France's Dirty, Dirty Politics
by Eric Margolis: Return
of the Cold War: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
France's presidential elections are only two weeks away. President
Nicholas Sarkozy, who was trailing in the polls behind Socialist
Challenger Francois Hollande, is now running neck-a-neck in the
Sarkozy, has made a pact with the devil.
First, in an
incredible stroke of luck for the wildly unpopular Sarkozy, the
man who should have been France's next president, former IMF chief
Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK), was ruined by sordid sex scandals.
Disgraced bad boy DSK is now preposterously charged with pimping
and sexual criminal conspiracy. The Strauss-Kahn scandal saved Sarko's
goat: polls showed Sarkozy would have been soundly beaten by DSK.
system is notoriously obedient to political power. Sarkozy is clearly
beating political dead horse Strauss-Kahn to smear the opposition
Socialist Party, whose star the ex-IMF chief once was. French politics
are notoriously dirty and sleazy.
Viagra-fuelled sexual escapades with ladies of the night and females
who came too close proved a major misfortune for France. Strauss-Kahn
was likely the only politician who could have imposed desperately-needed
reforms on France's sagging economy and bloated welfare state.
murder of seven people in Toulouse by a deranged youth of North
African background that horrified France. Sarkozy, his allies and
the right-wing media launched a blitz of scare stories about alleged
"Islamic terrorism,"the suspect's supposed links to al-Qaida,
and fear of foreigners. In a scene straight from the classic film
"Casablanca,"Sarko ordered his security forces to arrest
the usual Muslim suspects who had nothing to do with the Toulouse
played to France's growing xenophobia and prejudice against Islam
by warning of Muslim conspiracies, and demanding the number of "foreigners"in
France be curtailed. Pretty rich, considering that Sarkozy was the
offspring of Hungarian Jewish immigrants. But his rightwing supporters
ate this up with gusto. Now, Sarko and his men are crying about
the dire threat of Muslim halal meat (though not Kosher. France
has 600,000 Jews who are fierce Sarkozy supporters).
Sarkozy's warnings of the supposed evils of the Islamization of
France are luring voters way from the far right, neo-Vichy National
Front of Marine Le Pen. Sarko fears she may grab enough votes on
the right to deny him a first ballot victory on 22 April, or even
knock him out of the race. The amazingly coincidental Toulouse massacre
may just save the day for Sarko.
interviewed Marine's father, Jean-Marie. He was beating the anti-Muslim
drums back in the 1980's and warning that "immigration equals
invasion."He had a great one liner-for me: "You Americans
took California away from Mexico. Now, by immigration, they are
taking it back." Many French share his views. In the 1930's,
the French right made Jews the enemies of mankind; today, the alleged
culprits are Muslims. This noxious tendency has also infected US
The hard left
has also come back to life in France, threatening to draw votes
from center-left candidate Hollande. Politicians across Europe have
been swept from office by a tide of anger over economic woes. Strange
things could happen in France which has a tradition of radicalism
and anarchism. But as of now, the Sarko-Hollande race still looks
close, but Islamophobia is allowing Sarko to nose ahead.
of the candidates have addressed France's severe economic problems
or its growing lack of competiveness. Both Sarko and Hollande vow
to raise taxes. Holland promises to hire 60,000 new teachers to
boost employment, a crazy scheme at a time when France has far too
many sociology teachers, bureaucrats, and government employees,
and spends 56% of GDP on government. Hollande wants a 75% top tax.
The Socialists defend their beloved and quite lunatic 35-hour work
week, which has further undermined the competitiveness of French
industry and service sector.
The basic problem
is that in spite of chronic grumbling, French live in one of the
world's most beautiful, best-run, civilized countries. France must
slash government spending, lower sky-high taxes, liberalize the
economy and stop borrowing. French don't want to change but must
at some point. Vilifying Muslims or banning halal meat is not going
to address these issues.
him mail] is the author of War
at the Top of the World and the new book, American
Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the
West and the Muslim World. See his
© 2012 Eric Margolis
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