German mind, the Arab mind, and the Anglosaxon mind.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (September 2004) How France is trying to win the peace. Wasn't France the country that opposed the USA on Iraq and that claimed the importance of creating an "anti-American" pole? Is this the same country that has sided with the USA on every single issue, from Iran to Sudan to Lebanon? Yes, it is. After the invasion of Iraq, France has consistently voted with the USA on every United Nations resolution. In fact, it has even co-sponsored some of the resolutions that the USA sponsored (such as the one on Lebanon). France has sided with the USA in demanding that Sudan stops massacring the people of Darfur, in demanding that Iran abandons its nuclear ambitions, in demanding that Syria withdraws from Lebanon, in removing Aristide from Haiti, in forcing Charles Taylor out of Liberia. France has not only dropped any objection to Turkey's entry into the USA (something that the Bush administration has ineptly pressured the European Union to accept) but has even become the main driver behind Turkey's candidacy (the exact opposite of one year ago). In other words, France has become the most faithful ally of the USA. France has even withdrawn its objections to using NATO troops in Iraq.
    There are at least two simple reasons for this behavior.
    The first one is the simpler: France lost the war in Iraq; and is panicking. The defeat resulted in a degree of international isolation that France has never experienced before. As a columnist of the New York Times wrote, Chirac's gamble was a "colossal miscalculation". He thought that France would become the hero of the anti-American world. It turned out that it simply became the... loser. The whole Arab world has aligned itself with the USA: Morocco is now a privileged trade partner, Egypt is the second recipient of USA aid, Jordan is run by an Arab-American, Libya has become a diligent ally, Algeria has proclaimed its belief in a "strategic friendship" with the USA, Djibouti is basically a USA colony, and the other countries (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, emirates) were already staunch USA allies. When Chirac announced his "grand plan" for the Middle East, it was ignored by just about everybody. Not a single Middle Eastern country has invited Chirac for consultations on the future of Iraq. Even in Europe, France finds itself isolated. Germany has mended its rift with the USA, and it is likely that Schroeder's successor will be a Christian Democrat, strongly pro-USA. Chirac has kept courting Putin, but Putin has refused to sign any meaningful treaty with France. The European Union has become largely unfriendly to the French, because of Chirac's excessive arrogance in passing his desired European constitution (which he had to change) and his arrogance in condemning anyone who sided with the USA. THe result is an European Union that would vote against just about any French initiative. They just voted against Chirac's candidate for head of the European commission, pretty much only because they didn't want a candidate supported by France.
    If Chirac's goal was to carve a place for France in the Middle East, he failed miserably: the Middle East (which was mostly Russian, French and British territory) has now become a satellite of the USA, from Morocco to Afghanistan. (And the USA is working on the three remaining exceptions: Sudan, Syria, Iran). The net effect of Chirac's actions has been to erase any French presence from the Middle East, and to reduce France's power within the European Union. France is inevitably contemplating the only way to become relevant again: help the USA pass whatever resolution they want to pass.
    The second reason is subtler but even more important. France is a country the size of Italy, and way smaller than India or Indonesia or Brazil. Why does its opinion matter so much? Because it wields veto power in the United Nations. Kofi Annan has long been advocating a reform of the United Nations that would reduce the importance of Europe and increase the importance of the other continents, something that would make the United Nations more credible (See What is wrong with the United Nations). De facto, this probably means giving veto power to some entities (e.g., Japan and India, the Arab League, the African Union) and reducing the European presence to one veto for the entire European Union. That would be a disaster for France, that would not matter anymore on the international scene. The USA has been ambivalent about Kofi Annan's plan, but it is only a matter of time before the USA president realizes that a reform could be in its own interests: who would vote against the USA? Africa is strongly pro-USA, the European Union has a whole is more likely to be a trusted ally than France, Japan would add a vote to the USA camp, and India is likely to vote with the USA on just about every issue. Now France needs to make sure that the USA does not join Kofi Annan in a call for reform. France is a power as long as the USA does not pay attention to Kofi Annan's demand for reform. That will not happen as long as France sides with the USA.
    France has a tradition of winning the peace after losing the war. It lost the first world war against Germany, and was saved only by the USA, but it managed to impose conditions on Germany. France lost the second world war twice: first it was defeated by Hitler in a matter of weeks, and then, after it switched sides and allied itself with Hitler, was invaded/ liberated by the Anglosaxon armies. Again, France declared itself a winner and managed to become one of the "four" victorious powers. Armed with such historical subtlely, France is doing it again: it lost in Iraq, but will probably emerge as a key pillar of the USA strategy in the Middle East. Wanna bet?
    (Note of February 2005. France's notoriously anti-American foreign minister Villepin was replaced with Michel Barnier, who 1. called Villepin an "idealist" (like he was trying to justify a little rascal who made a mess), 2. shut down the French broadcasts of Al-Manar, the French-language equivalent of Al Jazeera (he has done what the USA has not had the guts to do), 3. on january 20 called the USA a "vital ally", 4. in february visited Israel and Sudan, basically apologizing to Israel for Chirac's behavior, and calling Sudan the biggest crisis in the Arab world (precisely what Blair/Bush wanted to hear).
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (July 2004) Chirac vs Sharon. There is little question (the French government admits it) that racial antisemitic crimes are on the rise throughout France. The ever undiplomatic Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon told a crowd of Jews that Jews are being persecuted in France and should leave France for Israel. The ever megalomaniac French President Jacques Chirac responded by telling Sharon that he is not welcome anymore in France. The two of them would make a great couple in any vaudeville show.
    But it may be a good thing for Europe that the affair came up. Jews are indeed targeted in the current political atmosphere in France. Chirac is spilling crocodile tears. He is the one who never misses an opportunity to criticize Israel while never (never) criticizing an Arab state. How many times has Chirac spoken openly against torture in the various Arab country? How many times has Chirac accused Qaddafi of Libya of destroying entire villages that were opposed to his rule? Never. How many times has Chirac criticized Israel's methods in the West Bank or Israel's barrier? Frequently. This sends the message to millions of French citizens that Israel is particularly bad. Chirac claims to be objective and respectful, but the truth is that he is doing exactly what Hitler did in the 1930s: single out the Jews (or at least the Jewish state) as the culprit for all the ills of the world. At least, that is the impression that he creates in some French citizens. So much so that the French citizens who engaged in antisemitic views are not necessarily right-wing extremists: they often subscribe to center or even left-wing ideologies. (It doesn't help that the tv station "Al-Manar" of the anti-Jewish terrorist group Hezbollah is broadcast worldwide through the French satellite operator Eutelsat).
    (And France is not new to anti0semitism: the French revolution granted voting rights to all citizens... except Jews).
    The same phenomenon is happening in the rest of Europe. Distinguished politicians criticize Israel much more often (and with more intensity) than the rest of the world. Yes, one can have the (very legitimate) opinion that Sharon is not fit for Israel (but then is Chirac fit for France?) and that Israel uses brutal methods against the Palestinians, but why stop there and not add that most Arab countries use even more brutal methods to annihilate the opposition? The simple reason why there is no civil war in Egypt, for example, is that Mubarak has killed or arrested the entire opposition. Israel has to deal with a civil war because it did "not" exterminate the Palestinians. Why not tell your people the entire story instead of focusing only on what the Jews do or don't do?
    Chirac has clear responsibility for the current wave of antisemitic attacks. Sharon simply told the truth. Something that Chirac cannot easily swallow, as we well know.
    In this case he is right to claim that he has loudly, sternly and severely condemned any antisemitic act (even one that never occurred). Let's see if he understands why a Jew (Sharon) may feel that he (Chirac) is responsible for the atmosphere that led to the antisemitic sentiment in France.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (March 2004) Banning headscarves in France. France has banned headscarves from school, because headscarves are a symbol of the Islamic faith, and French schools are supposed to be free of religious symbols.
    It is the wrong solution to the wrong problem.
    The reason we wear the clothes we wear is, ultimately, religious. The reason that women in the West hide their breasts under clothes is that Christianity considers displaying boobs a sin. Western society invented the kind of clothes we wear in order to comply with moral standards that were originally dictated by religion. The very reason that stealing and killing are considered illegal is that the Christian religion (and many other religions, but not all) consider them sins. The religious dogmas of centuries ago are largely responsible for the behavior of today's people, whether we like it or not.
    Therefore, any businessman who wears a suit and tie is, ultimately, promoting his Christian background. A female teacher who walks into a classroom wearing a shirt on top of her breast is promoting the Christian religion. By the same token, headscarves have become part of the Islamic culture, and, per se, they hardly promote Islamic faith. It is just the way women dress in that part of the world.
    There are also explicit religious symbols that France admits in school. Many children go to school wearinf a crucifix: is that going to be banned too? Most children are named after a Catholic saint: is that illegal now? Chirac is simply sending the message that Christians apply double standards when it comes to Islam.
    Chirac has his own reasons for suddenly being tough on Islam. He has lost the war in Iraq, and has been humiliated on the international and European scene. A lot of traditional French allies (from Algeria to Libya) are switching to the USA/British camp. He is now eager to reestablish France as a leader of the western world. After refusing to send soldiers in Iraq, he is sending French soldiers just about everywhere: Ivory Coast, Congo, even Haiti... And now he think he can show his leadership of the western world by enacting the strictest laws against Islam in the world. It is the wrong leadership from the wrong leader at the wrong time.
    French public opinion was largely in favor of the ban on headscarves because they feel threatened by a growing Muslim population. That "is" the real problem. Banning headscarves will not reduce the fertility of the Islamic minority, and will not stem the flow of immigrants from Islamic countries. Christians will eventually become a minority in France. Banning headscarves is a way to ignore the real issue.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (February 2004) How France lost the war. The february 18 meeting between France, Germany and Britain marks yet another step down in the decadence of France as a world power. Before the Iraqi war, no country doubted France's leadership in Europe. France had created a "motor" with Germany that drove Europe from a free-trade zone to a fully integrated union of nations. This time France had to invite Britain to join the "motor" and Britain is not the timid partner that Germany always was. In fact, it is fairly apparent that it was Germany to desire Britain in the motor. Germany's foreign minister Joschka Fischer has signaled that Germany is ready to move closer to Britain's position on many issues (including Iraq). And this mirrors a general sentiment in Germany that Germany's close relationship with France has alienated their historical links with the USA for no apparent benefit. In fact, only two countries (French-speaking and France-bordering Belgium and Luxembourg, which few non-Europeans can fin on the map) eventually joined France's and Germany's call for a separate European defense force, a clear gesture of anti-American sentiment: 16 of the 25 EUropean countries sided with the USA and Britain. Germany has been quick to distance itself from France, and send its own "troops" (although masquerading as peace corps) to help out in Iraq. Now its foreign minister has welcomed a visit by Rumsfeld (the most anti-European of American officials) to express his sympathy for the USA's vision of the Middle East, and he has used an interview to the Daily Telegraph to signal that Germany's strategic partner in Europe may now be Britain and no longer France.
    The rest of Europe complained about the trio's meeting but mainly because it had to. Truth be told, countries such as Italy and Spain, not to mention the weaker and smaller members of the European Union, see Britain as the champion of a looser federation, as the natural counterbalance to France's imperial ambitions and to France's anti-American stance. The rest of Europe has blood ties to the USA (thanks to generations and generations of immigrants) and little desire to antagonize the world's superpower more than one has to; especially since, like it or not, a more peaceful and democratic Middle East would ultimately be a boon to Europe itself, both because Europe is more dependent on Middle Eastern oil than the USA is, and because these mad Arab dictators are much closer to Europe than the USA.
    It is not a coincidence that English has become the lingua franca of the European Union institutions (despite the fact that France built a European Parliament in Strasburg that only has signs in French).
    Like it or not, all European countries are edging closer to the USA, and Chirac's public posturing is looking more and more pathetic.
    Chirac spent his life miscalculating what France's interests were. The damage he has caused to France may be the last straw that literally broke the camel's back.
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  • (September 2003) Chirac's arrogance again. Both France and Germany have violated the euro-zone law that no country can run a budget deficit higher than 3% of GDP. Just a few years ago France had threatened Italy and other countries of exclusion from the euro zone if they violated that rule. It is no surprise that France ran into trouble given that every western country is in trouble after Bush's failed economic policies reverberated abroad. But France could have handled it a little better.
    Instead, France's prime minister came up with the most arrogant of justifications: in his opinion, France's economy is too big and important to be bound to any agreement like other European members. In other words, the law says "every country" but it really means "every country except France, which is more than just a country".
    "Some countries in the euro zone are more equal than others", as Frits Bolkestein (European commissioner) commented.
    This comes after a number of serious political offences. The worst was when Chirac said "they missed a good opportunity to shut up", referring to the Eastern European countries what sided with the USA on the Iraqi war, and then threatened to veto their membership in the European Union. These is grotesque behavior in 2003. Chirac does not realize that we are no longer in the age of the French empire.
    This also comes at a time when a French politician, Valery Giscard d'Estaing, appointed by the European Union to draft a new European constitution (God only knows why the Eurobureaucrats had to pick a Frenchman out of so many ethnic groups) came up with a proposal that has angered all small countries and even Spain, a constitution that would basically dilute national representation and give France (what a coincidence) a lot more power within the European government. Couldn't they pick someone from Austria or Holland or, even better, someone outisde the European Union to draft such a constitution? Now the damage is done and smaller European countries are already upset at France for what they perceive as a coup: first you invite us to become members, and then you change the rules of the game so that you basically annex us.
    At the same time, France is famous worldwide for its stubborn determination to subsidize its farmers, an amoral behavior that not only costs the European Union billions of euros but hurts the countries of Africa (it is, de facto, an unfair trading practice). It turns out that most smaller members of the European Union are also agricultural countries, and thus they have to accept that a rich and powerful member is allowed to fund its own farmers when their poor farmers can barely survive.
    If this were not enough, Chirac has been blaming the European Commission and the European Bank for all French problems. Instead of simply admitting that France is not immune from the Bush recession, Chirac has found one excuse after the other to place the blame on the European Union. Sooner or later, he will find a reason to blame the European Union for the heatwave that killed 15,000 elderly French people abandoned by the French government last summer. breaching treaties when it is convenient
    When smaller countries protested against the new proposed constitution, a French minister implied that they could be expelled from the European Union if they are too "unreasonable". The rest of Europe has already found out which country is being "unreasonable". France should be careful about what its president says and does in the future, lest a European backlash ends up not only isolating it but also expelling it from the institution that it helped create.
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  • (June 2003) France wipes out the main Iranian dissident movement. Chirac never misses an opportunity to defend a tyrant and to fight democracy, anywhere in the world. France arrested the entire leadership of the main Iranian opposition group ("People's Mujahideen", or MKO). The official excuse is that they were planning to attack Iranian embassies across Europe.
    The People's Mujahideen has been fighting the Islamic regime for over 20 years. Massoud Rajavi had relocated the group from Paris to Iraq in 1986, from where it kept launching attacks against the Islamic regime of Iran. When the USA liberated Iraq in April 2003, they expelled the People's Mujahideen, which then relocated to France.
    These arrests took place (what a coincidence) while pro-democracy students have been rioting in Teheran for several days, helped by USA satellite broadcasts (they have now spread to several provincial cities). This is just a coincidence, right? In no way is Chirac trying to stop the pro-democratic movement in Iran... or is he?
    And, of course, this has nothing to do with the fact that Chirac has just lost his main friend in the Middle East (Saddam) and now needs a new friend in the area. This is also a mere coincidence. (The Iranian regime immediately congratulated Chirac on the arrests: he does have a new friend now).
    To protest Chirac's decision, supporters of the People's Mujahideen set themselves on fire in Paris, Switzerland and Italy. Such extreme protests had not been seen since the Vietnam war.
    The movement that Chirac has decided to destroy is also one of the few in the world (and certainly the only one in the Muslim world) which is led by a woman, Maryam Rajavi, who in 1985 became joint leader of the organisation next to her husband Massoud. Iran tried for 20 years to arrest her, but failed over and over again. Chirac succeeded where the ayatollahs failed.
    The reason some of these freedom-fighters were in France is that France used to be part of the democratic world before Chirac became president and turned France into the defender of all mad dictators in the world.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (April 2003) The losers: France, Germany and Russia. Saddam Hussein lost the power. Chirac, Schroeder and Putin lost the war. After desperately trying to save his regime, they had hoped for Saddam Hussein to resist the USA militarily. Saddam was fighting with French, Russian and German weapons. It was their weapons against the American weapons.
    Chirac, Schroeder and Putin lost the war, but they don't give up easily. They met and reaffirmed their solidarity. Chirac wants the United Nations to run post-war Iraq (i.e., he wants a piece of the pie for France). Schroeder, the worst chancellor in German history, knows that he will be voted out of office as soon as Germany holds new elections, and has a vested interest in prolonging the Iraqi crisis so that new elections are not called. Putin, the butcher of Chechnya (where Russia kills every week many more civilians than the USA killed in the entire war), wants to look strong but knows that he needs the USA more than he needs France. These three leaders are pathetic at best. It is humiliating that French, Germans and Russians have to be represented by such leaders.
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  • (March 2003) The pact of steel between Chirac and Saddam. More than any other country in the world, France has engaged in trade with Saddam Hussein's regime. Their close relationship goes back to the 1980s and have simply improved after the Gulf War and the election of Chirac to president of France. Today, France accounts for about 25% of all goods exported to Iraq and to almost 100% of all weapons sold to Iraq. In return, Iraq has signed contracts for billions of dollars with France. France is the main importer of Iraqi oil.
    France has been in violation of United Nations sanctions since 1991. During the 1990s, France repeatedly helped Saddam Hussein hide the weapons of mass destruction before United Nations inspector could find them. France was also the country that helped terminate the United Nations inspections in 1998. While the current crisis is going on, France is still selling weapons to Iraq (weapons that will be used agains the USA).
    France is doing this not for charity, but because Saddam Hussein has promised France the oil fields: there are unsigned protocols between Saddam and Chirac that would grant France the rights to exploit the largest oil fields in the Middle East, and become de facto owner of Iraqi economy. In other words, Saddam would turn Iraq into an old-fashioned French colony in return for staying in power.
    Chirac would find more understanding in the world if he just came out with the truth: the oil fields of Iraq are the future of France as a power. There is, unfortunately, nothing to be shocked about this statement: the USA does the same thing with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait (support dictators in return for the right to exploit their oil fields). By denying what is obvious and well-known, instead, Chirac is behaving like the old European colonial powers that exterminated entire peoples in the name of Jesus Christ: pretending there is a noble excuse for enslaving the rest of the world.
    Chirac, it's for the oil: just admit it, and (if nothing else) you will force your enemy George W Bush to admit that he is doing the same in other parts of the Arab world.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (March 2003) Chirac teaches the USA a lesson in political strategy

    During the second half of the 20th century two models competed for supremacy over the world: the USA model (liberal capitalism) and the Soviet model (communism). The USA won that "war", and won it in a very decisive way. Today, the whole world is adopting liberal capitalism. Now the issue is no longer "if" a country should be a capitalistic democracy. The USA is still living in the "cold war" world, and assuming that its next rival will emerge from a competing model. But it makes no sense to introduce a competing model. That war is over. Competition can only arise from liberal capitalism itself, from the "western" world itself that the USA helped mold in its own image. If the USA were ruled by Europeans (who have centuries of experience in identifying the next "enemy"), the USA would have seen long ago that Europe was the single biggest threat to its status of winner and ruler of the world.

    Instead, the USA is still single-mindedly intent in defending democracy around the world. For that reason, the USA has always supported the formation and growth of the European Union: the European Union fosters peace, democracy and stability, which are the ideals that the USA stands for. But, in reality, the European Union is also a force that can compete with the USA. And, because its leaders have centuries of experience in doing so, it will. The USA was living in the belief that Europeans would be grateful forever. But the history of Europe clearly demonstrate that gratitude lasts only as far as protection is needed. Germany was the strongest ally of the USA for as long as the Soviet Union threatened it, but, the moment the Soviet Union fell, Germany became totally indifferent towards the USA, and much more interested in its own political power.

    That is precisely what happened in 2002. Chirac and Schroeder opposed the USA over Iraq. The USA did not expect that opposition from two countries that are what they are because the USA did to Hitler what it plans to do to Saddam. But France and Germany have a different view of the world. The first major world crisis since the fall of the Soviet Union is also, by definition, the first major opportunity to create a new alternative to the USA. France is seizing it. During the "cold war", any leader in the world who did not like the USA would side with the Soviet Union. Today, any leader who does not like the USA will side with the country that opposes the USA. France is proposing itself as the new Soviet Union, the defender of all the leaders, peoples and countries that, for one reason or another, resent the USA. First and foremost, France finds a lot of supporters in the Arab world, where the USA is blamed for its double standards and for Israel's continuing occupation of Arab land. Second, France hopes to become a reference point for Africa, particularly the African dictators (from Zimbabwe to Algeria) who are ostracized by the Anglo-saxon world.

    Next, France will probably try to creat an axis with Russia and China. However, Russia and China depend heavily on the USA economy. The French (and, in general, European) economy itself depends on the USA economy. It is essential for France and Germany to disengage their economies from the USA economy. The only ace up their sleeves is the euro, the common currency that could represent the first significant alternative to the dollar in a century. The Europeans are promoting the euro everywhere, and it is likely that they will try to pay oil in dollars, an event that would sanction the euro's peer status with the dollar.

    In the meantime, Europeans will try to cement good relationships with any regime that bears a grudge against the USA, for whatever reason. The world has been becoming more and more democratic, but there are still many totalitarian regimes, all of which fear that they will be next in the list of the USA. Those are all potential friends for France. There are also democracies (such as the ones in South America) that resent being treated like garbage dumps by the USA. Those are also potential friends of Europe. There are dozens of developing countries that have been neglected by the USA for the simple reason that they do not represent business opportunities. Those are all potential friends of Europe. And there are, of course, the Islamic countries, for whose religious leaders the USA represents evil incarnate.

    It is likely that the future will surprise the naive leaders of the USA by creating a new world order, one in which the countries that invented, created and defended democracy and capitalism (namely, the Anglo-saxon countries) will be confronted by the very countries that benefited from democracy and capitalism.

    It will be another global war, although it may not be fought with nuclear missiles and air carriers: it will be fought, and won, by economic treaties. After all, that is precisely what the USA taught Europeans during the "cold war": you don't need millions of dead bodies to win a war, you can win it by simply proving that you can offer a better economy.

    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (February 2003) The pursuit of justice or the return or anti-semitism?. A law passed in Belgium in 1993 allows Belgian courts to try foreign politicians for war crimes and genocide. Despite the fact that the world is full of mad dictators who have killed scores of dissidents and minorities, Belgium has not prosecuted any foreign leader until february 2003, when a court in Belgium cleared the way to prosecute the Israeli prime minister, Sharon, of a massacre committed some 20 years ago.
    One wonders why Sharon, and why something that occurred 20 years ago, when there are plenty of crimes committed by existing regimes.
    One can't help noticing that Kim Jong Il of North Korea has a villa in Switzerland. One can't help recalling that Belgium supported Mobutu of Congo Zaire, one of the most murderous of all African dictators. After being deposed, Jean Bedel Bokassa, cannibal dictator of Centrafrica, lived comfortably for a decade in his villa at Haudricourt, in nearby France. Countless dictators and former dictators have their bank accounts in western Europe.
    Belgium has never even considered returning the wealth that it stole from Congo (and that accounts for much of Belgium's wealth of 2003) or simply declaring that its statesman who authorized the plunder of Congo were criminals, not heroes.
    European and American leaders routinely shake hands with Arab dictators who are certainly guilty of far worse crimes than Sharon's alleged complicity in the Sabra and Shatila massacres. One wonders why Belgium had to begin its crusade with the prime minister of Israel.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (January 2003) The real problem is Chirac, not Saddam. Chirac is defending Saddam Hussein for at least these reasons:
    1. The oil (France is the only "power" that does not have oil, and it has already signed lucrative contracts with Saddam Hussein that would be lost if Saddam loses power);
    2. The economy (Chirac needs a major distraction to keep the French people from realizing how devastated the French economy is);
    3. fear of terrorist attacks (France has a large Muslim popolation);
    4. A desperate struggle to remain a world power (France is more and more irrelevant in the world, and particularly in the Middle East, and the loss of its two oil-rich friends, Saddam Hussein and Qaddafi, would put an end to French history).
    To make things worse, on february 18 (Text of the French interview) Chirac has threatened and blackmailed every European country that sides with the USA: 1. Chirac is acting as if France was the only country that makes decisions for the European Union (alas, this is largely true); 2. Chirac is treating Eastern Europe as if it were another French colony; 3. Chirac is threatening the independence of sovereign states (thereby proving his democratic credentials). Incidentally, it is astonishing that the other 16 members of the European Union have not objected to being treated as mere provinces of Chirac's Empire of Europe and Mesopotamia.
    The French public opinion seems to be massively with its leader. This is not surprising. A little known French law limits freedom of expression: 60% of broadcasts is reserved for European programming, and 40% for French programming. That is the law. (There is no such law in the USA, where a station can broadcast 100% of foreign programs, and in fact many do so, for example the Hispanic tv stations). Add to the law a simple fact: most French tv and radio programs depend on public subsidies, otherwise they would be largely out of business. Which, in turn, means that many of the people who work in the media owe their salaries to the French government. It is not surprising that most French media defend their government. It is not surprising that most French people, influenced by those media, defend their government.
    A French intellectual has written that France is siding with a dictator in order to fight "American imperialism". Well, history repeats itself: in 1940 Henri Petain (leader of the Vichy Republic) preferred to side with a dictator (Hitler) than with British and American imperialism. For four years France fought alongside Hitler. Chirac is following in the footspets of Petain.
    Chirac's totalitarian "boutades" may cost France dearly, because they will eventually draw attention to France's odd status.
    Today, France's status as a "power" is a paradox: a small country with a small population, that lost World War II twice (first against the Germans and then against the Allies) and lost the colonial wars in the 1950s (Algeria and Vietnam), but that still has a permanent seat with veto power on the Security Council of the United Nations. India (one billion people, the size of Europe, nuclear arsenal) does not enjoy that status. Indonesia (200 million people), Brazil, Pakistan (another nuclear power), etc etc do not enjoy that privilege. What makes France so special? Nothing. That "is" the point: there is no reason why France should still be considered a world power. The Iraqi crisis is France's last-ditch attempt to remain a power.
    Countries such as Spain and Poland have no "power" status to defend, so they have no problem admitting what is quite obvious: Saddam is bad and must go. But for Chirac that statement is equivalent to "France will lose the only oil it can count on, and will become irrelevant in the future".
    This logic was already valid twenty years ago. What has changed? Many things: Russia has become a friend, not an enemy, of the USA; China has become the second economic power in the world; many European countries have become democracies; regional powers such as India, Nigeria, South Africa, Pakistan have become more relevant than the old European colonial powers in taking care of regional affairs.
    The United Nations as it is today is an aberration, and France is the biggest aberration within the aberration (the same logic applies to Britain, but Britain is sort of representing the Commonwealth, whereas France is truly only representing itself, its former colonies being either very small or very anti-French).
    A good way to make sure that the world is never again held hostage by France's political and economic interests is to dissolve the United Nations and to create a new organization (the United Democratic Nations), that will include only democracies and that will distribute power based on population. Decisions within this organization will be taken by majority vote and will have binding power for all members. In other words, the principle behind the European parliament. (If the European Union does not accept countries that are not democratic, why should the United Nations? If France has no veto power on the European continent, why should it have veto power on the rest of planet Earth?)
    If such an organization existed today, the vote of India would be about 20 times more important than the vote of France. Has any major newspaper in the world reported the opinion of the democratically-elected Indian government the same way they report (daily) Chirac's opinion? Why not? Why does the opinion of one billion Indian people matter zero and the opinion of 60 million French matter so much?
    Has any major newspaper in the world reported the opinion of the governments of Latin America? Why not? Why does the opinion of an entire continent matter zero and the opinion of France matter so much?
    For those who forgot, Chirac is the same madman who, despite worldwide protests, conducted a nuclear test at the Polynesian atoll of Muroroa. This is the madman who jeopardized the lives of people in Australia, New Zealand and all over the Pacific (friendly, democratic countries with no weapons of mass destruction) because he felt that the nuclear test was essential to the security of France. Do you remember the signs "Why test in Muroroa, not in France?" that welcomed Chirac wherever he went? Are you really surprised that this same criminal now protects Saddam Hussein?
    Chirac's attitude will draw attention to the oddity of a small country like France, which is not threatened by anybody, is headed by an irresponsible leader and owns 482 nuclear warheads: doesn't that constitute a major hazard for all neighboring country? And why does it need to stock smallpox? (See Who has weapons of Mass Destruction) Maybe Iraq is not the only place that needs to be disarmed.
    Chirac's attitude is drawing everybody's attention on France: France may not benefit from it.
    How to contact Chirac
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (December 2002) The geopolitics of France. France used to be an empire. In fact, it used to be the second largest empire in the world after Britain (some French historians claim that the French empire was even bigger, it all depends what you count as a "colony").
    In 1940 France lost the war against Hitler (even Mussolini invaded France). The new French government, led by Petain, allied with Hitler. Today, France pays respect to hundreds of thousands of its soldiers who died in World War II, but forgets to specify that many died while fighting on Hitler's side in Russia. France lost that war too: in 1944 the Allies (mainly USA and UK) defeated Petain and installed DeGaulle as the leader of France.
    At the end of the war, DeGaulle tried to restore French "grandeur": first, he denied Vietnam the independence that he promised (Vietnam had just helped defeat Japan) and thus started the Vietnam war (eventually, the Soviet Union would enter the war to help North Vietnam resist French intervention, and the USA would enter the war to resist Soviet intervention), and, second, he decided that Algeria was an integral part of France (as any student of geography can tell) and thus caused a civil war that lasted 8 years and caused one million deaths.
    France lost both these "colonial" wars, and had to grant independence to all the other French colonies in Africa. Suddenly, it was only a small country in a small continent while two superpowers, the USA and the Soviet Union, were fighting it out for control of the world (the "Cold War"). France had become negligible, although it kept trying to be important (for example, in 1956 it invaded Egypt along Israel, and it sent soldiers to "restore" order in many African countries). The USA made the mistake of allowing France, the old imperial power, to obtain the atomic bomb and to obtain veto power at the United Nations. In those days it was a symbolic gesture, but today it has far-reaching consequences.
    When the Soviet Union began to decline (under Gorbacev's perestroika), France had a chance to become relevant again. Unfortunately, Germany (not France) had become the economic engine of the European Union, and Britain (not France) had become the USA's main ally. Both militarily and economically, France could not claim to be a leader. In fact, very few foreigners know what France's position was in all the wars fought during the Cold War: it just didn't matter.
    Luckily for France, chancellor Schroeder destroyed the economic might of Germany.
    When Chirac became president, he immediately decided to detonate a nuclear bomb on the atoll of Muroroa, just to remind the world that France was a nuclear power. Then he realized that Germany's crisis was a French opportunity. For the first time, France had a chance to become an imperial power again, as the leader of the European Union. Chirac's foreign policy has been consistently a "European" policy. Chirac has consistently tried to force his opinion on the entire European Union. Because of Germany's weakness, which is both political (they do not have veto power at the United Nations), military (their constitution forbids them to fight wars) and economic (thanks to Schroeder's failed policies), Chirac could clearly force his opinion over countries that were either too shy (Italy) or had just joined the Union (Spain) or were much smaller. Britain decided to stay out of the eurozone (their fault). Chirac favored the expansion of the European Union to the East and the South (to countries that are unlikely to oppose French supremacy) but opposed expansion to Turkey (which would dominate the European parliament, because of its much larger population, and tends to side with the USA).
    The problem for France has always been the same: natural resources. In the age of Chirac, this means: oil. It is not a surprise, therefore, that France has always supported Arab dictators (the main customers of France's military industry). It is no surprise that France has been the main trading partner for Saddam Hussein. It is no surprise that France has signed deals with Saddam Hussein to exploit Iraq's oil fields. It is no surprise that Chirac is strongly opposed to removing Saddam Hussein: all the Iraqi opposition groups have already stated that they will *not* honor any contract signed by Saddam. What will France be without Iraq? A small European country, the size of Italy and Spain, hated by its former colonies and ignored by the real powers (USA, Russia and China).
    Chirac is fighting for the survival of his dream of an imperial France.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (April 2002) A national disaster France held the first round of elections for president (the supreme leader of the country according to the French constitution) and it was widely expected that, as usual, the top two candidates would be Jacques Chirac (the incumbent, who represents the center-right) and the leader of the socialists. Instead, Jean-Marie Le Pen, leader of the far-right and a notorious xenophobe, won second place. The second round of voting will pit him against Chirac. The left (which usually controls close to 50% of the votes in the second round) is now asking the French electorate to vote massively for Chirac in order to keep the "fascists" out of power.
    That is the real disaster. Chirac has proven to be one of the most incompetent and ineffective (and dishonest) leaders France has had since the middle ages. Compared with him, even Schroeder and Berlusconi look like good statesmen. France (and Europe) badly needed a better leader. Instead, France is now guaranteed another long period of devastating insignificance under Chirac. The country may never recover again.
    Chirac is a corrupt politician who was about to be indicted (the prosecutor, Eric Halpern, was removed from the case by his superior before he could finish the investigation).
    Chirac won less than 20% of the popular vote, the lowest score ever for an incumbent president. These are sad times for democracy: Bush became the presidency on a technicality, after being rejected by the vast majority of Americans, and Chirac's election will make that "glitch" of democracy look insignificant.
    Chirac's election to president is a gigantic embarrassment for democracy.
    The French people did the right thing: their vote was a stifling protest against the ineptitude of their leaders. Unfortunately, Europe seems to be lacking any sort of decent alternative. Germany is drifting towards a similar outcome of its own elections, when the most embarrassing chancellor of all times, Schroeder, comes up for re-election facing, basically, no credible rival.
    The question now is: are the Chiracs, the Schroeders and the Berlusconis only a temporary setback or is this a preview of the future of Europe?
    Do these people truly believe that they can compete with the aggressive and cunning policies of China, India, or even Korea, or even Thailand? Right now, even Russia looks like a modern, fast-growing, healthy economy compared with Western Europe.
    Poland, Hungary, the Czeck republic, the Baltic states and the Balkan states may want to think carefully before joining the European Union (the Chiracs, the Schroeders, the Berlusconis). The very same day that the French political system collapsed, Hungarians voted Peter Medgyessy, a moderate socialist with very solid economic references, into power. In France very few people voted. In Hungary 71% voted. Why should Hungary join a France-dominated union rather than France join Hungary?
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • France and the death penalty (July 2001) In previous centuries, France used to have a fascination with the death penalty, but in recent years France has become a strong opposer of the death penalty. Now that France has joined the ranks of countries that outlawed the death penalty, any country that still has the death penalty is considered barbaric. In fact, the death penalty is one of the main reasons the French media condemn the United States. Welcome to civilization.
    But, at the same time, France should face the truth: France still has a form of death penalty, and it kills a lot more prisoners than in the United States, and it kills many prisoners who were in jail for trivial crimes, not for capital crimes. In 1999 alone (the last year that statistics are available), 124 prison inmates committed suicide. This compares with the number of people executed in countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia, and dwarfs the number of people executed in the United States.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • Iraq commands and France obeys (December 1999) The security council of the United Nations was supposed to vote on a new arms inspection system for Iraq. Britan and the U.S. fashioned the new agreement so not to lose face and keep a little bit of the effectiveness of the old system. The compromise was so pathetic that even Russia, Iraq's best friend in the world, decided to go along with it. Approval was taken for granted. Until Saddam spoke. Saddam simply let the French know that, if the United Nations approves the new program, Iraq will simply cancel all oil contracts with France. France one more time showed the kind of world power it is: it immediately asked the United Nations to postpone voting on this program and threatened to veto it.
    The day after, Iraq denied access to the other inspectors, the ones who check its compliance with the non-proliferation treaty. These inspections occur routinely in all countries that signed that treaty, and are unrelated to the United Nations inspections that target Iraq. Iraq is obviously desperate to hide something very important, and is using the French government's cowardice and stupidity to achieve its goal.
    France has been working for Saddam since the end of the Gulf war. There is growing evidence that the French informed Saddam of every move by the inspectors: the Iraqis always knew in advance which buildings would be inspected, and managed to save and hide considerable amounts of chemical and nuclear weapons. Basically, Saddam has been blackmailing France for 8 years and France has been giving in, indifferent to the fate of the planet if Saddam ever uses his weapones of mass destruction. Now Saddam is so assured of his power over France that he can literally tell them what to do.
    France's world power status has always been questionable (after all, France lost the second world war twice, first against the Germans and then against the Allied). Now it is truly getting pathetic: it is Iraq, not France, the fifth country to enjoy veto power at the United Nations.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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