Eating Sarko

There is no question that President Nicolas Sarkozy is a master political manipulator. On the domestic front he trumped both left and right, bringing Socialists into his cabinet, setting them at each others’ throats. At the same time, showing his true colors, he moved quickly to confront the unions and students over early retirement, probationary work guarantees, university places for all who want them. Note how his “reforms” are all about taking away rights, not giving people more. He also cleverly borrowed a soupçon of Le Pen’s anti-Arab jingoism for his broth.

In a recent debate between Marine Le Pen, vice president of the National Front of France and heir to her notorious father, and Tariq Ramadan, the Egyptian-Swiss intellectual, grandson of founder of the Muslim Brotherhood Hassan Al-Banna, dubbed the Muslim Martin Luther, both agreed that Sarkozy and his ilk pose the biggest threat to Europe’s social fabric. Le Pen grumbled that they steal arguments and votes from the NF; Ramadan complained that they make Le Pen’s ideas acceptable to the average voters.

Ex-Mossad agent Sarko is able to piggy-back on the Zionist stranglehold in European intellectual life to cow the likes of Le Pen into dropping their anti-Jewish rhetoric and focus their racist instincts on Muslims. At the same time, he is able to build on the Thatcherite legacy to undermine the welfare state. In less than a year in office, he has thrown together this poisonous stew and serves it up as his new program to meet the demands of 21st century France.

Ramadan is one of the few media personalities who is given a chance to counter this slide towards a Euro-Reich, arguing that forcing Muslim immigrants to abandon their traditions, capitulating to the likes of Sarko, merely reinforces racism. “What we need is a new narrative, a new ‘we’, a multicolored, multicultural European identity. Europeans need to psychologically integrate that into their world view.” This is light-years from the subtle but inherently racist project that Sarko is busy trying to implement. By the way, he is not always subtle, as his hate-filled reference to Arabs as scum when minister of interior in Jacques Chirac’s cabinet revealed.

On the international scene, Sarko has been even busier, if that’s possible, despite the lack of any clear foreign policy program in his election campaign. In addition to his reputation as a latter-day Tartuffe, Sarkozy is also being called a reincarnation of Pétain, the general who governed Nazi-occupied France from 1939-45, allowing the Germans (read: Americans) to carry out their imperial agenda without any French resistance. This rather startling parallel of current European politics with the 1930s has also surfaced, of all places, in the Czech Republic, where citizens are strongly against one of Sarko’s pet schemes — to tear Kosovo away from Serbia, seeing it as a reenactment of the Munich agreement of 1938, when Britain served up Sudetenland to the Nazis, which was completely illegal not to mention immoral. Strikingly, Russia played and is now playing the role of the only major power to oppose such submission to the imperial bully du jour.

So far opposition to the present world bully is weak. While France, Germany and with some delay Spain refused to tow the line on Iraq, the election of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and now Sarkozy has undone this feeble protest. However, Russia’s resistance to US world plans has begun to gain respect around the world, even in once hostile Eastern Europe, with Poland and Bulgaria being the latest to begin thawing their relations with Russia, responding to popular pressure, despite unremitting anti-Russia US/European media.

One startling development — remember, Sarko’s been at the helm of state less than a year — is either a pièce de résistance or a recipe for disaster, depending on your culinary tastes. During a visit 15 January to the UAE, he unveiled his plan to set up France’s first permanent naval base in the Gulf, just across from Iran. The base will be built in Abu Dhabi, and is intended to put France in the big league alongside the US in the Middle East. The agreement is a “sign to all that France is participating in the stability of this region of the world,” Sarko told reporters. “France responds to its friends. France and the Emirates signed a reciprocal defense accord in 1995. Our friends from the Emirates asked that a base with 400 personnel be opened.” Earlier accords were signed with the threat of Iraq under Saddam Hussein in mind; today it is Iran that is the bête-noire, awaiting invasion by the US and France , to be served up as Sarko’s latest cordon bleu monstrosity. Or so this megalomaniac imagines in his wild fantasies.

The closest French military base to the Gulf is in Djibouti , a former French colony on the Red Sea . That base will be scaled back as a result of the new one. “This is quite a revolution,” said an anonymous French government official. “We are no longer in our historic sphere of influence. Now we’re in a country we never colonised.” Out with the old imperialism, in with the new.

Does he need a reminder about the bloody wars for Algerian and Vietnamese independence? Dien Bien Phu, anyone? How clever — arm Hussein to the teeth (good for the French arms industry), frighten his UAE neighbors into giving you bases, then use them to attack Iran . Is this really happening?

It is in this context that we must consider his supposedly enlightened offer to compliant Arab states to provide nuclear energy cooperation. The Emirates will soon start construction on a $6 billion nuclear reactor with the generous assistance of France’s EDF. Egypt has been offered a similar radioactive white elephant. Another brilliant coup — bring coals to Newcastle and sell them for big bucks. In the land of the eternal sun, floating on a sea of oil, get your “friends” to pay you billions of euros to build radioactive furnaces which produce eternal waste. The quintessential snake oil salesman. I rest my case.

Quelle affreux. There are a few cracks in his many dishes, however. His inimitable ex-wife Cecilia did her level best to stab him in the back, leaving him very publicly at a crucial moment in his political intrigues — her stand-up of not one but two US presidents at Kennebunkport last autumn is the stuff of legend. She recently published tell-all memoirs revealing his 4 am Karaoke and booze-laced shenanigans with ladies of the night while France was burning, the result of his stand-off with the unions. He has shown his inner Tartuffe more than once on his numerous frantic visits to Russia, America and Africa . He was forced to flip-flop on his plan to scuttle the 35 hour work week, one minute saying it was toast, the next — the bedrock of the state’s understanding with labor.

Despite a flurry of appointments and speeches about a new relationship with Africa, demanding less corruption and more democracy, etc., there is little likelihood that his southern neighbors will pay any attention to him. His diplomatic coup of saving Bulgarian nurses in Libya and of retrieving adoption agents kidnapping Chadian children left him with more egg on his face than on his platter. As a cook he is just too ambitious, introducing spices and turning up the flame in a seemingly chaotic manner as he tries to win approval.

And just as he is able to manipulate liberal left and chauvinist right to forge an unholy alliance and pursue his Petainesque neocon-neoliberalism, he is stirring up leftists, true French patriots and anti-neocon conservatives into a new French résistance.

Pétain or Tartuffe? Whatever he is, we are sure to be in for more indigestion. Let’s hope that’s all.

Eric Walberg is a journalist who worked in Uzbekistan and is now writing for Al-Ahram Weekly in Cairo. He is the author of From Postmodernism to Postsecularism: Re-Emerging Islamic Civilization and Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games. Read other articles by Eric, or visit Eric's website.

8 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Michael Kenny said on January 30th, 2008 at 12:17pm #

    I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard in a long time. Certainly not since Mr Walberg last delivered himself of one of his tirades! Sarko the Mossad agent! I loved it! Calling Arabs “scum”? He didn’t! Hitler an agent of the Americans! And Petain, who goverened the part of France NOT occupied by the Germans and only after the Frenach defeat in 1940! Kosovo, Sarko’s pet scheme! The Czech Republic as the only place in Europe which opposes Bush’s, not Sarko’s plans! France wanting to invade Iran! And, of course, he is so ignorant of what is happening in France that he doesn’t realise that Sarko has not succeeded in implementing any part of his policy and his popularity is in the toilet because of it! The latest toes he has walked on are those of the taxi drivers! The man is fast becoming a figure of ridicule and his amorous escapades is adding mightily to that!

    “Is this really happening?”, asks Mr Walberg. Well, no, as a matter of fact, it isn’t!

  2. Pierre said on January 30th, 2008 at 3:43pm #

    LOL. That’s the one. I’m unsubscribing.

  3. Harmoon said on January 31st, 2008 at 1:54am #

    In a broader spectrum, ex-Mossad, with dual French-Isreali loyalty; we have many of them in US. they consider themselves ultimate winners: fill up their pockets, manipulate internal affairs of western countries, and change the direction of foreign policies to the like of Zionist agenda. Western societies are not themselves that innocent either, with dierty bag of racism, arrogance, and self centrism they ask for it. One fact for sure characters like Sarkozy are snake oil salesman, after all they are repeating the same mantra that are done before. they cheat and steal and the future will pay for it.

  4. heike said on January 31st, 2008 at 6:50am #

    This is so typical of the kind of “journalism” practiced by DV and the people who write for it. Put out any accusation that is designed to discredit the “enemy,” no matter how fantasy-filled it may be. Never check the facts. As far as the “Mossad” caper is concerned, Le Figaro reported that the accusations were part of an e-mail sent by an anonymous poison-pen writer from an internet cafe in Val-Oise.

    Les policiers ont découvert que le message est parti d’un cybercafé du Val-d’Oise.

    In the blogosphere, there are hundreds of people waiting to jump at the opportunity to spread these kinds of lies because they advance their own political agenda. Papers such as Al-Ahram, which W. writes for, simply spread the story as the unvarnished “truth.” The fact that Le Figaro reported this caper is twisted to suggest that they confirmed the gist of the story. This is a typical disinformation tactic that has been used for decades. The KGB used to plant stories in Indian papers that were prepostrous but then they could go back and claim, “as the Indian paper xxx reported,”

    The “Petain” business was spread by a Maoist French professor, who has his own political agenda, but isn’t taken seriously by most folks in his home country. France was occupied from 1940-44, not 1939-45, and the southern part of the country was occupied from November 1942-August 1944. I have carefully gone through Czech-language sources on Kosovo. Most of them report the concerns of other states in Europe regarding minority separation, but very few deal with the Sudetenland. Hardly anyone takes seriously the possibility that the Sudeten Germans would use the Kosovo experience to try to “reannex” their territory. Yes, some people in Europe have given up the “right to return.” The people who are most vocal in the CR about the issue are from the Communist Party of Czech and Moravia (KSCM).

    If you have to put out such blatant lies and disinformation to make your “point,” how much validity is there to your assertions?

  5. Mulga Mumblebrain said on February 2nd, 2008 at 6:15pm #

    Methinks you protest too much heike. The article contains some schoolboy errors of history, but to decry its message as ‘fantasy’, ‘blatant lies’ and ‘disinformation’ goes too far, I believe. You’ve got to broaden your mind!
    You mention the KGB leaking false stories to Indian papers, but give no concrete details. Surely you are not implying that it was the perfidious Communists alone who practiced these tactics?It is another well-known tactic to leak a truth, but one somewhat distorted so it can be denounced as a fabrication, along with the truth beneath. One is put immediately in mind of the smearing of de Villepin when he was presented with what, allegedly, turned out to be false evidence of misbehaviour by Sarkozy. When he did his duty, and investigated the allegations, he was denounced as if he concocted the allegations himself. Voila! An obstacle to Sarkozy’s rise is removed, by a clever set-up. Now, tell me, heike, from your extensive research, who do you imagine set up de Villepin?
    Of course, there is even the possibility that Mr Walberg is himself either a willing or duped conduit for disinformation. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. There is a tremendous effort underway to enlist Europe into the ‘Clash of Civilizations’. Pro-Israeli agitation and intrigue has led to the despicable situation that most of the European regimes are turning a blind eye to the increased repression, murder and dispossession of the Palestinians, for fear of being branded ‘anti-Semitic’ and bullied by the US, if they do otherwise. NATO is being turned into a military arm of Western neo-colonial exploitation, in Afghanistan, so far, but planned to spread throughout the world if the Boss in Washington so decides. Ultimately, of course, Europe is intended not only to be a loyal satrap to Israeli and US plans in the Middle East, but in the coming wars with Russia and China. These may be Cold Wars, or perhaps not. The determination of the US to set up first-strike facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic, the so-called ‘missile defence’ fraud, shows the US is still ruthlessly determined to reduce Russia to satrap status, hoping no doubt to intervene in Russian politics and install a new Yeltsin, or something worse. Then it will be China’s turn. Where Europe sits in such confrontations depends on the true character and motivations of the likes of Sarkozy. I myself believe it very possible Sarkozy is more than merely sympathetic to Israel and the US. But only time will tell.

  6. Eric Walberg said on February 4th, 2008 at 5:16am #

    I enjoyed reading the various comments, though some were distortions and others mistaken readings:

    >Calling Arabs “scum”? He didn’t!
    He did. This was widely reported (NTY)

    >Hitler an agent of the Americans!
    ? Petain an agent of Germans, Sarko an agent of the Americans. Try reading again.

    >Kosovo, Sarko’s pet scheme!
    “One of his pet schemes” France and Germany were very much involved in the whole process of occupying Kosovo and supporting the bandit “freedom fighters” and will recognise the Repub of K the moment it is declared.

    >he doesn’t realise that Sarko has not succeeded in implementing any part of his policy and his popularity is in the toilet

    Try reading what I write – that’s exactly what I say.

    >“Is this really happening?”
    Yes, unfortunately. And there will be lots more to come.

    >Le Figaro reported that the accusations were part of an e-mail sent by an anonymous poison-pen writer from an internet cafe in Val-Oise
    -”poison-pen”? maybe “truthful pen”? It was reported with lots of details about his accomplices, and it all adds up. Check the original Figaro. They have no reason to defame their conservative ally.

    >KGB used to plant stories in Indian papers
    Yes, yes. the nasty commies. Are you by chance a McCain supporter?

    >The “Petain” business was spread by a Maoist French professor, who has his own political agenda, but isn’t taken seriously by most folks in his home country.
    You really have your hand on the French pulse. This again was widely reported, and I suspect any intelligent Frenchperson will agree.

    >1940-44, not 1939-45
    Thanks.

    >Hardly anyone takes seriously the possibility that the Sudeten Germans would use the Kosovo experience to try to “reannex” their territory.
    Am I too fast for you? I was merely saying that Czechs have this memory of Western betrayal etched in their DNA and react vicerally to the odious machinations of the new imperial bully.

    >most vocal in the CR about the issue are from the Communist Party of Czech and Moravia (KSCM).

    which of course means the comparison is evil and sinister – you really are a McCain supporter, then?

    >Europe is intended not only to be a loyal satrap to Israeli and US plans in the Middle East, but in the coming wars with Russia and China

    well said.

    a mistake my critics missed: it is Jourdain – Moliere’s Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme – who is the prototype for Sarko. And my revised version ends: . And just as he is using the Islamophbia card to gain a base in the Gulf, he is pushing Iran and Egypt into finally renewing diplomatic relations after almost 30 years. Pétain or Jourdain? Whatever he is, we are sure to be in for more indigestion and continued efforts by us — his victims — to find bromides.

    I welcome comments about my other “tirades”. Would that we lived in a world that didn’t need them.

  7. heike said on February 4th, 2008 at 6:52am #

    In reply to your comments:
    1) Corbeau means poison pen writer in colloquial French. That’s what Le Figaro called him, noting that the use of the Val D’Oise internet cafe was designed to insure there would be no traces. You can call him anything you like, but that doesn’t change the way Le Figaro reported it. I was objecting to media taking the story and making it into something that it wasn’t. You’re obviously inclined to believe any slanders against Sarkozy because you simply don’t like his political positions.
    2) Yes, the commies were and are a nasty bunch of people, responsible for wars, occupation and genocide.
    3) No, I’m not a Mc Cain supporter. It is so typical of you that you even ask that question — is that the limitation of your world view? Anyone who disagrees with you HAS to be a McCain supporter? Why don’t you grow up?
    4) Don’t try to change your words now:
    …Czech Republic, where citizens are strongly against one of Sarko’s pet schemes — to tear Kosovo away from Serbia, seeing it as a reenactment of the Munich agreement of 1938

    You said the citizens are STRONGLY AGAINST Kosovo’s independence. You don’t have a single source for that allegation. As I wrote, I have gone through many Czech language sources and fail to find any support for your allegation. It is to be understood that the KSCM will oppose anything promoted by the Western alliance, and yes, they are headed by a bunch of people who have refused to come to terms with the crimes committed by their forebears.

    5) Now that you’re asking questions, I’d like to address some to you:

    a) You wrote that only “Zionists” have condemned the Protocols as a forgery. Does that mean you accept that the Protocols are a genuine document?

    b) Who is the “imperial bully” in this case? You don’t think that Muslims in former Yugoslavia have justified grievances against the Serbs?

  8. heike said on February 5th, 2008 at 2:18pm #

    By the way, he is not always subtle, as his hate-filled reference to Arabs as scum when minister of interior in Jacques Chirac’s cabinet revealed.

    More disinformation. He never called Arabs scum. His remarks were directed at rioters who had held French towns under siege and were nighly burning an average of 90 vehicles in 2005. The actual word he used in French was racaille, meaning rabble. The word had been used by one of his ministerial colleagues three years earlier, but who then criticized S. for using the same term.

    //Among those criticising Sarkozy’s inflammatory language has been France’s equal opportunities minister, Azouz Begag, although as Le Monde observes, the minister himself had already coined the term in quieter times in 2002 to describe a “group of young people who frighten everyone, who ride scooters without helmets, ride on the pavements with no regard for pedestrians, and ignore traffic lights just as they challenge all other codes of social conduct”.//

    http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/news/archives/2005/11/08/inflammatory_language.html

    If you are the Minister of Interior of your country, charged with keeping law and order, and you are confronted by rioters night after night, what word would be appropriate to use? Nice little teenagers, please don’t burn your neighbors’ cars, now.