A Franco-Russian Union

The emergence of such initiatives is always a good sign even if it is a little late to the game. I would say that crisis creates change and as such nature has its own way. A number of viewpoints are expressed below both by the authors and our guest editor. Our editor has been most generous in helping publish this piece, bringing in his vast knowledge in Soviet studies and an astute command of the complex Russian perspective.

I would also like to thank the great effort by our translators without whom this would not be possible.

My own views centre more around the need to put a human element in discourse. The heart and mind go hand in hand and as such I am always skeptical when one is ignored.  I believe this proposal,fundamentally, has both heart and mind in it.

Written by: Jean-Paul Baquiast and Jean-Claude Emperuer
Originally published by: The French Saker
Translated by: Elena L. & Alice S.
Editor: Rufus Magister

AE


It was decided to write this text, which is still under discussion, on behalf of the editorial committee of “Solidarity of Europe”.  It is signed by Jean-Paul Baquiast and Jean-Claude Emperuer (in alphabetical order).[1]

Introduction

We have previously shown[2] that if Europe does not free itself from more than sixty years of domination by the US, it will forever remain a simple tool, continually exploited for their main project, which is the destruction of Russia.  Liberation from this suzerainty should bring Europe closer to the geopolitical formation of the BRICS countries[3], which is still under construction.  Subsequently, Europe and the BRICS [together] will become a force capable of resisting American power, which long remain stronger than the European or the BRICS individually. On this basis, we can draw two conclusions:

* Europe is too diverse and too riddled with American influence for anyone to suppose that it can solidly and quickly enough join, or at least form a strategic partnership with, the BRICS countries. Acting individually, i.e. overcoming the diplomatic limitations dictated by the European Union, European countries would have to take the initiative and negotiate on their own behalf.

* TheBRICS countriesare still toodifferent from,and some of themare quite distantfrom, Europe, which will makecomprehensive negotiationswith themdifficultin the near future; however, incertain circumstances,such would still be possible. The Europeansshould find new preferred [“privliegirovannykh” literally privileged] partners[4]who sharewith themas many common goals as possible.

To meet thisdual requirementin the construction ofa broad alliancebetween Europe andthe BRICS, we propose to consider as the first and necessary step a strategic alliance between France and Russia.  Since the era of Catherine the Great, and up to the Great Patriotic War[5], France and Russia — even without any shared land borders — had much in common and very similar interests. Even in the daysof Stalin’s dictatorship, the two nations did not confront each other.  Charles de Gaullewas the first head of state to encourage closer ties with Russia.

From the outset,we note thatsuch a planned alliance withRussiacould todaybe extendedto otherEuropean countries, primarily to Germany, Spainand Italy.  In each specific case, it is worth noting that having stronger ties with Russia would be beneficial even today, and that may be of further interest to these countries in the future, but such a discussion is beyond the scope of this article.

As for France, you will recall that when Czar Alexander’s troops briefly occupied Paris, after the fall of Napoleon the First, they conducted themselves almost perfectly.  Recall also that the Franco-Russian Alliance, concluded on the eve of the World War [“mirovoi voini,” the First World War], was very popular in both countries.[6]  The continued success of the eponymous dessert in France[7] is no accident.  All this testifies to the profound harmony between the two societies, which is expressed in literature and art, technology and science…

But on what basis should a Franco-Russian alliance be created today, which could become the model for the union of Europe and the BRICS?

A Geopolitical Project

The project should be primarily geopolitical.  This term is used to designate a union or a political rapprochement between two countries that share a common geographic area and broad strategic objectives.

Even in times of global trade, it is important to have common interests.  Concerning France and Russia,at first glance it is not that clear that they share a geographic space.  If we take a closer look at the concept, however, it becomes quite apparent.  There are plenty of rail, sea and air connections, and they can be expanded at a very low cost.  The similarity of the different parts of the space, which Charles de Gaulle called “Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals and beyond”, is undeniable.  Today, there are other states between France and Russia, but there is no reason to think that they, or at least their population, would oppose a rapprochement between the two sides of the Union, which could be useful to all of them.  In any case, it would only mean bringing the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, back to Europe.

 A Plan Based on Reciprocal Scarcities

The primary basis is a complementarity of resources and a commitment mutual development.

The geographic factor: Through France,Russia will gain access to the seas, which today are still very difficult for her to reach– the Atlantic Ocean, the western part of the Mediterranean Sea, as well as all the maritime areas belonging to France through her overseas possessions(a unique situation in the world). France, in turn, would gain access to the polar regions and Siberia which, if they are properly managed, will become more and more valuable(taking into account global warming).

The economic factor: France is very well developed industrially and could help Russia in the development of corresponding industries, and in return receive Russian expertise and resources, including in technology, energy, as well as mining — rich rare-earth metals.  In the important area of research and development, we note the possibility of creating programs related to clean energy, all NBIC technologies(nano-, bio-, information and cognitive technologies), as well as space and military technologies.

Finally,the political and diplomatic factors: Inter-amplification[8] is already obvious.In particular, the example of the struggle against radical Islamic movements which are equally threatening in Russia and in Europe, as they are in the Middle East. Now they are even spreading to the countries of southern Africa.  Even if France and Russia cope with this problem in different ways, cooperation between them is necessary.  And it would be very helpful if France would cease to consider itself obliged to obediently follow the intricacies of American policies: France and Russia together could then have a substantial place in the major negotiations and the conflicts taking place beyond their borders: in Iran, Iraq, Syria, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the Kurdish question, etc.  The question of differences in their approach to political democracy, civil liberties and morality should not be an obstacle to cooperation.  First,over time these differences will diminish, and second, each of the partners must demonstrate its willingness to let the other bear its share of responsibility for societal choices– without trying to change them.

A gradual process

We should not hide the fact that with regard to a Franco-Russian alliance, there are some differences of opinion, especially in France.  Political movements and politicians who are convinced that it is necessary would do well to propose a gradual approach, calculated to take hold over a longer period.  But this does not rule out making some urgent, even if only symbolic, decisions.  Note that if France, bowing to orders from the US, decides not to provide Russia with what, by rights, belongs to her – in this case, two “Mistral” class vessels, designed at Saint-Nazaire[9] — it will be a significant obstacle to hopes for cooperation between the two countries.  Conversely,if France and Russia were to deepen their already very fruitful cooperation in space, they could more rapidly develop the launchers, manned modules and ground stations needed to expand cooperation in space research, and exploration of the Moon, of the moons of Mars,and Mars itself.  The areas showing the most urgent needs and opportunities for cooperation are numerous, including medicine, robotics, machine translation of languages, social sciences, and politics.

Conclusion

As for us  — an Association of those who are confident that such a Franco-Russian alliance is needed — we will expand our activities in this area and will seek to establish a virtual dialogue with other organizations playing a similar role,in France,in Europe, and in Russia,to bring about profound changes in public opinion.


Editor’s comments

As a former doctoral student in Soviet History, permit me a few observations.

As I find common with technologists, the statement is a compound of astute naiveté.

Baquiast and Emperuer correctly note the long and often cordial relations between the Third Republic and Imperial Russia, and later between the Fifth Republic under De Gaulle and the Soviet Union.  France notably absented itself, until fairly recently, from the NATO military command structure.

More recently, however, under Sarkozy and Hollande, France seems to be opting for its own version of the Anglo-American “Special Relationship,” (or as Tony Blair was known, “America’s lap dog;” please insert your favorite “French Poodle” witticism here).  She certainly views her former possessions in Africa, and the continent in general, as within her sphere of influence under subcontract to the United States.  It is noteworthy that France was a critical proponent of the disastrous “humanitarian interventions” in Libya and Syria.

An aside – why is it that self-serving American “humanitarian interventions” are just and to be accepted uncritically?  How is it that similar and far more genuine Russian solicitude for its own people (either in strict ethnic or broader linguistic terms) is somehow a violation of international law?  America hypocritically applies its own loose and indeed criminal version of international law to itself and its friends, while holding everyone else to the strictest of standards.  Like my fellow readers of VS, I anxiously await the outcome of the Russian aid mission.

I cannot speak to the viability of the rail, road, and air links between the two.  Are they sufficient for the proposed traffic from the Volga to the Atlantic?  Would their expansion be easy and/or cost effective?  I see it as unlikely, however, that the populations of states such as Germany and Poland, under the anti-democratic structure of the so-called European “Union” or “Community,” can effectively change the policies dictated to Brussels by Washington.  Perhaps a transport version of the Southern Stream is possible, but I would have greater doubts as to the capacity and scalability.

I would agree, however, that any loosening of the bonds would likely be best achieved on the national level, hopefully as a precursor to a true democratization of the European Union as a whole.  Such a version would include, rather than exclude, the Russian Federation.  Perhaps mutual interests and complementary resources will prevail.  To do so, political action by the masses, rather than techno-utopianism, is needed.


[1]  Biographic note: Jean-Paul Baquiast was formerly a senior technologist in the French government.  He founded the website “Admiroutes” (www.admiroutes.asso.fr), which his webpage describes as “an unofficial and user-friendly resource for the Internet based modernisation of public services….”  He also edits the internet magazine “Automates Intelligents.”  His essay on “Europe paneuropéenne superpuissance” was published by Editions Automates Intelligents along with co-author Jean-Claude Emperuer’s “Essai suivi de Indépendance de l’Europe et technologies de souveraineté” in April 2003.  From http://www.jean-paul-baquiast.fr/

[2] See, in French “Europe is the epicenter of destructive conflict”, http://www.europesolidaire.eu/article.php?article_id=1433&r_id=)

[3]  Brazil, Russia, India, China & South Africa, for those few who may be unfamiliar with the term.

[4]  This is to me suggestive of the diplomatic term “most favored nation,” a type of trade-tariff relationship.  Here and throughout the rendering of the Russian text is in the gender and case used in the document.

[5]  This is the common rendering of “Velikoi Otechestvennoi voini” literally the Great Fatherland War, the Soviet and later Russian styling of the Second World War II.

[6] This treaty, signed in 1892, united the Third Republic with Czarist Russia against their mutual rival, the rising German Empire.  It was a critical step toward the First World War.

[7] I believe they are referring to the napoleon.  According to Wikipedia, as the “mille feuilles” the pastry predates the First Empire, but was refined by the French chef Marie-Antoine Carême (1784–1833).  It had no direct connection to Bonaparte.  Appearing in Russia early in the 1800’s, it gained especial popularity during the centenary of Borodino and  subsequently became a staple of Soviet cuisine.  The article goes onto describe variations throughout the world.  Carême also created the Charlotte russe, which Wikipedia describes as “a dessert invented by who named it in honor of his former employer George IV’s only child, Princess Charlotte, and his current, Russian employer Czar Alexander…. It is a cold dessert of Bavarian cream set in a mold lined with ladyfingers.”

[8]  “vzaimodopolnyaetmost’” – This seems to be a neologism, perhaps by the authors.

[9]  It seems at this time that Hollande government, for commercial reasons, will permit delivery of the two ships, “Vladivostok” and “Sevastapol.”  They are helicopter and amphibious assault carriers, with command and control capabilities.  The French state-owned company DCNS designed the vessels, three of which France presently deploys.  They were built at the Chantier de Atlantique at Saint-Nazaire.  Now owned by STX Shipbuilding of Korea with a French government minority stake, this yard built such historic vessels as the liners “Normandie” and “France.”  See Wikipedia and the websites of the companies involved.

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The Palestinian Holocaust in Gaza, by Fidel Castro

It was Fidel Castro’s birthday just two days ago, he is now 88. He is perhaps the grandfather of all statesman and revolutionaries, a true legend. A life devoted to a righteous cause and still strong of mind. Here is Fidel in his own words.

Originally appeared in Granma and then Counterpunch.

AE


By Fidel Castro

I think that a new, repugnant form of fascism is emerging with notable strength, at this time in human history when more that seven billion inhabitants are struggling for their survival.

None of these circumstances have anything to do with the creation of the Roman Empire, around 2,400 years ago, or with the U.S. empire which, in this region only 200 years ago, was described by Simón Bolívar who exclaimed, “…the United States appears to be destined by providence to plague America with misery in the name of liberty.” England was the first true colonial power to use its dominion over a large part of Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Australia, North America, and many Caribbean islands, in the first half of the 20th century.

On this occasion I will not talk about the wars and crimes committed by the United States empire over more than 100 years, but will only state what it wanted to do to Cuba, what it has done to many other countries in the world, and only served to prove that “A just idea in the depth of a cave is stronger than an army.”

History is much more complicated than everything I have said, but that is the was it is, in broad strokes, as the inhabitants of Palestine know, and it is likewise logical that the modern communications media reflect the news which arrives daily, as has occurred with the shameful, criminal war in the Gaza Strip, a piece of land where the population lives in what remains of what was independent Palestine only 50 years ago.

The French agency AFP reported August 2, “The war between the Islamist Palestinian movement Hamas and Israel has caused the deaths of close to 1,800 Palestinians,… the destruction of thousands of homes, and ruined an economy which was already weakened,” although it does not indicate, of course, who initiated the terrible war.

Added later, “… As of Saturday at midday the Israeli offensive had killed 1,712 Palestinians and injured 8,900. The United Nations was able to verify the identities of 1,117 dead, in their majority civilians … UNICEF counted at least 296 dead minors.”

“The United Nations estimates …some 58,900 persons homeless in the Gaza Strip.”

“Ten of the 32 hospitals were closed and another 11 damaged.”

“This Palestinian enclave of 362 km² does not have the infrastructure needed for 1.8 million inhabitants, above all in terms of the provision of electricity and water.”

“According to the IMF, the rate of unemployment surpasses 40% in the Gaza Strip, territory subjected to an Israeli blockade since 2006. In 2000, unemployment was 20%, and in 2011, 30%. More than 70% of the population depends on humanitarian aid during normal periods, according to Gisha.

The Israeli government declared a humanitarian truce in Gaza at 07:00 GMT on Monday, nevertheless within a few hours, it broke the truce attacking a house, injuring 30 persons, in their majority women and children, and an eight-year-old girl died.

In the dawn hours of this same day, 10 Palestinians died as a result of Israeli attacks in all of Gaza and the number of Palestinians murdered has already increased to 2,000.

The killing has reached the point that, “French Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius stated this Monday that Israel’s right to security does not justify the massacre of civilians taking place.”

The Nazi genocide of Jews outraged all the earth’s peoples. Why does this government believe that the world will be insensitive to the macabre genocide which today is being perpetuated against the Palestinian people? Perhaps it is expected that the complicity of the U.S. empire in this shameful massacre will be ignored?

The human species is living in an unprecedented stage of history. A crash between military planes or warships which are closely watched, or other similar events could unleash a conflict with the use of sophisticated, modern weapons, which could become the last known adventure of Homo sapiens.

There are events which reflect the almost total inability of the United States to face the world’s current problems. It can be stated that there is no government in this country, no Senate, no Congress, CIA or Pentagon which will determine the final outcome. It is truly sad that this should happen when the dangers are so great, but the opportunities to move forward are great as well.

When the great patriotic war took place, Russian citizens defended their country like Spartans, underestimating them was the worse error made by the United States and Europe. Their closest allies, the Chinese, who like the Russians achieved their victory on the basis of the same principles, constitute today the earth’s most dynamic economic force. Countries want yuan and not dollars to acquire goods and technology, and increased trade.

New, indispensable forces have emerged. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – establishing links with Latin America and the majority of countries in the Caribbean and Africa struggling for development – constitute the forces which in our era are willing to collaborate with the rest of the world’s countries, without excluding the United States, Europe or Japan.

Blaming the Russian Federation for the in-flight destruction of the Malaysian airplane is a stunning oversimplification. Not Vladímir Putin, nor Serguéi Lavrov, Russia’s minister of Foreign Relations, or any other leader of this government would ever come up with such nonsense.

Twenty-six million Russians died in the defense of their homeland against the Nazis. Chinese combatants, men and women, inheritors of a millennial culture, are people of uncommon intelligence and an invincible spirit of struggle. Xi Jinping is one of the strongest and most capable revolutionary leaders I have met in my life.

Fidel Castro’s column appears in Granma.

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