This article for Fair Observer by Peter Isackson dated 7th December highlights the lengths that Emmanuel Macron will go to enhance his image as a world statesman ahead of the Presidential election in 2022, by dropping in on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to celebrate the conclusion of a massive sale of French military equipment to Saudi Arabia’s neighbor and co-sponsor of the war in Yemen, the UAE.
The price tag of €17 billion ($19.1 billion) means that Dassault Aviation, which exists to supply France itself, has for the first time sold more equipment to six foreign countries than to the French armed forces. Macron may think of it as an act designed to spread the lethal wealth, making the world a more equitable place — at least as far as lethality is concerned.
Some human rights organizations in France that have taken the time over the past six years to notice what Mohammed bin Salman was up to in his chosen approach to the use of lethal weapons (which include bone saws for use in Saudi consulates) dared to criticize the encounter. Unfazed by the reproach, Macron had the perfect reply, quoted by Le Monde: “What’s good for French women and men, I will ardently defend.”
Anything Macron ardently defends is by definition part of France’s defense policy. In the land of “liberté, égalité, fraternité,” the “liberty” of French women and men to earn their salaries by producing lethal weapons is fundamental. It sustains the liberty of their bosses and politicians — skilled at what could be called diplomatic marketing — to sell those weapons to despotic regimes across the globe.
This, in turn, promotes the “equality” (of class) and the “fraternity” (of culture) shared by wealthy business leaders, successful French politicians, bankers and foreign despots. As Voltaire’s Pangloss would say, “all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.”
Unlike US President Joe Biden, who, bullied by moralists at home, refuses to talk to the Saudi crown prince, treating him as an international pariah, Macron has earned Mohammed bin Salman’s undying respect. And he has done so in the name of what’s good for the French people.
He is of course riffing on the old chestnut, “what’s good for General Motors is good for the United States,” but he has the good sense to associate it with democracy rather than the corporate oligarchy Americans have adopted as their form of democracy. The US is, after all, the land in which “corporations are people.”
Le Monde appears to accept as a fatality Macron’s logic that focuses on “jobs created in France by this unprecedented purchase order.” By the same token, when Adolf Hitler took the unprecedented initiative of launching Auschwitz or George W. Bush building the Guantanamo prison, they were creating jobs.
Neither does the French journal critique Macron’s claim that it is all about their common commitment to fight terrorism, a pretext that over the past two decades has served to legitimatize ever brutally authoritarian policy of both liberal democracies and the world’s worst tyrants.
The fact that Saudi Arabia has consistently encouraged terrorism and appears, at some level, to have facilitated the 9/11 attacks, doesn’t seem to bother Macron. After all, tyrants with stable governments have the same need as liberal democracies to ensure their security against malcontents tempted by terrorism.
Macron has another argument to explain his intent to develop good relations with Mohammed bin Salman, when he claims that “one might decide, following the Khashoggi affair, not to have any policy in the region … but I believe that France has a role to play. It doesn’t mean we’re complacent or that we are willing to forget. It means we must be a demanding partner, but we must keep the dialogue open and remain engaged.” What France is “demanding” can be measured in billions of euros.
Just to bring home the point that cynicism trumps moral scruples, Macron insists that the current standoff between Mohammed bin Salman and Joe Biden could be “good for” France (creating “favorable opportunities”). If the Biden administration finds itself obliged to demonstrate a new-found sense of moral sensibility after four years of Donald Trump’s brazenly naked cynicism, that provides a pragmatically cynical European country with a significant occasion to exploit.
For the full article in pdf, please click here:
Getty Images – Emmanuel Macron with Mohammed bin Salman