Mistral at a loss

Kindly translated by Anne-Marie de Grazia


The French President has just decided to « suspend » the delivery to Russia of the first Mistral boat, which was scheduled for November 2014. This decision is a very example of the incompetence and silliness which has been characterizing French foreign policy for several years now. It’s a silly decision for, if the purpose was to conciliate the NATO countries and the US, it should have been taken two months ago. It’s a silly decision because it can only provoke the ire of Russia who sees this turn-about of the French position occurring right at the moment when there is talk of a cease-fire occurring in Ukraine. With this decision, François Hollande is in fact putting France offside in a possible settlement of the Ukrainian crisis, at the very moment when a political decision is vital. He contributes to aggravate the situation and implicitly vindicates all the fire-blasters loitering around from Brussels to Warsaw.

But this decision is not only a proof of incompetence. By pronouncing a “suspension” of the delivery, François Hollande purports to play on the ambiguity of a term which does not mean the cancellation of the contract. If he thinks that Russia and the United States are going to be duped by such a trick of language he’s badly mistaken. One does not lead the foreign policy of a country like France the way one leads the Socialist Party, which was the only responsibility of a national scope in François Hollande’s career before he was elected President of the Republic. Believing himself to be clever, but being in truth of a calamitous clumsiness, he is sending to all our allies the most detestable of messages, the one of an unprincipled, blind conformism, of a pathological indecision, of an incapacity to decide and to hold by one’s decision.

This decision is also a catastrophe for French industry. Who will forthwith trust France’s word ? The possible consequences of this « suspension, » should it turn out in reality to be a cancellation, would go well beyond the billion euros which have been paid and which we would have to give back, without counting the penalties for breach of contract. By his silliness, François Hollande has just dealt a harsh blow to French industry. The shipyard workers will appreciate, as will all the wage-earners who are presently working on contracts in Russia and who might see in the close future their contracts cancelled in repraisals.

There is finally a last dimension in this sorry affair which bears witness to the kind of man François Hollande is, or rather is not. It will be said that by this decision he bought himself peace at a cheap price in view of the reunion of NATO which is going to take place to-morrow and where he would have been put in the hot seat by Obama and some others. One hardly dares imagine what would have been the reaction of General de Gaulle, or even of François Mitterrand in such a situation. But, more than anything, this personal “peace,” bought at the price of thousands of workers’ jobs, only goes to sadly corroborate the book which has just been published by Valérie Trierweiler, the President’s dismissed former mistress. Confirming that he is a man of puny calculations, but also having a great scorn for all those whom he describes as «the toothless, » all the poor who are paying the price for his policies. The French may well not forget it and not forgive it.


Jacques Sapir

Ses travaux de chercheur se sont orientés dans trois dimensions, l’étude de l’économie russe et de la transition, l’analyse des crises financières et des recherches théoriques sur les institutions économiques et les interactions entre les comportements individuels. Il a poursuivi ses recherches à partir de 2000 sur les interactions entre les régimes de change, la structuration des systèmes financiers et les instabilités macroéconomiques. Depuis 2007 il s'est impliqué dans l’analyse de la crise financière actuelle, et en particulier dans la crise de la zone Euro.

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