By The Kremlin, Moscow. Ceremony marking Armistice Day in Paris, France, on November 11, 2018, CC 4.0 International, via Wikimedia Commons.


How is French foreign policy made? Are the rules of French diplomacy clear to all concerned? An insider explains.

The pandemic has not fundamentally rearranged the world’s geopolitical fault lines. But it has heightened threats and demonstrated, clearly, the need for international cooperation. France must, imperatively, become more assertive and self-confident in seeking allies. It must also define rules of behavior that are clear to all concerned. We must stand with people fighting for freedom and democracy, whom President Emmanuel Macron once called “freedom fighters” in an address to the UN General Assembly. And we must be consistent and purposeful in doing so.


China’s persecution of the Uyghurs amounts to a crime against humanity or genocide. Hong Kong’s liberties have been stifled; Taiwan intimidated. The danger is not confined to China’s neighborhood, as the past year has made clear. We have seen, firsthand, how Chinese technologies intrude upon our private lives, the way China threatens regime opponents who have taken refuge in the West, the massive propaganda campaigns aimed at Western public opinion.[1]Consider the case of journalist Laurène Beaumont, an unusually accomplished woman who studied art history and archeology at Sorbonne-IV, finished a master’s degree in journalism, then worked at … Continue reading)

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has killed more than 14,000 people and displaced a million and a half more. It would take pages to catalogue the number and the horror of Russia’s war crimes in Syria; Russia has killed more Syrian civilians than ISIS. Alexey Navalny is the only man left who could marshal a coherent opposition from Putin’s detractors. Having been poisoned with Novichok by Russia’s intelligence services, he now languishes in a Russian penal colony, and the Kremlin’s intention is clear: to murder him by other means. Putin has killed his opponents in countless numbers; they are countless, literally, because so many suspicious deaths remain unsolved. Navalny only narrowly survived the recent attempt on his life. Had it succeeded, we would not know who killed him; or at least, we would have no proof of it.

Turkey’s foreign policy, already erratic and aggressive, has of late become even more troubling. Ankara has threatened two EU members states, Greece and Cyprus, while offering unconditional support—in men and materiel—to Azerbaijan for its offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh.

It is growingly obvious to France’s president and to his counterparts in other democracies that dialogue, consultation, and compromise are insufficient to change the behavior of hostile regimes.

1As the recent negotiations for an EU-China trade deal show, economic cooperation with China only demonstrates to Beijing our dependence. Chastising China on matters of human rights seems to whet Beijing’s appetite for aggression. Defense Minister Florence Parly has acknowledged that engagement with Russia failed to yield concrete results, particularly in Syria and Ukraine. In fact, it has encouraged Putin further to express his contempt for democracy and human rights, domestically and abroad, among other ways by conducting destabilization operations in the very heart of Western countries. As for Turkey, Western democracies are in part divided because of Turkey’s role in NATO, but also because Europe has subcontracted to Ankara control over the influx of Syrian refugees; in either case, the West’s claim to uphold coherent standards is in jeopardy.

Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel have successfully organized a European recovery plan. This plan, in a sense, represents an appeal for cooperation and solidarity within Europe. But successful cooperation in matters external to Europe; to wit, in matters of security and foreign policy, remains to be attained.


It’s a common dictum that France’s so-called loneliness places an intrinsic limit on its foreign policy. In his speech to the Munich Security Conference in February of 2020, Macron offered his imprimatur to this idea.

Macron responded, rhetorically, to the many critics in Europe who accuse him of playing into Putin’s hands by engaging Russia. If we were to respond to the Kremlin’s aggression in Ukraine and Syria, he asked, who would join us? Could we count on the United States? No—and American detachment dates back to Obama; it is not just Trump. (Biden had yet to be elected.) Would Germany join us in the theater of operations? No. Berlin remains a geostrategic dwarf; it could not bear the sight of its fallen children returning in coffins from the battlefield. What about the UK? Maybe a bit more, but London is busy with other things right now—Brexit looms—and it’s shown us its fickle side: Let’s not forget that the British Parliament voted, in 2013, against intervening in Syria. Who’s left? The Nordic countries? They are attached to their neutrality. Poland and the Baltic states? No doubt their spirit is willing, but their force is weak, at least by comparison with Russia. And don’t forget how little support most of our allies offered us during our operations in the Sahel.

There is some truth to this narrative of loneliness. France’s voice is heard at the United Nations and elsewhere, to be sure, but it is not in the driver’s seat. Nonetheless, declarations of loneliness can become a self-fulfilling prophecy and maladroit policies can add loneliness to loneliness. Critics have noted that Emmanuel Macron has transformed himself from Europe’s Wunderkind into an irritant, if not a menace. His outstretched hand to Russia has baffled our allies. Never mind if at times their assessments have been too harsh: Remember, Macron’s administration never pushed to lift sanctions; Macron has denounced the Kremlin’s propaganda organs, and called Navalny’s poisoning an “assassination attempt,” all while pushing for fresh—if inadequate—sanctions on Moscow. In politics, perception matters.

It was predictable that all hope of using dialogue to lubricate France’s relationship with Moscow would be dashed. But this does not mean we are condemned to loneliness in foreign policy, as the agreement on the European recovery plan clearly shows. A new orientation in substance, process, and—especially—narrative would radically change the situation.

The key point of contention is France’s disposition toward Moscow. This is not so much about substance—no one, including me, has ever claimed we should seal off every channel of communication to the Kremlin—but about the language the President uses, a strange echo of the rhetoric of Russian disinformation, with talk of recognizing the “humiliation” Russia experienced after the fall of the Soviet Union; the need to “understand” Russia’s positions and grievances; allusions to history that are scarcely relevant to our problems today; the use of Putin’s phrase, “Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok,” owed to the neo-fascist Russian philosopher Alexander Dugin; the ritual invocation of “progress.”

Navalny’s poisoning caused Macron to take Putin’s regime seriously as a systemic threat. Subsequently, his tone toward the Kremlin was notably sharp; soon after, for the first time, he publicly expressed concern about the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, although he ultimately refused to confront Germany. France was prepared to commit to new sanctions. Meanwhile, his secretary of state for European affairs, Clément Beaune, described dialogue with Russia as “neither unconditional nor irreversible.” In another sign of major change, the so-called 2 + 2 meeting of Russian and French foreign and defense ministers scheduled for September 2020 was postponed sine die.

Suspending discussions related to the new “architecture of security and confidence” (it’s hard to know exactly what this phrase means) would be the logical continuation of these developments, but Macron has rejected the suggestion, even though French allies would welcome it. Still, it is essential that gains the president has made at the European level with the recovery plan not disappear in favor of an initiative that will yield precisely zero results so long as Putin remains in power. Certainly, the idea for ​​this new architecture may stay, but its implementation must wait for better times.

The visibility of the Kremlin’s propaganda organs around Alexander Lukashenko, the support Russian security forces have likely offered to his thuggish regime, and Putin’s discreet efforts to prevent the emergence of a free and democratic regime in Belarus should lead us to be wary of mediation by the OSCE. Moscow could readily control the complex mechanics of this. Our quiet warnings to the Kremlin about overtaking Minsk—through some form of union or by strengthened ties between Russia and Belarus—should be credible, but the content of our warning should be sharper. We haven’t made it sufficiently clear that Moscow must have no say on the situation there and that the very idea of zones of influence is unacceptable.

Perhaps we should push Putin to let go of Lukashenko, for whom he has no respect. The results would not be guaranteed. But Europeans have little room to maneuver, save by supporting civil society and offering conditional aid from the European Union. Notably, following a meeting between Emmanuel Macron and Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaïa, the Kremlin denounced French “interference.” This illustrates the limits of any possible dialogue. Still, compared to other European countries, France seems shy in supporting Belarus’s civil society and opposition. We have not backed free Belarusian media, universities, and trade unions; nor have we welcomed Belarusian refugees and students.


The EU is more determined than it was in the past to define itself as a power and assert its own foreign policy. Or so it says, at least. If France were to forswear the ambiguities in its language and policies, Paris would have a historic opportunity to bridge the gaps among European countries, especially the South and the East, not least because France is now the EU’s only nuclear power and its only permanent member of the Security Council.

France has the potential to be the leading force in Europe, but only if it ceases to exaggerate Europe’s potential for autonomy vis-à-vis the United States and instead plays an active and constructive role.

Beyond the problems of Russia and China, there is Turkey. The Turkish president’s policy, often described as neo-Ottoman, is a threat to the heart of Europe and requires a firm European response. But this NATO member, who has been, worryingly, fanning the flames in Nagorno-Karabakh, requires delicate and sensitive management. Certainly, the EU won’t be able to persuade Ankara to adopt a more reasonable and constructive position without help from the Biden Administration.

No matter how relieved we are by the outcome of the American election, we must find ways of strengthening not just our key alliances within Europe, but in the Asia Pacific, chiefly with Japan, South Korea, Australia, and Singapore. France has begun pursuing a more active policy in this respect, but it must overcome a certain skepticism in the region.

In all these matters, France and the EU have a vital ally in the new American administration. It would be pointless and even puerile to look for differences with the United States just for the sake of it. Indeed, as we confront Beijing and Moscow—as we ought to do—it would be insane to insist upon our differences. In other parts of the world, though, such as the Middle East and Africa, France and Europe should absolutely be at the forefront and should convince the US to do more. This is what I meant by active and constructive. We must show that we can take the initiative when it is in our mutual interest.

The multiple fronts now open to Europe and France require a reinvention, or at times a reaffirmation, of the principles of our foreign policy. We need a road map, marked by clear principles, structured by a shared vision, that shows not only the dangers ahead, but our plan to address them—a plan that has yet to be made.

This will be the subject of the second part of this essay.

Nicolas Tenzer is a senior French civil servant and the founding president of the Paris-based independent think tank, Centre d’étude et de réflexion pour l’Action politique (Center for Study and Research for Political Decision). An expert and author on foreign policy and security, he has written three official reports for the French government. He is a guest professor at Sciences-Po Paris.

This essay is based upon a French original published in The Conversation.

Hear Nicolas Tenzer in conversation with Claire Berlinski and Monique Camarra on Episode 6: The Cosmopolicast.


1 Consider the case of journalist Laurène Beaumont, an unusually accomplished woman who studied art history and archeology at Sorbonne-IV, finished a master’s degree in journalism, then worked at the most prestigious editorial offices in Paris for some years before moving to Beijing. She reported from Beijing for seven years until, as luck would have it, she married into a family from Xinjiang. Recently, she has taken issue with Western media coverage of the region; she has filed such stories as “My Xinjiang: End the tyranny of fake news.” Thanks to an investigation by Le Monde, we recently learned that Ms. Beaumont suffers what you might call a metaphysical defect: She does not exist. China invented her from whole cloth. (For more, listen to our recent China Cosmopolicast.


  1. “No matter how relieved we are by the outcome of the American election…” Whaddya mean “we”, White Man?

    • That escalated quickly.

    • Claire Berlinski | April 10, 2021 at 5:00 am | Reply

      Huh. I’ve been proudly telling our writers how unusually good our comments section has been, but this one doesn’t really rise to the occasion. Come on, Alan, you’re such a thoughtful writer, and you’ve had much experience that I know–for sure–is of great interest to our readers, but that comment makes you sound like a troll. Why not make your point seriously if you’ve got a serious point to make? The article is prefaced with an introduction that clearly says, “This is a point of view you may not often see: France speaking to France.” The “we” is, clearly, France. You’re not part of the rhetorical “we.” If you doubt that the French are relieved by the result of the election, how about coming up with evidence to the contrary? If you think the author is mistaken in his assessment of the French national interest, why not make the case?

  2. Thomas M Gregg | April 10, 2021 at 3:56 pm | Reply

    France would be wrong to place much faith in the Biden Administration, which though it may mouth the correct slogans, will prove as unreliable in its way as the Trump Administration was. One area to watch is US defense policy. As has been noted here in in the recent podcast on China, the US armed forces are in a bad way and urgently require refurbishing. But what do we hear from the Biden Defense Department? Puerile blather about “diversity,” “critical race theory,” etc. Frederick the Great quipped that “Diplomacy without armed force is like a musical score without instruments,” and that’s the condition to which the US is declining. I judge it unlikely in the extreme that the Biden Administration will prove willing to spend the money necessary to restore the US armed forces to fighting trim.

    Anyhow, public opinion in America will not support a foreign policy that appears to risk war.

    In theory, the EU is large and powerful enough to counter Russia—perhaps even China. But its actual power is much less than population figures and economic data suggest. A robust foreign policy requires high national morale and self-confidence—qualities that as far as I can see Europe lacks.

    • I might echo a similar perspective but from a different point of view which is that I don’t think the people around Biden and in general, the activist base of the Democratic Party thinks very highly of Emmanuel Macron on most issues whether they be economic or cultural. The peculiar problem for France is the people in France that say a regular viewer of the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC TV in the US really like i.e. Thomas Piketty, Gabriel Zucman, and some of the other intellectual remnants of the Francois Hollande era Socialist Party i.e. Benoit Hamon are from everything I see coming from France deader than a doornail politically. Thus there is bound to inevitable disappointment on the part of Biden supporters when the French people don’t choose the likes of Piketty and Zucman to be in charge.

      A good person to ask about this dichotomy is CG writer Arun Kapil is a French Socialist Party member and a strong Biden/Democratic Party supporter in the US. I find the most telling about Arun is he almost never talks about French politics anymore on his blog which used to be a mix of American and French. It is now all American all the time at least from my point of view which I think is an implicit signal from Arun that there is much political hope at the moment for the French.

      This brings up another point which is there is no true social democratic party in power in the G7 beyond Biden other than maybe to a very limited extent Justin Trudeau’s Liberals(which are actually officially aligned with En Marche and Renew Europe not Biden’s Democrats).

      • There have been some Twitter discussions that I have been participating related to the possibility of a more explicit Franco-Canadian political alliance and I wanted to elaborate my views further on this. I think a closer Franco-Canadian political alliance would make a lot of sense both countries share a lot of the same “interests” in the traditional sense of the term however, the most interesting part about such an alliance which relates to my previous comment is I think on many issues where France and Canada have distinct commons interests they would tend to find these same interests somewhat in conflict with viewpoints of Biden, his administration, and his supporters. Nuclear power for example is an area where France, Canada(and also possible the UK) could work more closely together but would be very unpopular among people like Rachel Maddow and AOC.

        Second these international negotiations over international corporate taxation are another area where I think France and Canada would have common interests again in a traditional sense but those common interests are going to be in conflict with Biden’s goal to use the same negotiations to help raise a lot of revenue for his administration so he can pass a big infrastructure bill in the US that will almost entirely be domestic focused.

        Thirdly vaccine exports are another area where Canada and France both have strong reasons to really dislike the US export ban but on other hand getting rid of the export ban would hurt Biden domestically in the US and perhaps make it more likely another Trumpist or Trump himself is elected President in the next election. (One way my second and third points link together is Biden’s team is probably going to try get France, Canada, and other countries for example to disavow giving tax incentives in the future to get more vaccine production or PPE production based in their two countries. Biden’s international tax and economic advisors like Kimberly Clausing(UCLA) when they were in academia already called for stuff like this).

        So I guess the question I have for Owen, Claire, Arun, Toomas, Nicolas and others is how much should countries like France and Canada subordinate there own interests in order to help Biden and Bidenism succeed in the US domestically and don’t think this is an outlandish question I have run into more than a few people who think the only goal of Canadian/French foreign policy at the moment should be to get Biden re-elected and keep Trump/Trumpism out and if that means shutting up about vaccine export bans while people die so be it.

      • Thomas M Gregg | April 10, 2021 at 7:59 pm | Reply

        That progressives in the US entertain many fantasies about European political leaders and European politics generally strikes me as a very good point. That’s why, for example, they never saw Brexit coming.

        • I have given this some thought for the past few hours. I actually think it is more that politically active Americans whether they be progressive or conservative very much want to re-make the world in America’s image(notwithstanding the fact that both progressives and conservatives disagree among themselves what America should actually be). Thus you almost entirely inevitably find disappointment on the part of politically influential Americans when they find out that the rest of the world really doesn’t want to be remade in America’s image. (This subject kind of came up during the last China podcast the CG hosted).

          More specifically back to Brexit I actually think if you go back and look more closely at the time of the Brexit vote there were actually quite a few American “progressive” thinkers especially in the economic sphere who were either public in support of Leave like Joseph Stiglitz or actively neutral like Paul Krugman. If you look at it going even further back I would Stiglitz and Krugman have been quite cool to the EU since at least the Eurozone crisis and perhaps even earlier.

          Maybe the more specific question for Claire and Arun is to what level and extent should France for example at least give a semblance of considering to make themselves more like America given how important Americans themselves think about that and given the importance of America’s global role and keeping the American citizenry in support of that global role. I know Claire and Arun are smart enough to know France isn’t being re-made in the image of America no matter how many people wish it on the US side but unlike myself who thinks France should simply slam the door in the face of America, Claire and Arun have long seemed to imply that France should at least take some type of public appreciation for the Biden project and Bidenism and perhaps just perhaps give a subtle hint to New York Times reading Americans that maybe France will consider becoming more “American” even if in reality they have no intention of ever becoming more “American”.

          PS. I know that it might seem from my many posts and my many Twitter comments over the years that I am some sort of harder than hard Gaullist Franco-elitist but just so should know the first time I visited Paris when I was 19 years old so of French people in the service sector I ran into were so rude in terms of me trying to ask for assistance they made me cry on multiple occasions during that trip(BTW, I think this is the first I have ever talked about this to anyone) So I know very well about the downsides of French society and culture.

          • In what ways would or should France signal that they are considering becoming more American? (I suspect this would be electoral death for a political party in France, but ??)

          • Claire or Arun might give a better answer but I suspect it would be along the lines of France becoming more woke and socially multi-cultural. Actually the best person to ask this question of would be James Macaulley the Washington Post’s Paris correspondent or Steven Erlanger of the New York Times.

          • Actually a more interesting question for Claire and Nicolas is whether Biden’s election was a “relief” for France in the sense that it gives France and the EU four years at least to prepare and get there ducks in order for the next “Trump like” American President or does it mean that Trumpism is fully vanquished never to come back. If the “relief” is towards the later that is dangerously naïve sentiment.

          • Claire Berlinski | April 11, 2021 at 10:18 am |

            France isn’t like that anymore. It was, for sure. But there’s been a real social revolution: Parisians are now among the most polite and friendly people you’ll encounter. No, I can’t explain it, either. But I sure welcome it:

          • There were already signs of this even 20 years ago. I think rudeness even back then was more a thing among public servants in the museums and at the Metro/Railroad stations than the public at large. Actually, some “regular” French people went way out of their way to help me as a tourist on that.

            Maybe another insight of the time that still shapes my politics today. This was “just” after 9/11 and I was probably one of the few people in the US who knew that had been another attempt at a prior 9/11 style in attack France earlier and the French govt had unlike the United States government successfully stopped it. So as harsh as the rudeness seemed right in the moments I also after I calmed myself down I remembered that at a high political level I admire the French people as a people who succeeded while I looked at my elders in the American government and “high level” as failure and idiots for letting 9/11 happen.

            **I am referring to Air France Flight 8969 that Arun Kapil knows about it every movie about it that was ever made.


          • My previous comments about American elites wanting to remake the world in America’s image is very much a sentiment I started to have after that trip. I am reminded of it even this afternoon as Tom Nichols on Twitter is trying to twist himself all over the place over defending his support of the Iraq War as an American elite at the time by basically saying everyone else in the American elite supported the war.


            I guess my conclusion from that first trip to France and that time period, in general, is Nichols is basically arguing that while he was wrong about Iraq and Chirac was right Chirac was reckless but the pre-9/11 America I grew up that changed right under my feet said it doesn’t matter if Chirac is/was reckless all that matters, in the end, is Chirac was right and Tom Nichols was wrong. In fact, the post 9/11 period in my mind is when America started to change from the hard-nosed 1980s and 1990s that I grew up and Nichols claims to adore into this more touchy-feely emotional America that Nichols claims to despise all the while he using these touchy-feely emotional arguments to get out of the fact that Jacques Chirac was right and success while Tom Nichols was a failure and wrong.

            **Something else about that trip I remember is again as upset as I was at the rudeness I encountered in Paris I remembered that the pre 9/11 America I grew up in said you had to be tough and strong and not let some rude Parisian subway clerk get to you. That a successful guy in America in an 80s/90s sense was a “tough” guy none of this 2000s and 2010s touchy feely wokeness.

          • Thomas M Gregg | April 11, 2021 at 10:22 pm |

            The last thing I’d wish to see is France remade in America’s image. Nor do I think that very many American progressives or conservatives want that. However, there are groups and groups of progressives who’d like to see America remade in the image of what they ignorantly imagine Europe to be: a land of free stuff, paid for by pillaging “the rich” and “greedy corporations.” Remember Occupy Wall Street!

  3. Will strive now to rise from underachiever trolling here, Claire.

    Firstly, while assuredly not any kind of français de souche, I do hold a valid French passport, lived in Paris (and ex-Indochine française) for several decades, am long married into an extended French traditional Catho family with which I remain close; and thereby qualify —if semi-arguably— under your preferred pronoun for this thread: “we”.

    Firstly, for non-American non-geezers, the alleged troll shtick is actually the punchline of an old joke based on the wildly popular N&B 1950s TV serial western, the Lone Ranger; about the adventures of a face-masked, free-lance Texas lawman and his loyal BIPOC sidekick Tonto. The hypothetical episode has them out of ammunition and surrounded by hostile redskins, with the hero saying “I guess this is curtains for us”, to which Tonto responds “Whaddya mean we, White Man”.

    While we’re unpacking obscure, specifically American cultural trivia, not long after it came out, I saw Woody Allen’s “Sleeper” at a fashionable rep cinema house in the Bastille. The plot line has Woody, who was immersed for a century in a tank of liquid nitrogen following a failed minor surgery, but since he didn’t have any techno implants, bio IDs, nor a detailed backstory in the databases of the evil regime now in power, he was thawed out specifically to lead an incipient armed rebellion.

    At the time of his semi-demise —so explains Woody to his new revolutionary comrades— the USA was descending into a nuclear holocaust as a result of “somebody named Shankar who somehow got hold of an A-bomb”. That was a reference to the extremely outspoken and combative then-president of the New York Teachers Union, Albert Shankar, who famously said his interest in benefitting public school students would begin when they themselves started paying union dues.

    Pretty funny, alright, but almost nobody who wasn’t a politically attuned New Yorker at the time could possibly have understood that to which Woody was alluding. Yet the français de souche avant le lettre Paris audience bizzarely broke out in riotous laughter. I think because they heard “chancre” for Shankar and thought it had something to do with STDs. At that moment, lightning struck as I realized how utterly, absolutely clueless the French intellos were/still are about the “U., S. and A.” as Borat calls us.

    While I’m at it, I remember responding some years ago to an article intended for anglophones by not-quite français des souche Paris essayist Art Goldhammer, writing how shocked, shocked he was to hear of a seemingly-ordinary US home found to contain “three guns and a shotgun”; evidently with him assuming that such an arsenal surely indicated a nexus of white nationalist insurrectionist racist deplorable crazies. I noted that of the eighty million households sheltering perfectly legal firearms, having three or four or more was as likely as having only one. And these were people who while more probably registered Republicans than Democrats, voted in person at their polling places, paid their property taxes and parking tickets, held regular jobs and sent their kids to public schools.

    More germane to Tenzer’s blurb is given that the Biden administration is regarded —correctly or not— as fraudulent by almost exactly half of the US electorate (and perhaps slightly less than half of the US House and Senate) and thus is in no position to get the American people behind any kind of noble, and possibly-armed intervention in support of “liberal democracy” and globalized responsibility to our putative allies in Europe.

    Or more immediately pressing, in mainland Southeast Asia; more particularly Myanmar, which after a fastidiously non-violent initial coup, has sunk into bloody lunacy (and regarding which Biden’s new UN Rep just said, in effect, “let’s roll”).

    Kindly remind me again what happened with the last such crusades in those parts, and more recently in Uzbeckybeckybeckistan?

    While all the US Presidents from Kennedy through Obama may not have been loved in some quarters, nobody thought they were doddering halfwits, well along the way into Alzheimers. Nearly all of Trump’s 71 miilion voters still believe that the Biden presidency is in its entirety a cats-paw of the virtue-signaling, lefty, deep state, swamp who heartily detest them and their values.

    If the French think the US Cavalry is about to ride in to protect them from Putin the Poisoner, they got another think coming. While it’s probably true that you/we French were “relieved” by the election, they/we are grievously wrong to think that any advantage will accrue accordingly, compared to which would have happened had Trump remained in office. Wake up and die right!

    • Claire Berlinski | April 11, 2021 at 10:15 am | Reply

      Thank you for the effort, Alan. Now, how about filling in the gaps in the argument you’re making? What advantages do you think would have accrued from a second Trump term? US withdrawal from NATO was a very real possibility. Trump would not have stood up to Putin in any way. Did he ever? Even once? Remember Helsinki?

      • Before I attempt the requested focused response, I would pose this question: of the educated and articulate Russian and FSU Jews who emigrated to the USA after the collapse of the USSR whom I’ve spoken to about politics —in contrast to the earlier “refuseniks”— they were generally pro-Trump and equally so, pro-Putin; who for reasons cynical or not, is himself evidently quite close to the resuscitated Lubovitcher/Chabad establishment in Russia. Now what could they know that you don’t know? Also, regarding the possible US withdrawal from NATO that might have happened in a second Trump term, I do recollect that De Gaulle pulled France out of NATO by degrees, starting in 1959, and as a non-expert on modern European military strategy, I can’t speak as to how deeply effective or committed was France’s nominally rejoining NATO in 2009. In the years in when I lived in France, which were a decade earlier, there were no NATO bases or non-French military establishments. There are at present no US military personnel in France, apart from diplomatic adjuncts. Why the horror over Trump hypothetically pulling the plug? Returning to my dismissal of the Biden administration as a fracturing Potemkin Village (and the taking of progressive apparatchiki like Rachel Maddow’s analyses as accurately indicative of l’Amerique profonde’s support of the new dispensation in D.C.) the French will sooner or later come to a rude awakening.

      • Thomas M Gregg | April 12, 2021 at 8:14 pm | Reply

        What you say about Trump may well be true, but if it is the change from Trump to Biden hardly improves matters. Yes, I know, Biden & Co. run around proclaiming that “America is back”—but back to where? NATO is first and foremost a military alliance and like it or not the US has to take the lead in supplying the requisite armed force. This was the rationale for our Cold War positioning of major combat units in Europe, and it hasn’t changed. Complaining about Germany’s defense budget gets us nowhere. Either the US steps up or NATO’s a dead letter.

        So once again, it comes back to the question: Is the US willing to spend the money necessary to supply that lead? It doesn’t look that way to me—if for no other reason than the Biden Administration’s zany flights of fiscal fancy. Where’s the money to come from?

        • Money is the least of it! Given that there hasn’t been military conscription since the Nixon administration, and the sectors of American society which were willing, until now, to enlist in the armed forces would likely be disproportionately unenthusiastic —to say the least— about the “new dispensation” in DC, especially the part where Biden’s Defense Secretary has gone off the deep end with tailoring flight suits for pregnant fighter pilots, and is right now prioritizing a web crawler bot search through the social media crumb trails of all 600K people currently under arms —so to speak— to identify and expel the seditionistists/insurrectionists, white nationalists, neo-nazi’s, blah blah blah. See Tucker Carlson’s scathing hit on all this…

  4. Further to my up-thread remarks on Myanmar, you might look through this…


  5. I guess I should chime in my final comment of the night that I appear to have started a mini-war between France and the US or at least between myself and Claire’s friend Tom Nichols on Twitter. I have invited Tom to come here and argue further about the merits of French and American foreign policy and decision making.

    • All publicity is good?

      • Tom to this day is very upset about Jacques Chirac opposing the Iraq War while he supported it. I was just pointing out how much of a genius Chirac was and how much of an idiot Tom was.

        • While I have take the rest of the night off Tom Nichols is now on Twitter apparently blaming Jacques Chirac and his supporters for the present state of American politics i.e. Trump.

  6. Hello! Just been reading comments in the French press about the quarter million euro fines being recently levied against Eric Zemour’s media outlet(s) for non-deplatforming his Bad Think; and about Marine LePen at minumum being one of the two finalists in the upcoming elections, with a fair chance to actually take it this time. Oh, what happened anyway with the Gilets Jaunes? So yeah, back to the important stuff like the Biden admin’s strategic prescience and about the brightest and the best —yours and ours— so delighted that Trump is out of the picture.

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