Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Marine Le Pen Interview

This woman is absolutely phenomenal.

I admire her more than any other world leader short of Benjamin Netanyahu.

At Foreign Affairs, "France’s Next Revolution? A Conversation With Marine Le Pen":

As the youngest daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of the right-wing French political party the National Front, Marine Le Pen grew up in politics, starting to campaign with her father at 13. Trained as a lawyer, she won her first election in 1998, as a regional councilor, and in 2011, she succeeded her father as party leader. She soon distanced herself from his more extreme positions, and eventually—after he reiterated his claim that the Holocaust was a “detail” of history—she expelled him from its ranks. These days, in the wake of the European migrant crisis, the terrorist attacks in Paris and Nice, and the Brexit vote, Le Pen’s nationalist, Euroskeptical, anti-immigrant message is selling well. Recent polls show her as a leading candidate for the presidency in 2017, with respondents preferring her two to one over the Socialist incumbent, François Hollande. Le Pen spoke with Foreign Affairs’ deputy managing editor Stuart Reid in Paris in September.

Antiestablishment parties, including the National Front, are gaining ground across Europe. How come?

I believe that all people aspire to be free. For too long, the people of the countries in the European Union, and perhaps Americans as well, have had a sense that political leaders are not defending their interests but defending special interests instead. There is a form of revolt on the part of the people against a system that is no longer serving them but rather serving itself.

Are there common factors behind Donald Trump’s success in the United States and yours here in France?

Yes. I see particular commonalities in the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Both reject a system that appears to be very selfish, even egocentric, and that has set aside the people’s aspirations. I draw a parallel between the two, because they are both success stories. Even though Bernie Sanders didn’t win, his emergence wasn’t predicted. In many countries, there is this current of being attached to the nation and rejecting untamed globalization, which is seen as a form of totalitarianism. It’s being imposed at all costs, a war against everybody for the benefit of a few.

When asked recently who you supported in the U.S. election, you said, “Anyone but Hillary.” So do you support Trump?

I was quite clear: in my view, anyone would be better than Hillary Clinton. I aim to become president of the French Republic, so I am concerned exclusively with the interests of France. I cannot put myself in an American’s shoes and determine whether the domestic policies proposed by one or another candidate suit me. What interests me are the consequences of the political choices made by Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump for France’s situation, economically and in terms of security.

So I would note that Clinton supports TTIP [the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership]. Trump opposes it. I oppose it as well. I would also note that Clinton is a bringer of war in the world, leaving behind her Iraq, Libya, and Syria. This has had extremely destabilizing consequences for my country in terms of the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and the enormous waves of migration now overwhelming the European Union. Trump wants the United States to return to its natural state. Clinton pushes for the extraterritorial application of American law, which is an unacceptable weapon for people who wish to remain independent. All of this tells me that between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, it’s Donald Trump’s policies that are more favorable to France’s interests right now.

The unemployment rate in France now stands at around ten percent, the second highest among the G-7 members. What are the roots of France’s economic malaise, and what solutions do you propose?

These days, everyone is proposing the National Front’s solutions. We recorded a nice ideological victory when I heard [Arnaud] Montebourg [a former economy minister in Hollande’s Socialist government] pleading for “made in France,” which is one of the major pillars of the National Front.

The unemployment rate is much higher than that because there are a bunch of statistical shenanigans going on—involving internships, early retirement, part-time work—that keep a number of French from being counted in the unemployment statistics.

There are a number of reasons for [the high unemployment]. The first is completely free trade, which puts us in an unfair competition with countries that engage in social and environmental dumping, leaving us with no means of protecting ourselves and our strategic companies, unlike in the United States. And in terms of social dumping, the Posted Workers Directive [an EU directive on the free movement of labor] is bringing low-wage employees to France.

The second is the monetary dumping we suffer. The euro—the fact of not having our own money—puts us in an extremely difficult economic situation. The IMF has just said that the euro was overvalued by six percent in France and undervalued by 15 percent in Germany. That’s a gap of 21 percentage points with our main competitor in Europe.

It also has to do with the disappearance of a strategic state. Our very Gaullist state, which supported our industrial champions, has been totally abandoned. France is a country of engineers. It is a country of researchers. But it’s true that it is not a country of businesspeople. And so quite often in history, our big industrial champions were able to develop only thanks to the strategic state. In abandoning this, we are depriving ourselves of a very important lever for development.


Many credit the European Union for preserving the peace since World War II. Why are they wrong?

Because it’s not the European Union that has kept the peace; it’s the peace that has made the European Union possible. This argument has been rehashed repeatedly, and it makes no sense. Regardless, the peace hasn’t been perfect in the European Union, with Kosovo and Ukraine at its doorstep. It’s not so simple.

In fact, the European Union has progressively transformed itself into a sort of European Soviet Union that decides everything, that imposes its views, that shuts down the democratic process. You only have to hear [European Commission President Jean-Claude] Juncker, who said, “There can be no democratic choice against European treaties.” That formulation says everything. We didn’t fight to become a free and independent people during World War I and World War II so that we could no longer be free today just because some of our leaders made that decision for us.

What do you make of Germany’s leadership in recent years?

It was written into the creation of the euro. In reality, the euro is a currency created by Germany, for Germany. It’s a suit that fits only Germany. Gradually, [Chancellor Angela] Merkel sensed that she was the leader of the European Union. She imposed her views. She imposed them in economic matters, but she also imposed them by agreeing to welcome one million migrants to Germany, knowing very well that Germany would sort them out. It would keep the best and let the rest go to other countries in the European Union. There are no longer any internal borders between our countries, which is absolutely unacceptable. The model imposed by Merkel surely works for Germans, but it is killing Germany’s neighbors. I am the anti-Merkel.

What do you think of the state of relations between France and the United States, and what should they be?

Today, French leaders submit so easily to the demands of Merkel and Obama. France has forgotten to defend its interests, including its commercial and industrial ones, in the face of American demands. I am for independence. I am for a France that remains equidistant between the two great powers, Russia and the United States, being neither submissive nor hostile. I want us to once again become a leader for the nonaligned countries, as was said during the de Gaulle era. We have the right to defend our interests, just as the United States has the right to defend its interests, Germany has the right to defend its interests, and Russia has the right to defend its interests...
Still more.