ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The New French President

Emile Chabal’s article “Europe after Sarkozy” (EPW, 2 June 2012) on François Hollande and the French is a well-argued and well-balanced piece. However, I would like to focus on an ­aspect concerning President Hollande which Chabal has not discussed. This concerns Syria. To its credit the communist party’s organ L’humanité underlined, at the beginning of this month, that “the France of Hollande is the only western country which publicly envisages a military intervention in Syria”. At the same time the newspaper added that even the German government opposed military intervention. What a contrast between a “socialist” government and an avowed rightist government! Both in his press conference on 29 May and his speech at the French television channel 2 on 5 June, the new “socialist” president declared in favour of military intervention in Syria under the authorisation of the United Nations Security Council. What is particularly notable in this connection is that he approvingly referred to the “philosopher” Bernard-Henri Levy who in March 2011 had persuaded the former rightist president Nicolas Sarkozy to undertake military intervention in Libya. This philo­sopher, “well-known by his fame” (to use an expression of Heine cited by Engels), is now openly pushing for the same scenario in Syria.

On the question of war and peace (including attitude to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation), it seems there is hardly any difference between the two administrations. Another point – though not immediately connected with the issue being discussed here, but not altogether irrelevant – should be mentioned here. This relates to the recent terrible massacre of civilians including women and children at Houla in Syria. Particularly, the government and mass media of the west, uncritically voicing the Syrian armed opposition, immediately began to assert that the whole massacre was perpetuated by the Syrian military and the government militia. This was also mentioned by Hollande in his discourse justifying military intervention. In this connection a particular photo of dead children shrouded in white was repeatedly shown on television all over the globe, most widely by the British Broadcasting Corporation. From the Russian press, however, it is learnt that the particular photo of the dead children in question, in fact, dates from 2003 originating from a place called Al Musayyib in Iraq. The photo­grapher who took the original picture, Marco Di Lauro, posted in his Facebook page: “Somebody is using my images as propaganda against the Syrian government to prove the massacre”.

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