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Saturday, July 20, 2024

How ‘Putin endorsed Le Pen’: Russiagate comes to France

If you thought the Western establishment was done shifting blame for its own fiascos, think again

It is perfectly predictable and yet a sorry spectacle every time it happens: the great big bad Russia panic whenever, and that’s frequently nowadays, Western liberals and Centrists are losing their grip.

This time it’s the turn of France. With the far-right/right-populist National Rally (RN) under Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella succeeding at the polls as never before, French and other Western mainstream media are serving up the same stale old dish of fearmongering and, most importantly, blame shifting.

Russiagate, or really Russia Rage (as in Road Rage), and its many copies, have been with us since Hillary Clinton and her cult were incapable of facing the fact that she lost the 2016 US presidential election because she is a dreadful person with no redeeming graces – and unlike her naturally gifted if shifty and immoral husband, a catastrophically incompetent politician. And like every good form of insanity, Russia Rage is absolutely immune to both falsification and its own record of failure, even as a piece of demagoguery. We know that the only real scandal about “Russiagate” was that it was a hoax, the result of massive exaggeration, outright lying, and all-round manipulation by Democratic party operatives and their media allies. We also know that it did not even work on its own dishonest terms.

Russia Rage was, in American journalist Matt Taibbi’s words, an epic disaster.” Indeed, if it had any political effect, then to ultimately help – not damage – its target, Donald Trump: Almost a decade after the inception of the “Russiagate” hoax, Trump is back, stronger than ever and set to capture the American presidency again. And this time, his organization and plans are much more elaborate and ambitious, and, just now, obliging conservative judges at the Supreme Court have also equipped him with almost perfect legal immunity.

The other thing that Russia Rage did accomplish is, of course, to massively damage the credibility of US mainstream media. Not that they ever deserved any (ask the Iraqis, for instance, owners of non-existent WMDs and victims of an absolutely illegal and devastating war of aggression based on a big fat lie eagerly supported by those media). But Russia Rage brought the lying home in a way that woke up many Americans. By 2022, US media credibility was the lowest among 46 nations, according to a study by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.” One year before, “83 percent of Americans saw ‘fake news’ as a ‘problem,’ and 56 percent – mostly Republicans and independents – agreed that the media were “truly the enemy of the American people.”

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And yet, here we go again. In best Russia Rage style, the Washington Post, relying unquestioningly on French intelligence services and, of course, anonymous “sources,” is mapping out a whole “ecosystem” of Russian influence campaigns targeting, it maintains, the French election as well as the Olympics. And not only now but for about a year already. One wonders how those wicked Russians foresaw Macron’s bizarre decision to cap his EU Parliament election failure with a snap legislative election at home to make the fiasco complete. Or, perhaps, must we now assume that Macron is working for Russia as well? Who knows?

The French paper of record Le Monde has been keeping up a steady, ominous drumbeat for months already, keeping its readers on edge with tales of Russian subversion and, always, of course, the National Rally as its tool. Perish the thought that this could have anything to do with the RN being the most popular and most dangerous challenger to the Macronist regime of extreme Centrism.

Last June already, Le Monde, in essence, copied a report produced, literally, by a deputy from Macron’s party to go after the National Rally with allegations of being in cahoots with Moscow. At the same time, another piece sounded the alarm about poor France lacking preparedness for an “information war” and, again, fingered the RN, obviously. This February, the newspaper faithfully channeled the French DGST security and intelligence service, warning that – yes, you are guessed it right – the Russians were up to no good, seeking to “destabilize the European elections.” Well, in retrospect, the elections went just fine – no riots, no cheating, no “instability” – and a perfectly solid defeat for Macron.

By now, with Macron’s silly early-election gamble is in a shambles, whatever the outcome of the second round on 7 July, Le Monde has reached a crescendo of Russia Rage with an article announcing that the Russia of Putin has endorsed the National Rally.”  What really happened is that a post (not linked in the Le Monde article, and probably too “dangerous” to look at for its readers) on the X account of Russia’s Foreign Ministry showed a picture of a celebrating Marine Le Pen. And, to make that dreadful weapon of mass influence complete, there was a text as well, saying that France was seeing growing demand “for a sovereign foreign policy,” reflecting the country’s “national interests” and also for an end to “the diktat of the USA and the EU.” The French authorities, the post continued, “will not be able to ignore fundamental shifts in the attitudes of the preponderant majority of citizens.”

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Emmanuel Macron (L) and Olaf Scholz arrive for a photo at the end of a joint Franco-German cabinet meeting in Meseberg, Germany, May 28, 2024
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Quibble if you wish, but personally I would not speak of “diktat” because EU elites love to submit voluntarily, in exchange for power, a career, and a sumptuous lifestyle. It’s not a diktat, it’s a sale. And that majority among the French may not be quite “preponderant” yet. But otherwise, frankly, where’s the lie? Of course, for stalwarts of the Macronist status quo, juxtaposing the message with a picture of Le Pen is a red rag.

And let’s be fair, the picture is a message – but a very mild one. A subtle hint indeed, compared to the West’s habit, entirely taken for granted, of openly calling for “regime change” in Russia and welcoming even violence, assassinations, and terrorism in its pursuit. What the Russian Foreign Ministry has dared to signal is what everyone already knows: that the National Rally stands for a different foreign policy, one of seeking dialogue and compromise with Moscow. That is a perfectly legitimate position that French voters have a right to prefer without being smeared as traitors; and it is also perfectly legitimate for Russia to publicly recognize that fact.

In short, Russia Rage is one of the few things that do not sound better in French. It’s still the same tired, lame, offensively silly procedure. It’s also very sad, almost tragic. Let’s assume – for the sake of argument – that all the allegations made in various Russia Rage stories and narratives were true, every single one. They are not, but let’s assume. See what happens? Nothing. Even if Russia were behind all of those “influence operations,” they simply would not matter. Or, at the very least, their so-called “influence” would be negligible. Because in politics, everything is relative. And by comparison with the abysmal failures of Western elites across all policy domains, from the economy to foreign policy, to security, none of what big bad Russia is alleged to have done remotely amounts to a game changer. The true influence operation that is bringing down Western status quo elites is their own failure. And in the EU, especially their failure to finally emancipate their countries from declining, unpredictable, and highly damaging overlords in Washington. Rage at that, for a change.

July 07, 2024 at 04:48PM
RT

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