French Prepare for Election - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
French Prepare for Election
by
Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen debate on April 20, 2022. (FRANCE 24 English/YouTube)

There are a variety of assessments about France’s role in world affairs, or in Western civilization and its hypothetical decline, but from the viewpoint of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, standing like a Maccabee against the hordes coming out of frozen Asian steppes to attack and ravage his country, bringing mass murder and raping and enslavement in their wake, there is no mistaking it. He knows that to beat the Russians, he needs Europe, and that means he needs France.

France has an army. It has a Foreign Legion. It has nukes. It has a navy and an air force. It has money. It has clout with the other European powers: Germany, Britain, Italy, and Spain. Notwithstanding a recent spat with Poland’s top man, France’s president has clout there, too. France has always come to the aid of Poland. Zelensky is well aware of this.

That is why he asked, on the eve of the only face-to-face debate between the two candidates for the presidency of the republic, with a sly mix of polite non-interference in the domestic politics of another country and reproachful false modesty, of the links between the one candidate and the Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. The question was rhetorical. Everyone in France who is interested in tonight’s debate knows the candidate in question owes big euros to the Russian strongman.

And he noted, too, that not enough was being done to help his country by its putative friends, but still, he of course appreciated the other candidate’s support and mediation efforts.

For even in the midst of war, as Winston Churchill well knew, you keep channels open because you never know and the boys on the front line sure would like to hear the order to cease fire, if only for a moment.

The issue here is war. It is a war for the survival of a country of some 50 million people, a war of conquest by the Eurasian hordes attacking it, with the implicit threat to Poland, Germany, Hungary, and the rest ultimately to the Atlantic coast — France. Zelensky implied one candidate understands this and fears it; the other, maybe not.

Then England once again will stand alone. And America will be drawn in — already we are supplying the vast bulk of the advanced military equipment that the Ukrainian forces are using to resist the block-by-block and mile-by-mile demolition of their cities and countryside — and then it will be the big one, the war of the worlds.

This is why there has been a consensus since 1945 that the U.S. must have an international security policy. As wide as the disagreements over tactics have been at times, the Robert Taft isolationist wing of our political class got this wrong, notwithstanding efforts by the likes of Tucker Carlson and Pat Buchanan and the rest of that gang — whose clear-eyed perceptions and courageous stands on so many other issues are invaluable.

The defense of freedom in Israel and Taiwan, the freedom of the seas from the Strait of Hormuz to the Mediterranean, the security of our merchant fleet on the oceans across the Pacific and around the Cape, all this depends on America and its allies holding the line on the borderlands of civilization.

It is a long, bitter, thankless job. Sometimes, we find ourselves making sacrifices we have every right to say are uncalled for in regions well on the other side of those borderlands. Afghanistan obviously comes to mind, for arguable but still real strategic reasons.

On the Russian question, there is little doubt who, as between the contenders for France’s top political job, stands with America and the free world.

Marine Le Pen, leader of the Rassemblement National (National Rally), the successor party to the one her father founded in the 1970s to oppose non-European immigration into France, is beholden to Vladimir Putin for bankrolling her. As a general principle, she likes strong men (except her old man, whom she threw under the bus in an effort to prove the new-old party had rid itself of its anti-Semitic soft-on-Nazi traditions, which as it happens, it largely had by then) in the sense of caudillos and duces and führers, not in the sense of normal American jocks. Zelensky’s bitterness at her calling for rapprochement between NATO and Russia is not necessarily fair on its face — after all, why not seek a broad Euro-Asian entente? — but it is surely understandable in context.

Emmanuel Macron more than once has projected the impression that he is a twerp with his foot constantly in his mouth, and he has a tendency toward arrogance and contempt for ordinary people that he only underscores by phony demonstrations of being a “regular guy,” which, as a child of privilege, he obviously is not. But on the key questions, he represents what in Europe, not only France, they call the center: the movements, often Catholic in their origins, which decided in 1945, despite two nearly successful attempts at mass suicide, that Europe and European civilization were still worthy of respect.

Variously called social liberals, Atlanticists, federalists, and other epithets, they have much to answer for in terms of misbegotten and misguided policies, domestic and foreign. That is at least in part, and probably in large part, because they have been in power for most of the 70 years since the end of World War II, when they found themselves with the task of picking their nations and societies up from the ruins and leading the reconstruction, physical and moral, of the old world.

Fundamentally, that is what Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron are arguing over tonight. You ought to tune in, if you can, and The American Spectator, thanks to its transnational network of correspondents and sources, will bring updates to its readers as the debate and its after-effects evolve and, presumably, have a serious, if not necessarily decisive, effect on Sunday’s voting. Stay tuned.

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