Hollande’s dilemma: Join Russia or remain a Neocon poodle
When François Hollande arrives in Moscow [on November 26] to meet President Vladimir Putin, France will be 15 years late joining Russia against Islamic terrorists. Russia has been at this war not just since the start of the military campaign in Syria against ISIL/ISIS/Daesh, but for nearly two decades.
There is no doubt that President Putin will provide all the help the French are humble enough to seek in destroying ISIL’s infrastructure in Syria and Iraq, but he is not going to indulge Hollande. The French president may yet be all bluster and bluff, directed at domestic public opinion, but Putin will not have any patience for theatrics. Hollande will need to bring substance and gravitas if he wants to create a meaningful and effective alliance against ISIL, he will need to make a genuine overture toward Russia, showing that he means business to earn its trust.
Unless he makes a fundamental shift in French policy toward Russia and against ISIL now, his successor will. France needs Russia, but Russia is not holding its breath for France even if it sheds tears for the French people.
Sooner or later, Europe will reset relations and align itself with Russia as a matter of survival. Angela Merkel and François Hollande can either initiate that process or watch themselves relegated to the garbage heap of history as the leaders who led Europe into an abyss. They can either set things right, or be forgotten, as leaders whose fumbling inadequacies saw the end of European security and its dreams of a prosperous future.
Europe has not imploded because of home-grown Islamic terror, or an ideology exported from Syria, but because of years of misplaced antagonism toward Russia that diverted critical resources from real threats and challenges. Worse, Hollande and Merkel joined in demonizing Russia while European acquiescence enabled the Islamic State, the most dastardly terror machine of twenty-first century, to grow.
Hollande and Merkel lost touch with the instincts of visionary Europeans, who have remained steadfast despite two decades of rampant Russophobia from the mainstream media. These people know that Russia is a natural ally of Europe, a valiant defender of humanity in the face of evil, and a guarantor of peace and security on the Eurasian continent.
Hollande would do well to visit tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow and make up for his absence from the 70th anniversary of Russia’s victory over Nazism. He should also visit the Nord Ost theater – the Bataclan of Moscow – where 50 armed terrorists in suicide vests took over 850 hostages thirteen years ago, paying homage to those victims.
But if he wants to protect France and Europe from specter of Islamic terror, he will have to do more. He will need Russia to pull Europe out of the spiral of recession and economic morass.
He will need to understand that Russia won the war over domestic (foreign sponsored) terrorism not only through military strategy, but because while waging and winning a war with terrorists, Vladimir Putin created a Russian federation of democratic institutions and multiethnic cohabitation.
He will need to bring back lessons for France: how, in the face of terror, it can give new meaning to equality and fraternity with all faiths and cultures. As Russia has done, France will need to create a safe common space for all French and migrants whether they are Christians, Muslims or Jews.
Its future will be assured only if like Russia, it reasserts the founding principles of the United Nations charter, respecting the security and sovereignty of all nations.