"...the certain appearance of Russia at the forefront of tomorrow's victors brings to Europe and the world a guarantee of balance that no power has more reason to welcome than France. For general unhappiness, too often, for centuries, the Franco-Russian alliance was prevented or thwarted by intrigue or misunderstanding." - Charles De Gaulle, January 20, 1942, as quoted by Nicolas Bonnal in Reseau International, July 19, 2015 and in the Ft. Russ blog post "Why De Gaulle Adored Russia""When Paris sneezes, Europe catches a cold" - Prince Klemens Wenzel von Metternich, Henry Kissinger's idol and the principal author of the so-called Concert of Europe diplomacy which kept the general peace on the Continent for nearly a century from 1815 to 1914
'Ordo ab chao' -- alleged slogan of 33rd degree free masons first coined in France
Mancrush: former Alaska Governor and Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin "You have to hand it to the man, Putin is doing his job...nobody has to guess which side he's on, he's putting his people first and doing the right thing"
Former US Navy SEAL commander Jocko Willink on Fox Business last week: France and Russia have taken casualties in their homeland and are aggressively responding against ISIS, we should support them -- we're Americans, we should be leading this fight
Point 1: The President of the French Republic Calls for an Alliance with Russia (Preferably Modeled After the Grand Coalition between the Western Allies and the USSR that Crushed Hitler)
Diplomatic developments in the two weeks since Friday the 13th's terrorist attacks in Paris initially seemed so astounding, that a Canadian-American Francophone friend to the Russia Analyst compared Putin's moves to the diplomacy of Prince von Metternich after the Napoleonic Wars. In one fell swoop, a nuclear power, a NATO member and permanent member of the post-1945 United Nations Security Council (UNSC) was allegedly becoming a Russian ally, confirmed by mutual statements of President Francois Hollande and Vladimir Putin. While Putin's orders to the Russian Navy to fully cooperate with the French task force around the aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle in the eastern Mediterranean went around the world, the French president's call in his native language for a grand coalition against the Islamic State with Russia and the United States received sporadic but respectful coverage in the English language press.
Our thanks goes out to this Canadian-American friend in Washington who speaks French for alerting us to Hollande's speech to a joint session of parliament assembled in Versailles a fortnight ago and the import of the French leader's words. While the French-language inspired British rock band Depeche Mode once sang, 'words are meaningless / and forgettable' it was the actions of the French leadership after Hollande's speech which raised eyebrows in Washington, more so than the bombs falling from Dassault jets on the Islamic State 'capital' of Raqqa. Specifically, the French decision to invoke the European Union's common defense clause, rather than the Washington Treaty of NATO's Article 5 for collective self-defense under the United Nations charter:
Point 2: France Snubs NATO's Article V in Favor of Invoking a European Union (EU) Common Defense Clause (Even Though Non-EU/NATO Allies in the Middle East Are Mentioned to Allow Washington Save Face)
Why Did France Pass on NATO?
In his address to a special joint session of the French parliament yesterday, President François Hollande took the unprecedented step of invoking Article 42.7 of the EU treaty. The article states that all EU member countries have “an obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power, in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter” to any fellow member state that is the “victim of armed aggression.” The little-known clause was apparently written into the treaty at the behest of Greece, which wanted additional safety guarantees in case it went to war with fellow NATO-member Turkey. Experts claim it has not been invoked since the treaty went into force.
So why is France invoking Article 42.7 rather than reaching for NATO’s own Article 5? The WSJhas a partial explanation:French officials have said they don’t want to invoke the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s mutual-defense clause, arguing the current U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State is more nimble. There are also concerns that invoking the NATO treaty, which was only done once, after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks in the U.S., could serve as a propaganda boost for Islamic State.
But there might be more to it than that. After all, Paris has wanted to build up a European defense identity as an alternative to NATO since Charles de Gaulle toyed with pulling France out of the alliance in the 1960s.
Point 3: The Carrier Charles De Gaulle Being the First Participant in the Franco-Russian Anti-ISIS Alliance is Highly Symbolic On Many Levels (De Gaulle's 1960s dream was a Europe stretching 'from the Atlantic to the Urals', in other words, one that doesn't need American protection)
It seems whoever wrote the article we cited above for The American Interest magazine forgot that France actually DID formally withdraw from NATO's command structure under the leadership of WWII hero president Charles De Gaulle, on June 21, 1966 (oddly enough, not only the longest day of the year and 25 years to the day Nazi Germany invaded in the Soviet Union in 1941). De Gaulle of course was the towering figure (both physically and morale-wise) in 20th century French history who survived multiple assassination plots, wound down the country's costly colonial occupation of Algeria, and told a crowd of cheering French-speakers in 1967 Montreal "Vive le Québec libre!".
For Americans and the rest of the non-Francophone world, De Gaulle's most significant act remains demanding France's gold back from the Fort Knox vaults near the height of the Vietnam War, thereby hastening the demise of the post-WWII Bretton Woods system and the official ushering in of the fiat petrodollar on August 15, 1971 to replace it under President Richard Nixon. De Gaulle has often been caricatured in popular histories like those of Stephen Ambrose as a pompous pain in the ass for the British and Americans, clinging to the myth of a Free France when most of his countrymen had gone over to or passively acquiesced to Vichy. But as the expression goes history is written by the victors, and De Gaulle had no illusions when he became a living symbol of Free France following the Nazis occupation of his country in 1940 that the people he spent his whole life calling les Anglo Saxons would not also occupy France and Western Europe with their dollars, long after most American and British troops left France.
In fact, for the 20th anniversary of D-Day of June 6, 1964 De Gaulle openly snubbed President Lyndon Baines Johnson and British Prime Minister Harold Wilson's entreaties to jointly celebrate the occasion together. As De Gaulle recounted bitterly to an aide in the Sixties, 'France had been treated as a doormat' the nominal leader of the Free French forces was informed of the Normandy landings with barely 24 hours notice, and summoned to Churchill's headquarters 'as a lord summons a butler'.
That De Gaulle held a high opinion of himself and fully bought into his own 'legend' of physically embodying France is without a doubt. But so is the age-old dream of France creating a European security architecture without Washington, a project that Moscow has also keenly promoted since 1989 through figures as diverse as Mikhail Gorbachev, Yevgeny Primakov, and Alexander Dugin. Recall Lord Hastings Ismay, the first NATO Secretary General's infamous quip that the purpose of NATO was to "keep the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans down". Ismay could've just as easily added 'keep the French down' to the list, and De Gaulle certainly saw NATO's role that way, as does the 'heiress' to his tradition of defying les Anglo-Saxons Marine Le Pen.
The roots of this week's diplomacy go way back -- the USSR greets French President Charles De Gaulle with pomp and enthusiastic crowds at Moscow, with De Gaulle shaking Russians hands and warmly recalling the Franco-Soviet wartime alliance against the Third Reich -- in 1966
Point 3: The Attack on the Russian Su-24 by Turkey Was a Clear Provocation Intended to Scuttle a Franco-Russian Entente Against ISIS (and by implication, the response will be more European especially French attempts to sabotage the EU sanctions against Russia next summer)
Israel Adam Shamir, a controversial Israeli convert to Russian Orthodox Christianity born a Jew in the Soviet Union, has published an article at The Unz Review accurately summarizing Russia's hopes to restore its old WW1-WW2 era alliance with the French, and how Moscow was disappointed again by Western duplicity. While we would tend to agree with Shamir's reasoning and presentation of the facts, we would disagree with him about whether enough time has passed for the French to wiggle out from under the Anglo-American Empire's crushing embrace. As Team RogueMoney member Wolf Gray and V the Guerrilla Economist himself have said, the French have to keep playing both sides of the fence for the foreseeable future, as they wish to maintain their extensive commercial interests with both the Western and the Eastern sides of Cold War 2.0:
The Paris attacks changed the game. 130 persons were killed, and the attack was claimed by Daesh. This was not a sophisticated action; the total outlay was around €7,000 ($7,500) while the damage was in billions and budget allocations to security industries were in trillions. Daesh claimed the responsibility, while al Qaeda never claimed 9/11 for itself. This time there was a great surge of empathy and mourning all over the world, and nowhere was it stronger than in Russia.
The Russian people feel so much about France and about Paris – probably as much as the Americans of Scott Fitzgerald’s generation. Paris is the place good Russians – like good Americans – go to when they die, rephrasing Oscar Wilde. Mayakovski, the great Russian poet of 1920s, famously said: I’d love to live and die in Paris, and quickly added: if there weren’t Moscow. This love of Paris and France has been a trademark of a Russian nobleman since 18th century: Pushkin’s generation learned French before mastering their own tongue. Russians love to feel European, and France is the only country in Europe they really care for. [here we'd slightly disagree with Shamir, since many Russians we know like Germany and that country has taken in many Russians in recent years, but the Germans historically have lacked the ability to convey a sincere warmth for Russia and Russian high culture ala the Ballets Russes that the French have - JWS]
In France, there were calls for vengeance, and the Russians seconded them. They would love to go to war in a coalition with the French, as they did in the WWI and WWII. Paris attacks fitted Putin’s Destroy Daesh campaign like a glove. At that time, 18 days after the crash and 4 days after the Paris attacks, the Russians declared their air liner was downed by the Daesh. Many previous claims regarding the crash were disowned, reports reinterpreted and made to suit the new version. Instead of the West versus Russia, a new formation began to form, that of Russia and France versus all the rest. [emphasis added by JWS]
Daesh behaved like a good sport and accepted the responsibility for the Russian crash on the next day. They also adapted their version: previously they said they downed the liner with a missile, now they agreed with the Russians and said they did it with a Schweppes can. Nobody queried how did they manage to squeeze three pounds of TNT equivalent into a soft drink can. The Russian-French coalition against Daesh began to take form.
Russian TV broadcast the French Aircraft Carrier Charles de Gaulle rendezvousing with the Russian Missile Cruiser Moskva off Syrian shore, a poignant symbol of two great European nations doing their joint work against the barbarians.
For a short while the Russians forgot that they had come by the Syrian government’s invitation to fight for Syria, while the French considered President Assad a worse plague than Daesh. They poured bombs on the Daesh-held territory, and the Russians penned “For Paris!” on their bombs.
Shamir goes on to describe the problems -- or more accurately, Washington's vigorous strangling -- of this potential entente cordial between Moscow and Paris in its cradle. Shamir writes that the Russians quickly sought a coalition with great propaganda potential, but which offered Moscow's military little in terms of genuine operational support against Daesh. The pinprick nature of the French air strikes against ISIS capital of Raqqa, despite the presence of Europe's only nuclear powered carrier Charles De Gaulle near the Russian flagship Moskva in the eastern Mediterranean, seemingly confirmed this. As my White Russian friend who knows a great deal about the French military the Saker pointed out, the amount of bombs striking ISIS targets from French Rafales, compared to the amount of ordinance delivered by Russia's heavy bombers, was an order of magnitude less. The unseemly bickering over France not having the Assad government's permission to strike targets inside the country, unlike Russia, within a week of the French and Russian Presidents' declarations ought to have given enthusiasts of the new Franco-Russian Entente pause.
Tough rhetoric after a 'stab in the back' - Russia's Tsargrad TV calls the Turks in power 'geopolitical scoundrels' and links them to ISIS
As the Russia Analyst's D.C. source confirmed last week, the shoot down of Russia's Su-24 Fencer strike fighter in a premeditated ambush by Turkish Air Force F-16s was timed to coincide with French President Hollande's arrival in Washington. Like my source, Shamir is convinced the Obama Administration gave Erdogan the green light for and timed the shoot down to scuttle any more serious talk of a French-Russian alliance. The message was sent and received by both Hollande and Putin ahead of their meeting in Moscow on Thanksgiving Day:
This was an illusion-shattering event of great magnitude, the end of a brief season that began with destruction of the Russian airliner, continued with the Paris attacks and ended with the pilots of the Russian bomber parachuting into the hills of North-West Syria. During this silly season, the Russians tried to convince the world and definitely convinced themselves that the grand coalition of 1941-1945 came back to life, and they are fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with the French and the Americans against their joint enemy. Just one missile, and the sweet dream scattered, like the unfortunate Sukhoi bomber.
The downing was not a surprise for me, nor should it be for you: I actually warned you, my reader, it was coming a full month before it occurred. On October 19, 2015 I had been warned by my Turkish correspondents of the Shamireaders group. I passed this warning on October, 22: “Erdogan plans to pull Turkey to the brink of war with Russia. Erdogan has given orders to shoot down Russian planes operating in Syria while claiming they have intruded into Turkish air space.” I published this warning in a leading Russian newspaper, too, a few days earlier.
The downing was a terrible shock for the Russians as they did not expect an attack from the Turkish side. They were carried away by their own rhetoric. They spoke endlessly about the need to fight terrorists, and convinced themselves everybody was on the same page they were. The Turks disabused them. Naturally, the Turks and their NATO allies stood up against the Russians. The Russian claim that “we all should fight Daesh” had propaganda value but not an operational one, and they learned it this painful way.
The Arab newspapers say that President Erdogan obtained President Obama’s blessing for the operation when they met at G20 summit in Turkey. They also say the timing was chosen to derail Mr Hollande’s mission. We do not know whether this is true, but the US and other NATO members expressed their limited support for the Turkish attack. France did not demur, yet. The NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg “expressed solidarity with Turkey and support of Turkey’s territorial integrity”. The US decision to sanction a Russian businessman for dealing with Bashar Assad reminded everyone that for the US the main enemy in Syria has been, and is the legitimate government of Syria, while the Islamic State (Daesh) is an unruly ally.
The Turks carried out their premeditated attack on the Russian bomber because they are protecting Daesh. They are Daesh’s regional minder. Last week, Daesh authorities in Raqqa discontinued usage of the Syrian lira as a legal tender on their territory. From now on, it is Turkish lira that will be used in the new Caliphate. The Turks buy the bulk of the oil produced by Daesh, though some quantity of this oil apparently finds its way to Damascus as well. It is difficult to blame Bashar Assad’s government for its attempts to recover some of its oil from the Daesh thieves, even paying ransom for it. However, such an excuse can’t be made regarding the Turks. It is said that Erdogan’s son is personally involved in buying the stolen oil, but whether it is true or not, oil is transported to Turkey.
Point 4: U.S. Hawks' Plans to Carve a Turkish/GCC Controlled Jihadi 'Safe Zone' Out of N. Syria Are Being Crushed by Russia/Syria/Iran (Even if Turkey closes the Bosporus to Russian shipping, which would be an act of blockade and hence war, Ankara would only lose more)
All it took for the Obama Administration to temporarily sabotage Russia's hoped for Paris-Berlin-Moscow axis to emerge out of the anti-ISIS fight was one Turkish President and a compliant NATO member air force. However, keeping the Russians and French apart from the Germans is a small task for Washington compared to actually making its 'moderate' and even radical Salafist jihadist proxies against the Syrian government militarily competent. In Aleppo region, the jihadis continue to lose ground and even started fighting with the Kurdish YPG. Apparently Turkey's Sunni Arab proxies are unhappy with the YPG and gave them a 48 hour ultimatum to evacuate certain villages or be attacked. The YPG apparently were not impressed and the Turkish/Saudi/Qatar backed Islamists' attacks have failed to dislodge the Kurds. Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups, once touted as Syria's saviors by neocon hacks at the Daily Beast and the U.S. Senate alike have now started fighting each other too.
The U.S. State Department and advocates of the so-called 'moderate' Syrian jihadis are keeping quiet about the clashes because on paper, we have two U.S.-backed groups fighting each other. @EliotHiggins, the pudgy couch potato Atlantic Council/NATO propagandist (who happens to be married to a Turkish lady) aka Mr. @Bellingcat (#Bellingcrap) is busy tweet-bragging about how Russians who organized tours in Turkey will lose their jobs, and re-tweeting Turkish restaurateurs denials that Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's illicit oil-trading son Bilal met with ISIS members in their Istanbul establishment. Meanwhile, pro-Damascus and Shi'a twitter feeds are boasting that the SAA just got some TOW ATGM-resistant T-90 battle tanks equipped with reactive armor from Mother Russia, and are ready to use them to rout the Salafists around Aleppo. Russia continues to mercilessly pummel Turkish truck convoys after they cross the border into Syria, while the Syrian Arab Army is mopping up the country's northwestern border with Turkey.
Despite all the neocon bluster and Zerohedge questions about whether Turkey will tear up the 1936 Montreux Convention and close the Dardanelles/Bosphorus to Russian shipping, there is little evidence the Turkish Army has the stomach to directly invade Syria. Especially not after a considerable number of 'Turkomen' read Turkish soldiers and intelligence officers operating out of uniform have been sent home in body bags by Russian air strikes and Syrian rocket artillery this past week.
Point 5: Germany's Deployment of Troops and Fighter Jets in Support of the French Anti-ISIS Mission is Music to Putin's Ears (despite Hollande's weak repetition of the 'Assad must go' mantra, elements of France's deep state as well as industry want this)
Returning from neo-Ottoman and neocon fantasies about the Turks finally giving Putin his comeuppance to reality, the German government just announced that it's sending a frigate and several Tornado warplanes to help the French anti-Daesh campaign. In fact over 1,200 soldiers of the Bundeswehr are said to be available for the anti-Daesh mission. Yet the question remains where exactly these German troops will be deployed -- previous deployments by Germany to the Middle East have nearly all been to NATO member Turkey.
While it's unlikely that German Chancellor Angela Merkel will risk Washington's wrath and put their troops at the Russian base in Latakia or in any other pro-Syrian regime territory, Jordan seems to be a likely place if Berlin is wary of German troops being deployed to the Turkish border regions with Syria and becoming potential hostages to the tensions between Ankara and Moscow. Jordan incidentally has established agreements with the Russians on intelligence sharing and deconfliction, and has apparently cut off all supplies to the jihadists it once supported. Along with Israel's tacit acquiescence to Russian air strikes right near the Israeli-held Golan Heights border Jordan's cooperation has allowed Assad's forces to rout the jihadists in and around Damascus far southern flank city of Quneitra. Russia's deployment of hypersonic S-400 air defense missiles at its Latakia base has done the rest in terms of cooling any Turkish Air Force enthusiasm for the neocon pipe dream of a 'no fly zone' over northern Syria.
Germany's role in the anti-ISIS conflict is expected to be highly limited, with significant swathes of German public opinion still skeptical of any military deployments due to the legacy of WWII. However, one interesting angle to the whole scenario is that the Bundeswehr will be in the same zone as the Russian military and may very quietly, under the guise of de-confliction, establish its own contacts with the Russian headquarters at Latakia independently of NATO. The French, although NATO members, have already likely done so. It will likely take an order from Chancellor Mutti herself to quickly put a stop to this and force the Germans to adhere to the U.S.-mandated cold shoulder for the Russians approach. All the same, Germany like fellow NATO member Turkey is an official signatory to the U.S.-Russian deconfliction over Syria agreement. Watch for Russian or pro-Russian media outlets to 'leak' out that the Germans respect the Russian military and expect to maintain professional working relations with them in the anti-ISIS coalition, much as Moscow's Sputnik International has played up the Israeli declaration that they have no intention of shooting down any Russian planes or provoking a Turkish-style incident with Moscow.
Point 6: With Turkey Having Created an Irreparable Breach with Russia Until Erdogan/Davutoğlu Are Ousted, Kurdistan is Everyone's Ally (With the collapse of Obama's hopeless Syria policy, Moscow-Paris-Berlin-Washington-Tel Aviv all can back the Kurds in their own ways)
Several months back on the Guerrilla Radio show our colleague Ken Shortgen Jr. predicted that an independent Kurdistan would finally come into existence in the near future, as the stars were aligning among all the great powers for it. The principal obstacle to the Kurds realization of their dream of a state stretching from the northern Iranian mountains to almost the Mediterranean in northwestern Syria is of course, Turkey. The Russians did not intervene in Syria with the goal of helping the Kurds, but Erdogan's stupid act has heightened the calls in Moscow for Russian weapons to flow to the Kurds. In fact, exiled Ukrainian-Russian analyst Rotislav Ischenko believes that the U.S. Deep State set up the Turks to provoke the Russians and, as a plan B if Moscow didn't take the bait and strike back against a NATO member state, fully expected the Russians to start arming the Kurds and taking the Turks' wrath for it rather than the Americans.
In this way, Ischenko believes, the American Deep Staters whose opinion Vice President Joe Biden recently voiced about how the Kurds ought to get their own (presumably U.S. and Israel allied) state can get Putin to do their 'dirty work', by supplying the materiel for a Kurdish insurgency against Turkey. But there are as of yet no signs that Putin is going down that road, only calls by Russian hardliners to repay Erdogan for his role in the destruction of Syria and treachery in his own coin. But as 'W the Intelligence Insider' said on the Friday night Guerrilla Radio program, Putin isn't going to act rashly against and directly strike the Turks, but exploit all the economic cards and allies on his side to establish the new Eurasian order in the Middle East.
What role France will play in Putin's plan remains to be seen, but the axis of Paris-Berlin-Moscow can likely only be suppressed by Washington and remain behind the scenes for a little while longer. The surge in French polling support for open Putin admirer and Gaullist Marine le Pen, and calls for the anti-Russian EU sanctions to be dropped when they're due to expire next summer from a senior parliamentarian in former President Nicolas Sarkozy's mainline UMP are harbingers of big things to come.