Francois Hollande has come into his own. After nearly bankrupting France and raising taxes so aggressively that he has driven many of France's best and brightest abroad, Hollande has found his voice as a wartime president. He is leading the charge against "terrorists" around the world.
US president Harry Truman admitted to failing at numerous professions before discovering his calling in politics and eventually being elevated to the highest office in the land after FDR's untimely death. Truman immediately gave the order to murder hundreds of thousands of Japanese by dropping two horrible bombs on them and never looked back.
Today, the US mainstream media and its court historians deem Truman a heroic figure. So it may be with Hollande. France is drenched in blood and Hollande is determined to spill more. Not content with imposing an open-ended state of emergency on France, Hollande is now appealing to British Labour MPs to support bombing in Syria.
According to The Times, President Hollande "issued a dramatic appeal to British Labour MPs … to allow the UK to join the bombing campaign against Islamic State in Syria, further isolating Jeremy Corbyn, the party's leader."
France's Socialist leader said that action was needed "to defend our vision of mankind". "I do hope that the House of Commons will be able to meet the request of the prime minister," he told a news conference in Malta.
Later he made clear that he was addressing all MPs, and asked them to "show solidarity with France". Tom Watson, the deputy Labour leader, joined a growing mutiny against Mr Corbyn's refusal to allow a free vote on the issue, saying that he believed that "there is an imminent terrorist threat being directed from Syria".
It is ironic that Jeremy Corbin is being attacked for wanting to keep Britain from escalating its involvement in the Syrian quagmire. British citizens are furious with Tony Blair for lying about Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction," and hauling Britain into a terrible, futile war that killed or wounded so many British troops.
But now Britain is getting ready to do it again – at the behest of France this time instead of the US. But it amounts to the same thing. Those who speak out against escalation are being excoriated as naïve and worse. Corbyn is apparently about to suffer this fate.
In addition to agitating for his version of an anti-Syrian "coalition of the willing," Hollande is suspending civil rights in France. The well-respected (admittedly leftist) magazine Mother Jones points out, "France has embraced and even surpassed some of America's most draconian responses to terror. In the name of security, the French public has been more willing than Americans ever were to let their government spy on citizens, conduct warrantless raids, and restrict rights of free speech and assembly."
Mother Jones quotes Jonah Levy, a France expert "who teaches comparative politics at the University of California-Berkeley," as observing that "the differences boil down to governing philosophies."
Levy points out that the US has checks and balances to maintain a system where the government does little or no harm. France, he says, has built a system that centralizes power in the presidency. The French generally have a more "positive view of the state," and the French president acts as a kind of elected monarch.
I'm a little puzzled by Levy's statement because truthfully I don't see much difference between systems at this point. The US is basically run by unelected bankers, businesspeople and military leaders who seek additional globalization and are constantly implementing policies to move the country in that direction.
Part of the process involves constant interference in the sociopolitical and economic affairs of other countries. The US has hundreds of military bases around the world and, together with the other "four eyes," the US implements violent regime change on behalf of shadowy power brokers.
This is just what Hollande is trying to do. Bombing Syria is not going to forestall further violence in France. In fact, such actions will surely increase the chaos and over time add to the bloodletting.
The US invaded Iraq and Afghanistan to avenge 9/11. Today, the US cannot extricate itself from Afghanistan even though it is a bloody morass that has cost the lives and limbs of thousands of servicemen and women. Iraq meanwhile has been poisoned by depleted uranium weapons to the point where doctors advise women in parts of the country not to have babies because so many infants are born with birth defects.
But Hollande has found his voice! He bays for blood and lobbies Britain to join him in bombing Syria. The Middle East mistakes of the past decade are about to be repeated. And actually, after a point one cannot call them "mistakes." These are, in my view, predetermined programs. The idea was always to apply the necessary amount of force to remove Assad – and Hollande is just taking advantage of what he can to move his country and the West in that direction.
Hollande has had much to say about liberty and the superiority of Western values but in removing his citizens' civil rights, he is making France no better a place to live and work than various authoritarian countries, including some in the Middle East.
I recently appeared on a Canadian television program and was asked my opinion of what's going on in France and how the West ought to respond. I pointed out that violence breeds violence and that Hollande was leading France down a path that would certainly result in even more terrorists attacks. The best thing that Hollande could do would be to de-escalate and march French troops home again.
Of course, libertarian politician and Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul has suggested the same remedy for the US. Famously, Ron Paul speaks of "blowback," the idea that by attacking countries and populations, the US creates enemies that will try to do the same in return.
In fact, the US is far down this bloody road. The military is increasingly idolized – at least in public – and polls show a significant number of US citizens believe a military government might be preferable to the current civilian one.
Meanwhile, politicians at both the local and federal level in the US suggest that people become more "aware" of the domestic terrorist threat and alert authorities to any activities they consider suspicious. Such suggestions, if insisted upon, turn whole populations into a kind of sullen surveillance mechanism. Nothing much ever gets exposed but the paranoia climbs steadily.
What kind of society is subject to such psychological flim-flammery? Mass surveillance removes freedoms but does little else. One is tempted to ask in this regard, "Who are the real terrorists?" I'll leave you to your own conclusions …
Personally, I don't want to live in such a society. Or if I have to do so, I'll take action to provide myself and my family with alternatives, with what we call "lifestyle insurance" – second homes, additional passports and alternative financial arrangements that are effectively internationalized … All these are solutions that provide additional options at a time when they are increasingly necessary.
History may eventually portray Francois Holland and other Western politicians as heroes taking action against "radical Islam." But I'm living through this particular era and I know the truth is a great deal more complicated than what the mainstream media pretends it is.
I'm not satisfied with living in an environment where my freedoms are gradually erased while civil society around me is poisoned by irrational security demands that make life more difficult without increasing my personal safety.
I'll do what's necessary to give myself and my family more and better options. We don't need to look to politicians to help keep us "safe." If we open our eyes, we can see for ourselves.
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