CounterPunch: France, Yellow Vests and the MEK
by ROBERT FANTINA
No one today is surprised at the foreign policy of the United States. War, violation of international law and disdain for human rights are all characteristics of the criminal enterprise known as the U.S. government.
Most of the U.S.’s allies display some or all of these same vices, but some are often considered above such activities. One that is mistakenly believed to be better than the U.S. is France. A look at some of its current policies is instructive.
At present, there are two groups active in France. One is known as the ‘Yellow Vests’ an informal organization that started to protest an increase in fuel taxes, and expanded to oppose a wide range of practices of the government of President Emmanuel Macron that are seen as detrimental to the public. There was no well-established plan and no recognized leader.
The second organization is the MEK (Mujahideen-e Khalq), a terrorist organization that seeks the overthrow of the Iranian government. MEK members have been responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent people.
One would think that a responsive government would react positively to protesters opposing government policies. Government officials would look at those policies; acknowledge the problems they cause, and work with the opposition, in this case, the Yellow Vests, to fully understand their concerns. Then they would work to resolve the issues.
One would also think that any reasonable government would condemn a well-organized and well-financed terrorist group, and offer no support to it in any form.
Unfortunately, this is not the case with the government of France. The reverse, unfortunately, is true. The Macron government works tirelessly and violently to end the Yellow Vest protests, while it welcomes and supports the MEK.
Why would this be? The explanation is not difficult to see.
Like most world leaders, Macron isn’t beholden to the people of France, but to keeping the rich where they are, with little or no consideration for those less fortunate. As in the United States, it is the middle class that bears the largest tax burden, while the poor lose entitlements such as assistance with buying food and paying for housing. The tax overhaul that was passed in the United States last year overwhelmingly benefited the rich, at the expense of everyone else. France seems to follow this model.
And what of French support for MEK? This follows the hypocrisy usually demonstrated by the United States. France, one of the signatories of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), condemned the U.S. withdrawal from this international agreement, and French government officials are looking for a means to circumvent the threatened U.S. sanctions if its corporations continue to do business with Iran. Yet they support a terrorist organization whose sole purpose is the overthrow of the Iranian government.
What has Iran done to incur the wrath of France? The government of Iran worked with the Syrian government, one of its close allies, to defeat U.S.-backed rebels who were attempting the overthrow of the Syrian government. Iran also develops defensive weapons to protect its people from a possible attack by the U.S. or apartheid Israel.
Yet Iran hasn’t invaded another country since 1798; it occupies no countries, and its bombs only fell on terrorist-held sites in Syria, at the request of the Syrian government. Why would France object to a nation that honors international alliances, develops an effective defense system, and basically minds its own business on the global stage? And why would France work so diligently to destroy legitimate protests in its own cities?
The United States differs from Iran in many ways. Currently, the U.S. is bombing at least five countries. It continues to support anti-government rebels in Syria. Yet it gives unreserved support to the brutal apartheid Zionist regime, and has close ties with Saudi Arabia which, like Israel, has an abominable human rights record. Since the end of World War II, it is estimated that the U.S. has killed at least 20,000,000 people, by invading or supporting rebels in at least 30 countries. And the rebels it supports always oppose a democratically-elected government, and support a brutal and cruel dictator.
Domestically, the U.S. has the highest number of citizens per capita in its prisons, and hunger and poverty are among the highest for any industrialized nation.
Despite the clown-like Donald Trump inhabiting the White House, much of the world remains intimidated by the U.S.’s reckless use of its power. While Trump is bogged down in a ‘partial’ government shut-down, along with a variety of investigations into his questionable associations with foreign leaders and porn stars, he continues to control the most powerful military system, and the strongest economy, on the planet. France, like most other countries, bows and scrapes to the imperial U.S. master.
Yet all is not well on the French or U.S. fronts. The Yellow Vests aren’t showing any signs of going away anytime soon, and Trump’s bullying isn’t having the impact he would have liked. The fact that several nations are looking for ways around his threatened sanctions is in itself a good sign, one that is indicative of dwindling U.S. power and influence. While France praises the terrorist MEK, it also seeks ways of continuing to trade with Iran.
The United States is a world power in decline, as shown by the mixed signals that France is sending: support for an anti-Iran terrorist group, while also seeking to maintain the JCPOA. The leaders of any declining imperial nation will do all they can to stem the tide of their decreasing power, and this makes such nations even more dangerous, at least in the short-term. France’s government officials should be cautious about which other countries they align their policies with; short-term gains can result in disastrous long-term losses, and France, at this point, appears to be on the wrong side of history. It is hoped that it will soon change course, and seek domestic and international justice.