This press conference which I’m following on France 24 (France’s English channel available on my local public television station), is strikingly informal, as opposed to strictly regulated White House versions. In response to one of the questions the two presidents explained their differing views on achieving peace in Syria and Hollande defended the French action in Mali. The closing question from a Russian journalist concerned the relationship between the two Presidents. Recalling that during their first meeting, last year, there was no evidence of warmth between them, the journalists wanted to know whether this situation had improved. President Putin responded that he should just approach, and would ‘feel the warmth’. In response, Hollande noted that the Russian president’s habit of speaking frankly was very a great asset.
How far history has travelled in twenty years! Having lived in France in the eighties, I can testify that the American-invented ‘threat of Finlandization’ (under the threat of tanks rolling across Europe, a foreign policy of neutrality under the influence of the Soviet Union), was invoked tirelessly in that country to justify ever-increasing demands for military spending (although France had left NATO), and in particular the installation of Pershing missiles in the neighboring West German republic.
For some time now I have been noticing that Russia is following a very obvious policy of rapprochement with Europe. In my 1989 book ‘Une autre Europe, un autre Monde’ in response to Mikhail Gorbachev’s dream of a ‘Common European Home’, that the Soviet Union was to big to be considered as part of Europe, but that it should cultivate close ties with the European Union, as well as with China and India and the Middle East, the other four major entities of the Eurasian continent.)
This is now coming to pass, notwithstanding the untold billions spent by the United States in an arms race whose principle purpose was to prevent the Soviet Union’s tanks from rolling across Europe and into Paris, ‘crushing freedom’.
Since that time and true to that spirit, the United States followed the Vietnam debacle by engaging in failed military occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan. And yet all of these efforts have merely delayed the inevitable France’s English language channel, France 24, took great pains to point out that France and Russia have been historical allies going all the way back to Catherine the Great and notwithstanding Napoleon’s invasion.
Today, as if the Cold War had been merely a bad dream, the French President was accompanied on his visit to Moscow by a plethora of French industrialists, as well as by the historically pro-Russian French Socialist Jean-Pierre Chevenement who resigned from President MItterand’s cabinet over the first Iraq War. As evidenced by the two president’s statements, France and Russia are drawing closer, as the geography of the Eurasian continent dictates.
Meanwhile, on Eurasia’s Pacific rim, the United States gears up against the latest ‘threat’: however China too is once again a Russian ally....