That’s it: end of summer vacations, back to work, school or, preferably, the french chronicles. France is gripped by the difficult question of the massive arrival of migrants in Europe, symbolised here by the Calais beach shantytown, but the dimension of which is forcing the establishment to get its head out of the sand of the said beach: 340 000 refugees have entered the EU since the beginning of 2015, a human wave not seen here since WWII.
Calais is the bottleneck for those seeking to rejoin the UK where many have relatives and where police controls – thanks to the absence of ID cards – are less obnoxious than in many other parts of Europe. The French governement was hoping to maintain a sort of status quo together with the British: more fences, more police, and just enough humanitarian aid to not appear totally inhumane. That posture is being shaken by Germany, which is opening its doors to migrants: Chancellor Merkel has said that they are welcome in Germany, and the population, bar the small nationalist minority, is happy with that.
What a shock to the French establishment, always posturing about its « republican values », being outflanked by a country pictured as rigid and insensitive to the sufferings of others! Merde alors, we got to do something! So Prime Minister Manuel Valls made the trip to Calais together with a couple of high-ranking EU officials, and promised the construction of a « humanitarian » camp for 1 500 people, to open in early 2016.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve did specify that France was going to stay tough on immigration, and that in his view 60% of incomers were « illegal », attracted by economic opportunity alone, and would be sent back. Given that there are currently 2 500 to 3 000 refugees in Calais, I suspect what Valls and Cazeneuve really have in mind is to build a prison camp for « illegal » refugees, as much as possible on the back of european money.
A lot of head-scratching went on following the German « coming out »: why do they seem happy with welcoming migrants, when most countries appear very unhappy about this? It seems that a key aspect is the political weight of the nationalist right. Germany has a violent but very marginal far-right, but many countries – including France with its National Front attracting between 20 and 30% of the national vote (1) – have a strong nationalist party, thus dictating a closed posture to otherwise mainstream politicians afraid of losing voters if the appear « soft » on immigration. This hypocrisy has now beautifully come to light. Another aspect, of course, is the fact that Germany has a serious population deficit and needs immigrants to keep the machine rolling. This is also true of France, but to a lesser degree thanks the relatively generous maternity benefits and child-care services available here.
The refugee crisis is a direct consequence of the destruction of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya by Western moronic military action – France being the moronic leader in the case of Libya. This chaos spawned Daech and the current nightmarish situation is the Middle East, now with millions of Syrians also running for their lives. The French army general Vincent Desportes said as much this morning on State radio France Culture, clearly pinning the blame on the USA and France. Blaming islamists and Assad for the crisis just isn’t good enough.
Talking of morons, our current top of the charts (a hotly disputed position here, I have to say) is, again, pseudo-philosopher ex-playboy warmonger Bernard Henri-Levy better known, to the public in general and to pie throwers in particular, as BHL. He was instrumental in selling the Libyan attack to the French public and loves to be seen with hysterical, autocratic figures Nicolas Sarkozy and Manuel Valls. Granted, he has a mesmerising wife…
BHL, thus, was recently portrayed in the company of Kurdish forces facing Daech (2).
I just don’t believe it. Any sharpshooters awake on the Daech side? But this isn’t the first time this cretin has set himself up as a fashion magazine freedom fighter: he did the same in Benghazi, before and after the French attack leading to the killing of Kadhafi. He was also in Kiev supporting Maidan.
A number of « heroic » pictures of BHL are in fact suspected to be spoofs, such as this one with « Syrian freedom fighters »:
Anyway, you get the picture. But this guy, also very close to the Jewish lobby (as is Manuel Valls), has influence, and that is a problem.
My last item on this chronicle is the implosion of the french « green » party, Europe-Ecologie-les-Verts (EELV for short). Created in 2010 from the national green party « les Verts » and a political construct made up in 2009 for the european elections – where they did well – the EELV party had high hopes of making a real impact on national politics.
But things didn’t turn out as hoped, and the 2012 presidential elections were a disaster. The candidate, ex-high-level judge Eva Joly, a french-norvegian bi-national best known for her inquisition in the Elf Aquitaine politico-financial scandal of the late Mitterand years, just wasn’t armed for this. In-fighting, unreadable political alliances with either the governing Socialists or the far-left Front de Gauche, have contributed to the recent crash.
For EELV co-founder and well known figure Daniel Cohn-Bendit, who bailed out long ago, EELV is now nothing but an empty shell. So what next for political ecology in France? It is a fact that ecology has made its way into the mainstream parties, no one today hoping to win an election can brush ecological matters aside. At least rhetorically. And that may be the greens’ most important victory, to have made ecology part and parcel of mainstream politics. France will soon host the latest international conference on climate change, known as COP21. Not much is expected to come out of that, as nothing much ever came out of such green-washed posturing, but the topic is alive and well.
The funny part is that the COP21 organisers just warned that they didn’t have enough money to close their 187 million euro budget, by over one million euros. What on earth do they spend it on? Fuel for the private jets of dignitaries, I guess. 40 000 people are expected to participate. Presumably, they are not paying their way nor their stay in Paris. This sounds like one burning hell of a gravy train coming down here on the climate railroad.
Feel free to review my previous french chronicles here.