Russia’s long-predicted invasion of Ukraine finally happened, but the reasons for it are widely misrepresented. Basic history is necessary in order to understand it.
The Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline, from Russia, under the Baltic Sea, to Germany, was planned in order to enable greatly increased sales-volume of the lowest-cost natural gas, which came from Russia, into the EU, without having to rely upon the irregular pipelined supplies through the unstable and unpredictable nation of Ukraine. In fact, the planning-document noted on its page 12 that “Import of Russian natural gas to Europe takes place through three main routes, whereof 80% of the gas is in transit through the Ukraine.” They didn’t need to say that that was unstable; everyone knew it was; so, diplomatically speaking, this unfortunate fact about Ukraine wasn’t mentioned by them in the document, though the fact was a crucial reason for the Nord Stream project, which would transmit gas directly from Russia to Germany, no longer through unstable Ukraine.
On 8 November 2011, the BBC headlined “Nord Stream gas pipeline opened by Merkel and Medvedev”, and Russia’s RIA Novosty presented this happy photo of the signing-ceremony:
From left to right, Gerhard Schroder had been Germany’s Chancellor; Francois Fillon had been France’s Prime Minister; Johannes Teyssen was the CEO of multinational German electrical utility E.ON; Angela Merkel was Germany’s Chancellor; Mark Rutte was Prime Minister of Netherlands; Dmitry Medvedev was Prime Minister of Russia; Alexey Miller was Chairman of Russia’s Gazprom; Guenter Oettinger was the European Commission’s V.P. in charge of Energy; Kurt Bock was CEO of Germany’s BASF; and Erwin Sellering was Germany’s Minister President of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
None of those people are or had been pro-Nazi. However, ideological anti-Russian racist-fascists (or nazis) dominated in Ukraine’s far-western provinces, near to Poland, of Lviv, Tarnopil, Volyn, and Ivano-Frankivsk; and, so, there was, in Ukraine, intense nationalistic and nazi opposition to replacing Ukraine as the main transit-route for the crucial commodity of natural gas, from Russia into the EU, which new pipeline into the EU would greatly reduce the gas-transit-fees that were being paid by Russia into Ukraine’s Government — and reduce the geostrategic importance of their country (something that nazis tend to be very concerned with, since they’re supremacist-nationalists, not merely supremacist-racists). This proposed pipeline (which had been pressed upon Merkel by leaders of German industry, who needed cheaper energy) was viewed by those far-right Ukrainians as being an anti-Ukraine Russian scheme, even though Nord Stream was actually planned simply as a necessary business-deal between Germany and Russia. That’s what it actually was. And it also enjoyed considerable support elsewhere in the EU, such as in Netherlands, and France.
U.S. President Barack Obama intended even when he entered office in 2009, to replace Syria’s Government, but his decision to replace Ukraine’s Government didn’t come right away. On 12 April 2010, Ukraine’s democratically elected President, Viktor Yanukovych met the democratically elected U.S. President at the White House, to which Obama had invited him, but Yanukovych refused Obama’s suggestions that Ukraine join America’s alliance against Ukraine’s next-door neighbor Russia. (Obama wanted to take over Russia’s main naval base, which since 1783 has been in Crimea, which the Soviet dictator had transferred to Ukraine in 1954, so it was then in Ukraine — Obama was planning for that Russian naval base in Ukraine to become another U.S. naval base, and for Ukraine to be brought into NATO. But Yanukovych said no.) On 2 July 2010, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Yanukovych held a joint press conference in Kiev, where she said that she had discussed with Yanukovych joint military exercises with U.S. forces against his neighbor, Russia. Yanukovych again declined the demands. Obama then assigned Victoria Nuland, Hillary’s friend (and the wife of the famous neoconservative — or American-imperialist — writer, Robert Kagan) to organize a coup against Ukraine, to place it under U.S. control. Planning for the coup was already under way by no later than 23 June 2011, which was even before the Nord Stream project had yet become signed. But after Nord Stream became agreed later in 2011, that proposed pipeline was immediately added to the Ukrainian-takeover target, as something that needed to be cancelled. (Ukraine’s gas-transit fees were crucial financial support to Ukraine’s government, and Obama wanted those fees to be supporting a post-coup Americanized Ukraine.) As CNBC accurately summarized on 11 July 2018: “President Barack Obama opposed Nord Stream 2 and President George W. Bush came out against the original Nord Stream prior to its completion in 2011. Like the central and eastern European countries, they worried it increased Russian influence over the Continent.” Post-WW-II American Presidents wanted America to control Europe, as key allies to conquer Russia. The Nord Stream project was, to a large extent, a European bid to work cooperatively with Russia and finally free itself of U.S. domination over European countries.
Nuland got caught managing the coup when on 4 February 2014 a phone call from her to the U.S. Ambassador in Kiev got posted to youtube in which she instructed him to get “Yats” or “Yatsenyuk” appointed to run the post-coup government, and “Yats” was a rabidly anti-Russian and pro-nazi politician, who, unlike some others that the U.S. regime had been considering for the purpose, didn’t yet have any clear or blatantly expressed racist-fascist sentiments (which would have meant bad PR), but who, once he did become appointed on 22 February 2014 to run the government, promptly replaced the generals with ones who favored exterminating enough people in the heavily pro-Yanukovych areas of Ukraine so that, in subsequent Ukrainian national elections, rabid anti-Russians like “Yats” would be able to become ‘democratically elected’ to lead the country. The objective wasn’t only to kill enough of those pro-Russian voters but even more importantly to scare enough of the residents there to escape to Russia, so that they’d be gone altogether from Ukraine’s voting-rolls (either by fleeing or by having been killed). Videos became posted online of some of the Obama-instigated local Ukrainian extermination-and terrorism operations, such as in Odessa, and in Donbass, and, of course, in Crimea, but those were basically covered-up and/or lied-about in the ’news’-media of the U.S.-and-allied (which included EU) regimes, because Obama needed those allies to agree with the U.S. regime’s anti-Russia sanctions, so as to block the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from being allowed to operate (which would strengthen not only Russia but Europe). This wasn’t merely in order to weaken the economies in Germany and throughout the EU and make them more dependent upon the U.S.; it was also in order to replace Europe’s low-priced Russian pipelined natural gas with America’s costly tanked-and-shipped expensive liquefied natural gas, so as to enrich America’s billionaires who financed America’s successful politicians. It was to force Europe to pay America’s prices.
As a result of the success of Obama and Trump and Biden — and of Congress-members of both of America’s two political Parties (this bipartisan effort) — the inexpensive Russian pipelined natural gas has, indeed, become replaced by the incredibly expensive canned American liquefied and cross-Atlantic-shipped natural gas, so as to weaken European industries, in the name of ‘protecting Ukraine’s democracy’, and this con-game strengthens the U.S., at Europe’s expense, and keeps Europe in its place as a U.S. vassal-region, which has consistently been ever since the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union. U.S. gas producers are laughing all the way to the bank, while blaming ‘the aggressive dictator” or “tyrant’, Putin, who is condemned by both America’s Republicans and Democrats. (Both of America’s Parties are nearly 100% neoconservative.)
On 17 February 2022, a retired head of Britain’s MI6, Sir John Sawers, was interviewed by NATO’s PR firm the Atlantic Council, and he seconded Nuland’s phone-call assertion that the U.N should “glue this thing”, when he used the phrase in a different context, saying that “If you try to install a new government which has no legitimacy, you’ve got to glue it in place.” She had said:
“Nuland: Ok. He’s now gotten both Serry and Ban ki-Moon to agree that Serry could come in Monday or Tuesday. That would be great, I think, to help glue this thing, and to have the UN help glue it, and, you know, fuck the EU.”
The last three words there, “fuck the EU,” were the only part of the entire phone call that the ‘news’-media in The West publicized; and, of course, The West’s widely deceived audiences had no idea, no way of knowing, what she was actually talking about, or why. The incuriosity of the masses in The West prevented the U.S. public from demanding or requiring to have more honestly informative and authentic news-media that would make more sense than simply displaying the U.S. President’s assigned diplomat for Europe privately referring so contemptuously to Europeans. And, so, under Obama’s V.P., Biden, now as the U.S. President, she’s assigned the #2 role at the U.S. State Department, and Americans aren’t shocked and repelled at that fact. America’s leaders also hold America’s own public in contempt. Only America’s billionaires are not. Only they are not viewed as chumps — to be deceived and exploited — because America’s billionaires are the politicians’ bosses.
Here is a ten-minute video that places this “Fuck the EU” into its correct perspective. Here is an even fuller perspective on the matter. The geostrategic expert Alexander Mercouris has well explained the historic significance of what has just happened.
Is European humanity skin deep?
When talking about security the most common line of thought tends to be war and the actors involved in the attack, however, all the people who had regular lives within those territories that are jeopardized are as important. With the increasing tensions and armed conflicts happening within the Twenty First Century, the movement of people searching for shelter has increased. More asylum seekers leave their home countries every single day and contemporary politics is still struggling to find a way to catch up. Europe, history wise, is the zone of the world that deals with more refugees wanting to enter the continent due to different factors: geography, proximity, democratic systems, level of development and more. Nevertheless, with the Russia-Ukraine conflict, true sentiments towards refugees are now being put on display.
Even though all refugees are fleeing their countries because their lives are in mortal danger, authorities and government officials do not seem to care. Processes to apply for the refugee status are getting harder and harder. In Europe, to apply for a refugee passport, people are asked for identifications, online questionaries and many other unrealistic aspects that if not answered correctly, the whole process is cancelled. It is ridiculous to believe that when people are scaping in order to stay alive, they will take under consideration all these requirements to receive help, sometimes even from neighboring countries. Which inevitably leads to the following question: why are refugees accepted based on the legality of their applications and not of their status?
By 2016, nearly 5.2 million refugees reached European shores, which caused the so called refugee crisis. They came mainly from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq: countries torn apart by armed conflicts. Similarly, with Russia’s invasion over the Ukraine in 2022, only few days deep within the fighting, 874,000 people had to flee their homes. Nonetheless, the issue seems to be that, for Europe, not all refugees are the same. When the refugee crisis in 2015 was declared, the European Union called for stopping and detaining all arriving refugees for around 18 months. There was a strong reluctancy from Europeans towards offering them shelter. On the contrary, countries such as Poland and Slovakia have said that Ukrainian refugees fleeing will be accepted without passports, or any valid travel documents due to the urgency of the situation. Therefore, stating with their actions, that Ukrainian refugees are more valuable or seem to be more worthy of help than refugees from Asia, Africa, or the Middle East.
Correspondingly, it is true that not all countries inside Europe deal and act the same way towards refugees, be that as it may, with the current refugee crisis it has been proved that they all share strong sentiments of xenophobia and racism. For instance, Hungary is a country that refused to admit refugees coming from outside Europe since 2015. In 2018, Prime Minister Viktor Orban described non-European refugees as “Muslim invaders” and “poison” to society, in comparison with Ukrainian refugees who are being welcomed without hesitation. In the same way, Jarosław Kaczyński, who served as Prime Minister of Poland and is the leader of the Law and Justice party, in 2017 said that accepting asylum seekers from Syria would be dangerous and would “completely change our culture and radically lower the level of safety in our country”. Furthermore, Germany in 2015 with Chancellor Angela Merkel in charged said that they would accept one million of Syrians. Although, as time passed, Europe’s solution was to make a deal with Turkey, who is not part of the European Union, to close the migrant route. Moreover, the promise of letting refugees integrate into German society was not fulfilled since. Seven year later, an impressive amount of refugees are still in camps and centers, with their lives frozen in time. Sadly, most European governments gambled towards the idea of sending them back once the armed conflict was over, without caring for the aftermath of war’s destruction.
The common narrative until now pushed by leaders, politicians, and mass media has been that Ukrainians are prosperous, civilized, middle class working people, but refugees coming from the Middle East are terrorists, and refuges from Africa are simply too different. Despite, refugees are all people who share similar emotions and struggle to grasp the fact that their lives may never be the same; having lost their homes, friends, family and so much more. Plus, being selectively welcomed based on their religion, skin color or nationality by the continent which’s complete rhetoric is universal rights, just adds another complex layer to the issue. Conjointly, the displacement of people due to war displays how regular individuals are always the ones who suffer the most in consequence to the interests of the few that represent larger powers. Hence, greed, envy, and cruelty are stronger than recognized, even in a developed continent such as Europe.
What Everyone Should Know About Preventing Ethnic Violence: The Case of Bosnia
When the Balkans spiraled into violence and genocide in the 90’s, many wondered what caused this resurgence in militant ethnic nationalism and how a similar situation may be countered.
The 1990’s were a vibrant decade, that is unless you were living in the Balkans. 1995 was especially bad, as the 11th of July of that year marked the Srebrenica Massacre, which saw Serbian soldiers murder over 8,000 Bosnian Muslims over the span of two weeks. This shocked the world, as it was the first case of a European country resorting to extreme violence and genocide on ethnic lines since World War II. After World War II, the idea that a European country would resort to genocide was unthinkable. As Balkan nations continue to see the consequences of the massacre after over 25 years, it is increasingly evident that more needs to be done to curb ethnic violence.
We must first investigate key causes of ethnic violence. According to V.P. Gagnon, the main driver of ethnic violence is elites that wish to stay in power. Ethnic nationalism is easy to exploit, as creating a scapegoat is extremely effective for keeping elites in power. This is exactly what happened in Yugoslavia, which had previously seen high levels of tolerance and intermarriage in more mixed areas that saw the worst violence during the war. Stuart J. Kaufman argues that elites may take advantage of natural psychological fears of in-group extinction, creating group myths, or stereotypes, of outgroups to fuel hatred against them. While they may take different approaches to this issue, Gagnon and Kaufman agree that the main drivers of ethnic violence are the elites.
David Lake and Donald Rothchild suggest that the main driver of ethnic conflict is collective fears for the future of in-groups. Fear is one of the most important emotions we have because it helps secure our existence in a hostile world. However, fear can easily be exploited by the elites to achieve their personal goals. In a multiethnic society such as Yugoslavia, the rise of an elite that adheres to the prospects of a single ethnic group could prove dangerous and sometimes even disastrous. The destruction of Yugoslavian hegemony under Josip Broz Tito and the resulting explosion of ethnic conflict at the hands of Serbian elites in Bosnia underline this because of the immense fear this created.
Regions with high Serb populations in Bosnia sought independence from the rest of the country when they found themselves separated from Serbia by the dissolution of Yugoslavia. Republika Srpska was formed by these alienated Serbs. The leadership and elites in Serbia riled up the Serb population of Republika Srpska by stereotyping and demonizing Bosnian Muslims as “descendants of the Turkish oppressors”. This scared the Serbs in Bosnia so much so that they obeyed the elites of Serbia in supporting and fighting for the independence of Republika Srpska by any means necessary. As was seen in Srebrenica, they were not opposed to genocide.
We know how the elites fuel ethnic tensions to secure power as well of the devastating effects of these tensions reaching their boiling point. But what could be done to address ethnic conflict? David Welsh suggests that a remedy for ethnic conflict could be the complete enfranchisement of ethnic minorities and deterrence towards ethnic cleansing. This means that we must ensure that ethnic minorities are able to have a say in a democratic system that caters to all ethnicities equally. Fostering aversion to genocide is also vital toward addressing ethnic conflict because it is the inevitable result of unchecked ethnic conflict.
There is also the issue of members of ethnic groups voting for candidates and parties on ethnic lines. For example, in the United States, White American voters have shown to prefer White candidates over African American candidates, and vice versa. Keep in mind that the United States has a deep history of ethnic conflict, including the centuries-long subjugation of African Americans by White Americans.
Ethnic violence is horrifying and destructive, but it can be prevented. The first measure would be the establishment of a representative democracy, where members of all ethnicities are accurately represented. Another measure would be to make ethnic conflict and ethnic stereotyping taboo so that the average person would not resort to genocidal behavior once things go wrong. Lastly, making people feel secure is the most important step towards preventing ethnic conflict. If the people feel secure enough, they will not even need to think about ethnic violence. In short, while it is important to consider the differences of the various ethnic groups in a multiethnic society, it is vital that each group is kept represented and secure, free of any fears of subjugation.
While the case of Bosnia was extremely unfortunate, it provides an integral view into what could happen if perceived subjugation and fear of eradication reaches a breaking point. As was seen in Bosnia, ethnic violence can be extremely violent, resulting in untold suffering and death. That is why we must take necessary steps towards de-escalation and remediation of ethnic conflicts. These measures can, quite literally, save millions of lives.
French Presidential Election 2022 and its significance for Europe
Eugene Delacroix’s infamous painting “la liberté Guidant le Peuple” reminds the whole world of the July Revolution of 1830 that toppled King Charles X of France. The lady in the centre of the painting with the French tricolour still symbolizes the concept of liberty and reminds the whole world of revolutions and sacrifices made for freedom. France indeed has a long journey from revolting against “if they have no bread, let them eat cake” in 1789 to establishing a modern democratic society with the principles of “liberty, equality and fraternity”.
France and the United States are rightly considered the birthplace of modern democracy. The French revolution taught the whole world lessons about revolution, freedom modern nationalism, liberalism and sovereignty. In 2022, France celebrates the 233rd year of Bastille Day which led to a new dawn in the French political system. From establishing 1ere Republique (1st Republic) in 1792, France has evolved and is currently under the 5eme Republique (5th Republic) under the constitution crafted by Charles de Gaulle in 1958.
Today, France is holding its presidential elections. As the French believe, ‘You first vote with your heart, then your head’, the first round of voting was concluded on Sunday 10th April and the Presidential debate on 20th April 2022. While the whole world waits for the 24th of April’s second round of elections and their results, this article attempts to understand the French electoral system and analyze Why French Presidential elections are important for Europe?
French electoral system
France is a semi-presidential democracy; the president is at the centre of power and Prime Minister heads the government. The president of the French republic is elected by direct universal suffrage where all French citizens aged 18 and above can vote, whether residing in France or not. In France, there is a two-round system in which voters vote twice on two Sundays, two weeks apart. This two-round system is widely practised in central and eastern Europe as well as Central Asia, South America and Africa.
In order to apply, a candidate needs 500 signatures of elected officials and they should be at least from 30 government departments. A candidate can be an independent or he or she can represent a political party. There is no limit to how many candidates can run for presidential elections. For instance, in 2002 there were 16 candidates, in 2017- 11 and in 2022 there are 12. While all the candidates have the right to equal media presence, the amount of spending on campaigns is also monitored; for the 1st round, the spending must not exceed 16.9 million euros and for the second round, it has been limited to 22.5 million euros.
This year, the 1st round of voting was concluded on 10th April while the second one is scheduled to be held on 24th April 2022. In the first round, all 12 candidates were eligible but for the second round, only two candidates who got the maximum votes are qualified for the second round.
A brief overview of French presidential candidates
Emmanuel Macron, five years ago at the age of 39, became the youngest French president of the French republic. In 2017, he broke the dominance of the two major French parties- Republicans and Socialists- by running a campaign “neither left nor right”. During the tenure of Emmanuel Macron, a hardcore centrist, France has witnessed a 7% GDP growth, unemployment dropped by 7.2% and the crime rate has fallen to 27%.
A far-rightist, Marine Le Pen is the other presidential candidate who succeeded her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, as leader of the National Front (later National Rally) party in 2011. She was also contesting against Emmanuel Macron during the 2017 elections and before that in 2012, against Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande. While she embraced the party’s anti-immigration stance, she rebranded the party’s Euroskepticism as French nationalism.
This year, in the April 2022 elections, the current President of France, Emanuel Macron and far-right leader, Marine Le Pen are the two candidates with Macron running ahead with a lead of 4.7 per cent votes (Emmanuel Macron-27.8% & Marine Le Pen- 23.1%).
Why French Presidential elections are important for Europe?
While European defence is primarily assured by the US-led NATO military alliance, of which most EU states are members, French president Macron said, “Europe needs to finally build its own collective security framework on our continent…”, advocating for a ‘European Security’ framework amid tensions with Russia over Ukraine.
On the other hand, Le Pen’s party has been looked upon suspiciously that it might have received financing from a Russian bank connected to the Russian President Putin. In an interview with French public radion, Le pen said, “It will be necessary diplomatically, when the war [in Ukraine] is over, when a peace treaty has been signed, to try to avoid this tie-up which risks being the largest danger of the 21st century for us,” she even further added, “Imagine … if we let the first producer of raw materials in the world — which is Russia — [create an alliance] with the first factory of the world — which is China — to let them perhaps constitute the first military power of the world. I believe that it’s a potentially great danger.” These statements only further reinforce the claims that Le Pen is more pro-Russia.
While Macron is anti-Brexit, Le Pen, on the other hand, has been known for her ‘Frexit’ plan, meaning, that she wanted France to leave the EU and abandon the euro. However, during the 2022 elections, it appears that Le Pen has softened her stance on Frexit. Another important issue pertaining to immigration has been significant not only for France but the whole of Europe. This issue of immigration is directly linked with the “economic and cultural concerns” which raises an important worry about immigrants’ socio-political and economic integration into the French society and abiding by the principle of laïcité (secularism with French characters).
As for Macron, he wants to create a “rapid reaction force” to help protect EU states’ borders in case of a migrant surge and is also pushing for a rethink of the bloc’s asylum application process. Macron also said that he urges the EU to be more efficient in deporting those refused entries. On the other hand, Marine Le Pen during her campaign stated, “I will control immigration and establish security for all.” It is pertinent to note that Macron has introduced strict laws pertaining to immigration and controlling Islamic radicalization. For instance, he introduced the bill to ban foreign funding to mosques.
What is more interesting to mention is the concerns about ‘energy’ in the presidential election. Evidently, the ongoing conflict in Ukraine has gained more attention on the economic and geopolitical consequences of existing national and European energy supply chain choices. In France especially, there is a major rift between the pro and anti-nuclear power fractions. Interestingly, France has the second most nuclear power stations in the world after the United States. Besides, in the last week of the elections, Macron has been attempting to win the hearts of the French voters with his proposal for a “complete renewal” of his climate policy. He has also promised to build up to 14 nuclear reactors by 2050 and regenerate existing plants. Meanwhile, Le Pen has promised to build 20 nuclear plants and aim to have nuclear power provide 81 per cent of France’s energy by 2050. While the current president Macron and far-right candidate Le Pen have both committed to the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global warming, it is evident that their approaches differ particularly on energy. Since France is Europe’s second-biggest economy, France’s climate policy could echo right across the EU.
Besides, in light of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis, Macron has played a significant role as he is the bridgehead for Russia and the US. He has also negotiated talks between Washington DC and Moscow and has also condemned the crisis by making the statement, “Russia is not under attack, it is the aggressor. As some unsustainable propaganda would have us believe, this war is not as big as the battle against, that is a lie.” Indeed, he has played the role of Europe’s de-facto leader vis-à-vis the Ukraine crisis. Nonetheless, with a marginal win in the first round against Marine Le Pen, winning the 2nd term is not as easy as it was five years ago.
More importantly, it is pertinent to note that France has the 2nd strongest military and 2nd biggest economy in Europe, further the 5th biggest economy in the world. France is not only the most visited country in the world but also ranks 1st in the global soft power index. It is also the founding member of the United Nations Security Council, North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union which makes it an important player in European politics. Consequently, the policies of the French leadership not only direct the political, social and economic lives of the French but also reverberate in Europe.
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