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Hollande on Syria: That’s Me in The Spotlight, Losing My Religion

Andrew McKillop
21st Century Wire


France’s power elite unwillingly creaked ajar the door to a parliament vote on “punitive strikes” against Syria.

The door was much less than half-open, but previously it was bolted shut. In interviews with and statements to leading French TV news chains like BFM TV, Francois Hollande and his Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, on September 4, made it clear they will only call a vote in parliament “at the right time”. Asked what that means, Hollande’s Parti Socialiste officials explained, ‘It means no vote will be allowed until and unless a yes vote is totally certain’.

IMAGE: Francois looking cool with Washington’s Teflon Don (Photo: AP)

Borrowing a one-liner from Barack Obama, they said that could take a day, a week, a month or whatever. Like the casual left-like Obama, Francois Hollande styles himself as a stout defender of democracy.

Under growing political pressure from inside his own ranks, as well as the opposition UMP party, as well as the far left and far right, French President François Hollande has a domestic conflict – the country remains deeply skeptical about military intervention in Syria. Polls run by BFM TV, among others, show that about 75% of French demand a vote before any military action against Syria.

On September 3rd, a leading government minister, Alain Vidalies said that Mr. Hollande hadn’t ruled out holding a vote on French involvement in Syria. But no vote will be allowed in the first parliamentary debate Mr. Hollande has allowed, for September 4th. Vidalies, the day before, shied away from the question of allowing the parliament to vote – imagine a parliament able to vote on going to war or not! – saying Hollande had not yet made up his mind on the subject.

The next day we got the answer. Voting will only be allowed… when a yes vote is guaranteed.


French are whittling down their long list of taboos – even including their definition of Johnny Hallyday as a “great rock singer” at least equal to the Beatles, or that French wine despite being laced with fantastic quantities of pesticides is “the finest in the world”. Vidalies in his Sept 3rd interview with French media said that Hollande has the nearly-imperial power of being able to decide when or if parliament votes on any subject at all – but a vote on French military strikes against its former colony Syria does not constitute a taboo.

He said: “The president has the power to decide whether there will be a vote, and it’s not a taboo for François Hollande”. Vidalies added that Hollande “will be talking to the nation” about France’s possible role in Syria after the fighting, without specifying when. Maybe surviving Syrians can be “turned on” to 45-year-old tunes from Belgian-origin Johnny Hallyday? Being Muslim majority, their ability to imbibe French pesticides in the form of wine could be limited.

To be sure the possibility of a vote throws the spotlight on Mr. Hollande, President Barack Obama’s only European military ally on Syria, as the American leader seeks congressional authorization. The U.K. government dropped its planned military support last week after its own parliament balked.

If Mr. Hollande allows the Parliament to vote too soon on striking Syria, observers concur, it is unclear he would get a majority yes vote. This would reflect that terribly dangerous thing called public opinion like in Britain, which dropped out of any U.S.-led military coalition against Syria due to parliamentary opposition fueled by public opinion.

Hollande-SyriaUnder France’s constitution, Mr. Hollande as president has “eminent domain” authority to take military action without seeking approval from lawmakers. This power is however limited by Article 35 of the French constitution as set by the Fifth Republic – which started in 1958. Hollande’s eminent domain war powers allow him to declare war, but he has to inform parliament of any further military plans within three days of the French attack. Ironically therefore, things would have run much better for Mr Hollande if US-led strikes had started the weekend of Aug 31-Sept 1. That timetable would have given Mr. Hollande plenty of room to firstly act, and then deflect parliamentary scrutiny because hostilities were already under way. Parliamentary support would also have been almost automatic and total.


Mr. Obama’s surprise decision to pull back has delayed any strikes until after Congress returns on September 9th, leaving US government-friendly media to work the theme of “Obama racing to marshal support from wavering lawmakers”. In France however Mr. Hollande is in a political bind. Opposition lawmakers lost no time calling on him to follow Mr. Obama’s example.

Probably lulled by the Bush years of War on Terror and Obama’s drone war in flagrant defiance of international law, the French political elite felt they could count on Cowboy America to launch military strikes against any smaller, relatively under-armed nation, anywhere on earth. The role of loyal French poodle yapping and skipping alongside the American pit bull terrier seemed assured, to them.

French opposition leaders described a parliamentary vote as the best way to “lend legitimacy” to military strikes without a legal mandate from the UN Security Council – which will not come because of Russian and Chinese hostility to “regime change adventure” in the Arab world, reinforced by Libya’s slide into Islamic warlordism and anarchy. Russia, a key ally of the Assad regime, has blocked the U.N. from passing any resolution that might clear the way for military action against the regime, and will almost certainly replace lost military assets due to any Western strikes – if not SS300 missiles.

Mr. Hollande seized on a joint news conference with German President Joachim Gauck, visiting France to make a joint visit with Hollande to the Nazi 1944 wartime atrocity site of Oradour-sur-Glane, to try cobbling a media-friendly link between Nazi atrocities, and Syrian regime atrocities. Hollande said : “When chemical massacres occur…there must be a response”, forgetting that Germany’s Nazis simply machine gunned and burned 640 French villagers to death in the church of Oradour, the exact same way Islamic djihadis attack and burn churches in Christian majority villages of Syria – after machine gunning their victims to death. No difference.

Mr. Hollande is apparently anxious to help the Islamic jihadis in Syria – after all Saudi Arabian petrodollars flow into the most exquisite real estate luxury hotels in Paris, while Qatari gas dollars buy and run the de luxe Paris St Germain footie team. French taboos on avidly sucking petrodollars, as we can see, are not too powerful but France’s supine and hypocritical rush to war in Syria will haunt the country – soon.

READ MORE FROM THIS AUTHOR AT: 21st Century Wire McKillop Files



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