The French center holds — In a collapsing world, by Patrick Buchanan
“Things are falling apart, the center can’t hold.”
So wrote William Butler Yeats after the Great War of 1914-1918 which had ravaged the Christian civilization he had known.
In France on Sunday, the center held firm, as President Emmanuel Macron won a landslide victory of 59% to 41% in the second round of elections against ethno-nationalist Marine Le Pen.
Four years ago, Le Pen had obtained 34% in the second round. And the highest vote his father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the National Front, ever obtained was 18%. While Marine Le Pen lost on Sunday, her positions continue to attract converts.
The European establishment was so terrified of Le Pen that ahead of Sunday’s election, leaders in Spain, Portugal and Germany intervened in French politics, imploring the French people to vote against her.
This second round is “for us, not an election like the others”, wrote in Le Monde German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
France is faced with a “choice between a democratic candidate (…) and a far-right candidate, who openly sides with those who attack our freedom and our democracy”.
More than 4 out of 10 French people voted for the candidate that European leaders had described as undemocratic.
On the first ballot, Le Pen, along with rabid leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon and hard-right Eric Zemmour, who placed third and fourth behind Le Pen, together secured 52%.
This is how three of the four best candidates for the presidency of France, and a majority of the French nation, showed their support for an idea that they all three shared: hostility to NATO.
In leading France for the next five years, Macron, himself a critic of American leadership and NATO, will have to keep this constituency in mind.
And Macron knows it. On his night of triumph, he conceded that many of those who voted for him were not motivated by an appreciation of what he had achieved, but by fear of Le Pen.
In Eastern Europe, however, changes could be on the horizon.
The mainstream media – Newsweek, the New York Post and the Daily Mail – are reporting rumours, based in part on recent videos of the Russian president, that Vladimir Putin may have cancer.
Moreover, the news that Sweden and Finland could join NATO as the 31st and 32nd members of the alliance has provoked a strong reaction from Moscow, which warns against a redeployment of nuclear weapons in the Baltic.
Again, have people thought about what it would mean to bring Finland, a nation the size of Germany with an 830-mile land border with Russia, into NATO?
With 4% of the Russian population, Finland would need NATO ground troops to man border bases and crossing points to that country, and some of those troops would probably have to be American.
They would look across that icy border directly at the Russians, like in East Berlin and the West during the Cold War era.
At a press conference last Friday, General Rustam Minnekayev said that Russia was seeking full control of all of southern Ukraine to give it “another way out into Transnistria” – the internationally recognized breakaway state part of Moldova.
Minnekayev accused Moldova of oppressing the Russian-speaking population of Transnistria, an echo of the claim used by the Kremlin to justify the invasion of Ukraine.
Was this weekend’s missile attack on Odessa an indicator of this Russian intent?
Putin’s ally in Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, who is in his sixth term after holding the top job for three decades, is now 68, and his last election victory in 2020 was almost universally seen as fraudulent .
Would Moscow, having lost Ukraine, stand still as Sweden and Finland cross the NATO threshold and agree to a neutrality for Belarus that would leave Russia without two of the three core components of its Russian Federation as allies ?
China’s largest city, Shanghai, is today in a Xi Jinping-ordered lockdown as China suddenly no longer seems the country that showed the world how to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic that started in Wuhan. .
President Joe Biden may be making trips to New Hampshire, but few believe he will run again in 2024, as manifestations of his cognitive decline seem more frequent and worrisome.
Yet we remember it.
Woodrow Wilson suffered a crippling stroke while on a national tour to sell the peace treaty and League of Nations he negotiated in Paris to the country and the Senate in 1919, but outlived his successor Warren Harding, died in office in 1923.
As Macron claimed his election victory, Ron Klain, Biden’s White House chief of staff, chuckled at the result.
“An interesting observation, just FYI,” Klain tweeted. “President Macron appears to have secured a double-digit victory over LePen, at a time when his approval rating is at 36%. Hmmm…”
If Macron can succeed, why not Biden, Klain is fighting here.
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of “Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.” To learn more about Patrick Buchanan and read articles by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.
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