The Current Biggest Threat to Classic Western Liberalism and NATO Is in France

Imagine a president who is openly pro-Putin and seems to yearn for a government structured more like Russia’s than the current democratic system that goes back centuries. The president has shocked the public with xenophobic statements that belie an uncertain and dangerous future for the many new immigrants. This same president harbors such nativism and extreme populism that the country is the biggest current threat to destabilize NATO and do it as Putin asserts Russia’s right to invade neighboring countries he considers as historically subject to Russian control. That president has gone so far as to be somewhat sympathetic to the Russian cause while Russia slaughters Ukrainians.

We are talking about DonaldTrump, right? Nope. France’s Marie Le Pen who is not yet president but may soon be.

Were that not enough, This was before Putin fanned the flames of an already present nationalism and resentment toward immigrants in several nations, whether beginning with Brexit, Trump’s shocking victory, or the potential victory of the most openly racist populist to be elected to an original NATO member since its founding.

Politico has a report this morning that emphasizes the White House’s growing concern that Le Pen’s sudden rise in the polls is a serious threat to Emannuel Macron. Just as the world watched Trump get too close to Hillary – while still believing it impossible for a Western nation to elect someone so unqualified and unserious, only to awake one day to the impossible, Le Pen is scaring the White House.

Other than Angela Merkel, Macron was the most invaluable cog in keeping NATO together while Trump was president and played a significant role in Biden’s greatest feat as president, harnessing NATO as a unified front again, despite lingering distrust of the American public. If Le Pen wins, all bets are off, and her nation happens to be located in and among countries with a much more recent history of uncontrolled nationalism and all the horrors that can result.

According to Politico:

Senior U.S. officials have warily watched across the Atlantic for any signs of possible Russian interference in the first round of the elections, which will take place Sunday. Polls suggest that Macron and Le Pen would likely then advance to a showdown on April 24 — and that the potential two-person race would be close.

Le Pen, in her third attempt at the presidency, has surged over the past couple of weeks, as she has toned down some of her notoriously incendiary rhetoric to focus on cost-of-living issues. Millions in France are struggling to make ends meet after a 35 percent surge in gas prices over the past year.

Possible Russian involvement in a nation that is upset about the cost of living, gas prices, and a person running who is ready and willing to lay the blame on a group of people who are already under attack, already marginalized? It’s their fault? Sounds all too familiar:

Though Le Pen styles herself a benign populist, her campaign platform on immigration and Islam are still radical, with plans to ban the veil from all public places and stop foreigners from enjoying the same rights as French citizens. Her surname, in certain circles, is synonymous with racism and xenophobia — she now fronts the far-right, anti-immigration party her father founded. And she has been an unabashed admirer of Putin, whom she met in Moscow in 2017. Though she has somewhat distanced herself from the Russian president since the invasion of Ukraine, she has spoken sympathetically of Putin’s rationale for war and rejected some of the Western coalition’s hard-line measures against Russia.

She is Trump, only of a different gender, less narcissistic, better educated, understands the world, her government, and international diplomacy, and would be a far more effective leader, less a joke, more a terror.

True, France doesn’t have the world’s largest military or economy, nor does it have a history of directly involving itself in global affairs – nation-building. But as said, she can effectively destroy NATO as a united front against Russia. And perhaps more dangerously, France could be seen as an example to other growing populist movements in various other European countries. Hungary is already led by a Putin apologist who would crave dictatorial powers. But France  is much more powerful than Hungary. France would be more influential throughout NATO (and the G7) and much more terrifying as a nation trying to follow Putin’s lead.

We would do well to watch what happens in France later this month because France might not only follow our lead when we elected Trump but also set an example for us to follow in 2024, by which time populism may be seen as a needed counter to immigration, the most direct means to a stronger nation, one that doesn’t need such binding alliances because strength is more important than stability, one that declares it will put itself first in all situations.

History teaches us that when these movements take hold in a number of nations, the tipping point to war is not far behind. As we’ve seen.

Le Pen is a threat to the west
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