“Les Français sont comme les chihuahuas” (#Snowden)

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By Andrew Dittmer, who recently finished his PhD in mathematics at Harvard and is currently continuing work on his thesis topic. He also taught mathematics at a local elementary school. Andrew enjoys explaining the recent history of the financial sector to a popular audience

Evo Morales, president of Bolivia, was denied travel over France, Spain, Portugal, and (purportedly also) Italy, and then forced to land in Vienna, in response to suspicions that Edward Snowden was being sheltered on the plane. France’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Laurent Fabius, expressed his “regrets” over the “accident,” citing “delays in the confirmation of flight authorization over [French] territory for President [Morales’] plane.”

The title of this article is excerpted from this rather typical reaction of a subscriber to the French newspaper Le Monde:

It looked like France was indignant about Snowden’s revelations. But they act like the lackeys of the U.S. once they have an opportunity. The French are like chihuahuas. They yap loudly but they don’t bite!!!

Although the incident occurred several days ago, the responses among French readers were so extraordinary that they merit further attention. For many, the incident represented an unmistakable turning point:

There is a certain concept of the world that is disappearing definitively.

And so I have selected a representative sample of these responses, both from Le Figaro (center right) and Le Monde (center left), and formed them into a conversation:


– So that’s Hollande’s excuse? They didn’t know it was Morales’ plane! They really take us for imbeciles.

– Our President has even declared on television that he didn’t know if there were one or two airplanes […]

– Regrets?! Who is going to buy that???

– His “regrets” only matter to those who believe that they’re real.

– If the [governing] Socialist Party is Washington’s doggy, he might as well just say it. Should we get ourselves ready to lick Obama’s hand? Bravo, Hollande. Bravo.

– It’s clear that not only do the Americans listen to what the French are saying, the French also listen to what the Americans tell them to do, like blocking Morales’ flight path.

– What Hollande is saying sounds very much like a straight-up lie.

– M. Hollande: “As soon as I knew that it was the Bolivian president’s plane, I immediately authorized its flying over [French territory].” A little reminder, the airplane was stuck in Vienna for 13 hours! It is absolutely necessary to buy M. Hollande a cell phone and stop using messenger pigeons […] What does [he] take us for?

– Who is he making into a joke, anyway? People who believed in him and voted for him and who are discovering today how low he has fallen. It’s pathetic.

Consequences for French Politics

– Obviously France is a subordinate nation and its President Hollande has no balls.

– All the Americans have to do is snap their fingers and he lies down.

– The Americans must have discovered something tremendous about Hollande if he gets on his belly like that before them.

– I’m a socialist and I am really, really disillusioned !!!!

– The PS [Socialist Party] and Hollande would do that?! I’m hurt by… not by France. I’m hurt by the PS. They shouldn’t do that! Let Sarko or some other jerk do that. But not the PS!! Bootlickers! When you don’t have pride in your own ideas, you are nobody. They protest at being spied on but then they give in! I am VERY disillusioned!

– Personally, I expected nothing out of Hollande… and thinking things over, I believe I have received even less than nothing.

– Tony Blair was Bush’s poodle, does our “socialist” president aspire to becoming Obama’s? Is France, home of the Rights of Man, worthy of such behavior?

– Daddy [Hollande] dances around with mommy Merkel who has no more depth than he, and [then] bows his head before “Yes We Can” […]

– Everybody’s ready to pound their fist on the table against the American spying, and on the other hand, when it comes time to submit, everybody’s ready to do that, too… What a disgrace for France.

– Our status as a vassal is almost worse than that of the Eastern European countries relative to the USSR. They were under military occupation. For Hollande, the servility is in his head.

– Hollande is a socialist. He claims to be a defender of freedoms and of the oppressed. And he just acted like Washington’s rug.

– I can no longer discern anything socialist in this gang of social climbers. […] This head of the government deserves to be on trial for high treason […]

– The little clique of social-traitors [wordplay on social-democrats] in power besmirches the tradition of France as a land of welcome. They’re a band of diplomatic eunuchs! What a disgrace…

– Hollande had plenty of chances, he wasted them all.

– Hollande: the man who has failed in his rendez-vous with history.

– Excuses are not enough to remedy this offense to President Evo Morales. It would be appropriate to require the Minister of Foreign Affairs [Laurent Fabius] to resign.

– It’s pretty obvious that Fabius is taking orders from the U.S…. and if Snowden had been in the plane, would France have turned over this idealistic and courageous young man over to Obama’s police?

– If Hollande isn’t responsible, he should exercise his authority and punish [his subordinates]. If he’s responsible… he should leave. This act is an insult of all of Latin America and it tarnishes the image of our country.

– But the problem is, I’m worried that they [Hollande and Fabius] could care less about France. What they want is power.

– Hollande, resign! Go to the U.S., given that you’re their servant! I’m ashamed of my country.

– Next everyone will be astonished that the extreme right is attracting more and more supporters.

– I voted for the socialists. It will probably have been the last time since I don’t see much of a difference between Nicolas [Sarkozy] and this guy on anything.

– To think that I’ve always defended Hollande against wind and tides, even when my wallet suffered as a result. But this is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. A French socialist that is the United States’ poodle, who would have thought!

– […] I believe France has finally understood that after deceiving itself the first time by choosing Nicolas Sarkozy, it deceived itself a second time by electing François Hollande; the goal is not to choose the worst of the French, but the best […]

– As for me, it’s over. O. V. E. R.

– Never again will I vote for Hollande, a reactionary who turns himself into America’s rug. No matter what the cost.


– In the space of a few minutes, France has lost all of the interest and sympathy that many countries in South America felt for her. It will take decades to win them back, given that a monstrous incident of these dimensions is not forgotten.

– The U.S. acts like a thug, and we pamper it. Bolivia, more polite and not spying on us, gets treated the way we treat criminals.

– Bolivia doesn’t deserve this – it’s one of the poorest countries in South America, and its people are charming, full of hospitality, and friendly to the French.

– If any Bolivians are reading this – we are horrified by what just happened.

– All of our apologies, Monsieur Morales.

– Long live Bolivia. Shame on Europe that protects the American looters and tries to attack those who want to protect it from spying.

– Solidarity with the Andean peoples!

– Please, Bolivians, forgive our wretched government!

– Did this happen because Evo Morales is an Indian?

– I hope that this incident will have consequences and that the insult to the Bolivians will be paid dearly! It is worthy of the worst banana republic imaginable!

– The Bolivian president is completely right to be outraged; putting myself in his place, I’m outraged, too […]

– Maybe he should count himself lucky. What if France had received orders from the U.S. to send Rafales [fighter planes] to destroy his aircraft?

– Isn’t it nice [of Hollande] to say he’s sorry? I scarcely dare imagine [what would happen] if François Hollande had been stuck on a flight and forced to sleep in a hotel because of a decision of the Bolivian state.

– Why doesn’t Hollande entertain himself by doing the same thing to a plane transporting Putin? If he has the courage…

– [in response to pictures showing the French flag burned in Bolivia] It is shameful to see France cast down, the flag burned – and justly – by a foreign country.

– HOLLANDE made it legitimate for a Bolivian with any self-respect to burn the French flag. I will never forgive that effete reactionary for this crime.

– It is appropriate for the Bolivians to react like this!
If I were the Bolivian President, I would demand for my ambassador in France to return to Bolivia!
If I were the Bolivian President, I would immediately send the French ambassador back to his own country!
If I were the Bolivian President, I would break every relationship with all of these boot-waxers in the pay of the Americans.
If I were the Bolivian President, I would grant Snowden political asylum without hesitation. It’s a question of honor.

– [in a center-right newspaper] One should read the reactions of our friends on the Left […] seeing the incompetence of their president taking orders from the U.S. […] Take comfort, Monsieur Morales, this president [Hollande] doesn’t stand for very many people in France.

The Place of France and Europe in the World

– How is it possible that four European countries clowned around in such a dramatic, pathetic, shameful way? Europe didn’t say anything when it was flown over by American airplanes carrying prisoners off to be tortured in countries that it considered as “friends.”

– Some questions: Did France become this week a new state in the U.S.A.? Did Hollande become the new governor of this state? Is he under the authority of Obama and his administration?

– What little dogs we have become! Freedom and independence of sovereign states no longer exist outside of South America or what? [France is the] “Land of the Rights of Man” yeah rrrright… [… no, it’s] a vassal country that doesn’t even have ambition.

– It was already clear that, after the Iraq war and Monsieur Tony Blair, England had become a protectorate of the United States. Too bad for them. But I supposed, naively perhaps, that Europe was still made out of countries worthy of that name.

– It was evident that France was in a subordinate position vis-à-vis the U.S.A., but with this insult towards another country, it has shown that it is its forearm in Europe.

– The General [de Gaulle] must be jumping within his tomb!

– The Rights of Man???? Well, I guess it’s true that we’re trying to buy drones from them…

– There’s nothing surprising in seeing European governments following [American] orders – the European Union was created by Schuman and Monnet, two odd-job men of the Americans […]

– Our rapprochement to the U.S.A. is pulling us further and further downwards, we sink into mediocrity: from the financial/subprime crisis to the debacle in Afghanistan, from the flirting with Al-Qaeda in Syria to the crude behavior towards Morales, it’s all quite ugly.

– At least this incident has shattered the fiction of national sovereignty – the U.S. is the master of the world, and when it commands, the lackeys obey, in despite of all of their own rules. The U.S. will perhaps manage to get its hands on Snowden through its mafia-style methods, but it will lose its honor and credibility in the process.

– The whole atmosphere makes one think immediately of the worst moments of the Cold War, but the bear isn’t on the same side any more!

– Obama has revealed his true nature, and he has already lost much of his luster. He as well will not come out of this business with his stature increased.

– They [the Americans] are led by their paranoia to behave like actual enemies and Obama is no better than his predecessor. Oh crap, I’m going to get myself noticed by Prism, Echelon, and other liberty-killing filth!

Prism: Affirmative!

– The greatest contribution of this great Monsieur, Snowden, isn’t so much to have revealed the thuggish tactics of the U.S. empire […] – these were already known. No, it is above all to have demystified this gang of lackeys of the U.S. and of ultraliberalism who govern us, and these commissioners of the supposedly European instituion.

– All of this is indicative of a great solidarity [that they feel] for [those] spying on us.

– Voluntary servitude. That’s what we have, docile slash servile elites. And we elected them.

– The Master spies on us, strips us naked, and our only reaction is to display zeal in trying to please him… In psychoanalytic terms, it’s the syndrome of the consenting battered woman.

– There’s no point in trying to please the neoconservative bosses in Washington. The U.S. hyperpower doesn’t have friends, only vassals.

– The U.S.A. isn’t our ally. It is our master.

– This episode is in a final analysis trivial, because it reflects the true impact of this country upon the struggles of nations: Zero.

– The Americans can truly do what they want…

The Upcoming Trade Negotiations

– And that is promising for the [upcoming] negotiations on free trade…

– Now [Hollande] will go perform his little circus, threatening to break off his negotiations with the U.S.. As if we had a say in the matter!

– […] after a “simulation of indignation” [… one] then begins to negotiate with people who respect nothing and no one…

– The free trade accords reduce to eliminating all of our protections against GMOs, against the large firms that want to steal away public contracts and the systems of data collection. In short, they are an iron curtain around the U.S. colonies in order to guarantee their possession of their market.

– Why don’t we accept all of the American positions in the negotiation over a single market? Particularly let’s make sure that we are even more deluged by debased cultural products aimed at the mentally retarded.
That would be perfect!

– We could save a lot of money if we just let the U.S.A. write [the accords] on its own. All we would have to do is sign. Even better, we could give a stamp with the European signature to Obama and he could use it as he pleases.

Edward Snowden

– This episode confirms the great value of the information in Snowden’s hands, considering that sovereign European states are ready to fold to commands of the U.S. [in order to suppress that information.]

– We should definitely send to Guantanamo someone who has revealed the tactics of the NSA and forced HOLLANDE to “speak more vigorously” with our new Masters…

– The Snowden affair has shown that […] a gigantic web of surveillance is being put into place on a planetary scale, from which no citizen will be able to escape. […] M. Snowden should instead receive a Nobel Prize for the defense of freedom!

– France, or at least those who are its leaders and who are termed its elites, is upset with Snowden for having created a problem for them by telling them what they already knew and were pretending not to.

– [And so,] a young idealist who reveals to the world the cynicism of his own country is treated like a pariah by all of the consenting, servile victims.

– It was to be expected that the French would not have the balls to welcome Snowden. France has its own surveillance programs. But that it stops him from obtaining political asylum… Pathetic.

– We must save soldier Snowden. France should offer passport, asylum, and protection to Snowden the Freedom Fighter.

– Snowden in France? Do you want him to die?

– Not only should we have (and perhaps we still can) grant political asylum to Snowden, but we should decorate him with the Legion of Honor. Here is a man of courage! Monsieur Hollande, I voted for you but you could learn from his example, your indecision shames me.

The Curiously Quiet Reaction

– Imagine if a right-wing government had done this… There would have been demonstrations, the press would have found it scandalous…

– In France, there is radio silence…

– In the American media? Radio silence.

– Not a word on the subject on the 7-8 TV news on France 3 yesterday. As if it were a triviliaty.

– At 1pm on that day, France 2 consecrated 35 seconds to the Morales affair, obviously without mentioning Hollande’s role (the obligatory Soviet touch).

– I saw and noticed the same thing. Lies by omission: the way the mainstream media manipulates the news.

– The silence of the politicians on this topic is completely deafening. It adds shame to the shame.

– Thanks for having pointed out this cowardly silence that dishonors them. Only the Party of the Left of Mélenchon denounced this scandal this morning […]

– [in a center-right newspaper] No one on the Right is denouncing this incredible violation of individual freedom and this blow to the rights of man.

– The gulf between the treatment of this incident in the media and the reaction of individual citizens (for example the comments of the subscribers to Le Monde, or on the social networks) is extremely significant. The abyss between the “powerful” and the population becomes enormous, the gulf is just as big here as in Egypt, in Turkey, in Iran, or in Brazil.

– I have just finished reading the comments in der Spiegel, Zeit, Sueddeutsche, Figaro, Monde. Not a single comment favorable to our governments, none! For the first time, the European people seem to be speaking unanimously. Was such a disgrace really necessary in order for this to happen?

Discordant Voices, and Reactions to Them (actually, only about 99% of readers were critical of the government, but in the interest of balance..)

• It isn’t appropriate for French diplomacy to defend ideals, but rather the interests of France. Here it was clear – the GDP of Bolivia is half of that of Wyoming. In the process were international conventions about heads of state trampled on? Again, Bolivia has a GDP half as big as that of North Dakota. Calling [Morales] a “head of state” is exaggerating a bit.

– And honor and dignity, how is that measured in GDP?

– Your comment inspires deep contempt, equal to what you feel for small GDPs. Your theses are ignoble.

• No one will welcome, or help Snowden to flee, given that he is an employee of the CIA who turned and who has behaved like a traitor to his country.

– Traitor to his country! Easy enough to say, right in line for your petty Americanophile Atlantico-Guantanamism. Let’s hope that the listening ears follow your every indiscretion, that the camera explores your daily life, and that a large folder follows you from the CIA to the FBI detailing whatever minor faults you happen to commit!

• The CIA could care less about what I say, write, and think, and of any indiscretions I might commit… Meanwhile all of you keep saying “Shame, shame” and it’s comical […]

– […] I will remind you one more time of Lenin’s expression for Western intellectuals who supported Bolshevism: “useful idiots.” Our Western system has them too…

Real and Formal Democracy

– It is entirely clear that the legume-like people who claim to govern us have decided that we are neither sovereign nor independent. Without even going through the pretext of asking for our advice […] The strange defeat, wrote Marc Bloch a long time ago. [“The Strange Defeat” is a book about how the French defeat at the hands of the Nazis was first and foremost an intellectual defeat.]

– Here is a subject for a philosophical essay: […] When voting differently no longer changes the substance, but only the form of state politics, are we then still in a democracy? Is the people still master of its destiny, or is it only a spectator, regardless of its vote?

– I am sick of a “Democracy” in which, after the elections, it is necessary to endure all sorts of corruption without the citizens having the legal instruments to intervene and make corrections. […] LET’S CREATE A MOVEMENT ENLARGING OUR CIVIC RIGHTS!

– They have tried to sell us a pseudo – “clash of civilizations,” a clash between Islam and the West […] Now we can see where the real rift is, the States under domination on one side, their peoples on the other.

– The more we go forward the less I support this government, even though I voted for it in hope only one year ago. Perhaps the Egyptians are not wrong! They are rebelling for bread and freedom. We should pay attention to their example.

– I agree with you: the entire government needs to go up in smoke, and Hollande with it. Where are we heading with a team like this of sinister clowns?

– Against this president who uses hypocritical double language, killing freedom, against this Interior Minister on his knees before the U.S., I am ready to participate in Toulouse in any demonstration against this Left government that I voted for.

– I’m with you… In Toulouse or elsewhere…

– As with everything else, one imagines that this disgraceful, wretched incident shall be swept away, erased by the waves of the informational ocean that saturates our spirits. But something tells me it will remain in the memory of the peoples. Of the Bolivian people, without any doubt. And perhaps also of the French people, whose reputation has been so gravely tarnished by an unworthy government.

The two source articles:



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  1. Moneta

    Sprouting nationalism. When any random event can be seen as correlated to the cause.

    Maybe the Chihuahua will yap loud enough to generate a butterfly effect that can end up dislodging some 1%.

  2. Pas lolo

    Seems a good summary, even if moderate. I’ve read more outraged reactions.
    This gvt (Hollande) has finally done what it was installed for. Reconcialiate almost everybody from extreme-right to extreme-left. Some socialists (from the party, not leftists I mean) still tried to defend the decision (supposed to be a bug) but Hollande declarations at the end of the day killed all their PR.

    Just a precision. Le Figaro is not center Right but plain Rightwing.
    Le Monde is center Right (More or less backing the socialist Party), but more importantly pro-american on any matter. The only exception was the Iraq question in 2003 on which they were more mitigated.

    1. Andrew

      Your point of precision is helpful. FYI on the pro-American orientation of Le Monde, some commenters to this article were annoyed at how it seemed to make the story be about the official “regrets,” when “la vraie info c’est que la France a refusé son espace aérien au président Morales, lequel a été contraint de passer la nuit à Vienne tandis qu’on fouillait son avion, ce qui constitue un scandale inouï et sans précédent.”

      If you have run across more outraged reactions that are well written, by all means feel free to include a link.

      1. Pas lolo

        You may try this one :

        But, honestly, you can check any article from any french newspapers or blogs, you will find more or less the same thing 95-100% of Hollande bashing. The gvt and socialist Party PR is non existent or suicidal.
        For the reaction, is you put aside the astounding hypocrisy shown by Hollande in his adress to the US on monday, the main point is that everybody seems concerned about what remains of democray when we are on the verge of surrendering all what remains of our identity with this transatlatic trade agreement.
        The story has cooled by the end of the week, but only because the headlines were full of nice stories, firstly the firing of a female minister. Also a masterpiece from Hollande.
        They fired the lady because she said that the budget was only about austerity and then they began some kind of smear campaign about her incompetence and lack of leadership. Once again it backfired for the obvious reason that everybody understood that being a completely unfitted minister causes no problem, till you shut your mouth.
        The day later, she convoked a press conference to tell that the prime minister was a blatant liar ( she didn’t say for Hollande but…) and that she was the victim of industrial Lobbies Like Vallourec, the wife of its CEO being head of cabinet of the President of the republic. Total success, again.
        Then we had the Sarkozy tumble to spend a quiet week end.

        But it seems they want to start again.
        Today they announced that the lady responsible for the french airspace closure for a presidential airplane was the deputy to the head of cabinet of the prime minister.

        A new standing ovation…


    2. LucyLulu

      In today’s LeMonde, re: EU-US trade negotiations:

      “Au-delà de ces divergences, relève Camille Grand, directeur de la Fondation pour la recherche stratégique (FRS), les négociations interviennent dans un contexte où ” les Européens sont orphelins de l’Obama qu’ils avaient rêvé. Le président américain, qui séduisait par son discours sur le désarmement nucléaire et la fin de la guerre contre le terrorisme, porte désormais le bonnet d’âne de Big Brother. “

      For those who don’t read French, this is a quote from Director of Strategic Research about negotiations beginning in context of Europeans being “orphans” of Obama. Obama, having seduced them with his speeches on nuclear disarmament and the end to the war on terror, here on wears the asshat of Big Brother. (rough translation)

      When I last visited France 4 years ago, I found everybody enamored by Obama. He was the number one subject of conversation. Based on comments in LeMonde, I’ve seen the disillusionment among the people. The paper itself is a bit behind the curve but increasingly critical.

    3. Monera

      If he’s managed to bring everyone together so they can actually find their way, he’ll have accomplished a lot!

      That’s the problem with the US, 300M opinions and no cohesion.

      1. nonclassical

        …all it takes for “cohesion” is the individual, media, to follow the $$$$….to “City of London”, where 6 U.S. “investment banks” have buried 80% of nearly a quadrillion…(according to several sources in the know)…

  3. Eleanor

    I don’t read comment sections in American papers. The Times is behind a paywall, and the local papers do not moderate, which means they are home to far too many trolls. But the French comments sound angrier than Americans seem to be about anything.

      1. christine M.

        Yep! And when the French get really pissed, they riot. They’ve also been known to kick their president out… (remember that, Charles?) Hell, they’ve been known to behead their king and queen. Can’t underestimate that warm-blooded nation. They’ve had it with patsies of the US government. And even if the US, Britain and their own government are agitating for intervention in Syria, they want no part of it. Mali was for a good cause: that poor country only had toursim to fall back on as an economic resource. Humanitarian intervention. Syria? The French know damn well that, once again, it is about Israel’s interests first and foremost. The people don’t want any part of it.

  4. sufferinsuccotash, stupor mundi

    For some 40 years now, supposedly “Left” political parties in the West have played the role of Good Cop in a Good Cop-Bad Cop routine aimed mainly at voters sympathetic to leftist causes.
    “If you don’t go along with us you’ll have to deal with that really nasty guy who left the room after slapping hell out of you.”
    So what happens if the victim/voters stop playing the game?

    1. gonzomarx

      the bought left try to convince us that they can bring about “capitalism with a human face”

    2. nonclassical

      …ask Ross Perot…or, John Anderson….and of course Noam Chomsky…some of us voted for all 3….(and Cynthia)…

  5. ltr

    European governments have become less and less democratic, more and more rapacious and deceitful. I am astonished. Hollande is neither democratic nor honest, but evidently there is no shame among governing French Socialists. Spain, Portugal, Germany? What a tragedy these governments are.

    1. Dana

      The mistake is in imagining that ‘Western’ leaders have any real power / independence. Each of them is placed in office and is controlled by the financial industry’s near total, global clout.

      From the single most powerful financial entity in the world:

      JP Morgan to eurozone periphery: “Get rid of your pinko, anti-fascist constitutions”

      We Europeans need to think in totally revised terms with regard to our so-called ‘democratic’ ‘governments’.

      Elections, presidents, and representatives are all bought and paid for by special interests.

      In a sense, Hollande is doing the world a favor by demonstrating just how farcical European governments have become, while revealing the tyranical nature of the European Union.

      1. minh

        Doing a favor means an act performed out of good will, generosity, or mercy. Holland and other NATO leaders were forced to do a thing that they would not do under normal circumstances. If they’re forced to do by the US, they’re lackeys. If out of their own volition, why should they be so afraid of Snowden’s files ? That is the question.

        There’s a place in NY called Fresh Kills. Some people believe that in 1 million tons of the 9/11 debris some nanostructure is still there waiting for a trial of the criminals that started the wars of the 21th centuries. But they say some park is going to be built near the river, few hundred thousand ton of concrete can be slowly dump to the river. Again for the reference WTC1&2 was built from 200,000 tons of steel and 425,000 cubic yards of concrete which would weigh 380,000 ton to 600,000 ton. The last time the 9/11 victims’ families searching for the remains of their love ones were denied access to those debris.

        The observation from Mr. Beck comes in one paragraph of his affidavit, in which he states: “The W.T.C. debris that was sifted by our machines down to ¼-inch was known as fines. I observed the New York City Department of Sanitation taking these fines from the conveyor belts of our machines, loading it onto tractors, and using it to pave roads and fill in potholes, dips and ruts.”

  6. Daniel From Paris

    This is a very fine report of the French mood on this disastrous move. Could not agree more…

    Chirac would have been smarter. Mitterand would have run this as Metternich.

    Plain stupid on all accounts including, and even more so, for the many French who are “americanophile”.

  7. Ignacio

    This affair is very telling. How the world has changed to worse during the last two decades!. It’s depressing. Western democracies have turned into oligarchies that still want to look like democracies, but each new year find it increasingly bothering. Very soon they will even stop pretending to be democratic. What about Human Rigths? They are well behind corporate rigths.

    1. wunsacon

      >> Western democracies have turned into oligarchies that still want to look like democracies.


    2. charles sereno

      “Very soon they will even stop pretending to be democratic.” (Ignacio)
      They have long ceased pretending to be “democratic” in a traditional sense. They simply co-opted the meaning of the term.

  8. Kurt Sperry

    My–in hindsight, shocking–naïveté has had another layer scorched off by the hot truth. In five short years I’ve gone from a more or less loyal Democrat and an admirer of Obama, to a disillusioned enemy of almost everything the president and party espouse and promote. Then, I have had to endure having my europhilic respect for Latin Europe, whom I imagined to be keeping the flame of social welfare and respect for labor alive against the howling winds of global corporate fascism, snuffed out by the realization that even the putative left there are nothing more than slightly different flavored agents for the global neoliberal war on common people and trembling cowering servile tools of blood drenched American imperialism.

    Is there nowhere North of the equator left populated by people who aren’t in shameful collaboration with our morally depraved, bullying empire? I see no remaing outposts of sanity, even the eurosocialists now lie exposed as cowardly frauds and unapologetic tools of American global corporate hegemony. How did we arrive at this terrible place?

  9. wunsacon

    France just recently “legalized” gay marriage. As in the US, I suspect it helps the country market itself as pro-freedom and improve recruitment/retention of gays into the military.

    Notice that “France” led the fight into Libya. Did they make that decision or did someone make it for them?

    1. LucyLulu

      Speaking of Libya……

      In an article on p.2 of today’s (9 July) LeMonde (p.2 is devoted to US trade talks), it was referenced that France needs to remember while negotiating the free trade agreement that their military depends on the US for the necessary intelligence to run missions like Libya and Mali.

  10. MaroonBulldog

    “Trust not for freedom to the Franks,
    They have a king who buys and sells,
    In native hearts and native ranks
    The only hope for freedom dwells”
    Lord Byron, “The Isles of Greece”

  11. Strangely Enough

    debased cultural products aimed at the mentally retarded.

    Sounds like someone has visited the U.S., or at least seen enough American TV.

  12. Brooklin Bridge

    The French are having a hard time (just like we are) realizing their government is made up of thin cardboard characters loosly stapled onto sticks and increasingly getting wet and soggy and droopy (which perfectly describes Hollande). The folks moving those sticks are not directly visible on either side of the happy hopping pool, but their little pretense is barely even that anymore.

    It’s particularly hard for France who won so many hard fought battles for worker’s rights, particularly for their civil servants, to come to grips with this, but in another generation or so, assuming the country still exists in any meaningful sense – which frankly is doubtful, they will fall in line with little memory beyond ceremony of what it was like to be a nation.

    1. Klassy!

      You have to admit that the public was much quicker sizing up Hollande than the US public has been with Obama.

      1. Moneta

        If France exited the Euro would it really suffer more than what is coming up?

        It seems to me that it is France that holds the trump card.

      2. Moneta

        Close to 80% of the French population votes unlike in the US where it is less than 50%.

        1. Anon Too

          Note: While final exact figures for 2012 are yet to be calculated, the Bipartisan Research Center has stated that turnout for 2012 was 57.5 percent of the eligible voters, which they claim was a decline from 2008. They estimate that as a percent of eligible voters, turn out was: 2000, 54.2%; in 2004 60.4%; 2008 62.3%; and 2012 57.5%.[3] These were the same figures as given by the Center for the Study of the American Electorate.[4](Wikipedia)

      3. Brooklin Bridge

        You have to admit that the public was much quicker sizing up Hollande than the US public has been with Obama. -Klassy

        Yes, but that misses the point. They are still – by in large – unaware that Holland or any other French president is now irrelevant; mere window dressing. It’s the people moving the stick he flops around on that count and the French, by in large, are too political to notice that. It’s similar to the US where the majority of folks are still wildy rooting for team D or team R as if they had an actual choice in the matter, only even more so in France with multiple parties and complicated mixes and alignments.

        The thing Snowden, Manning et al, and even Greenwald have not made clear (yet?) is just how rigged US and European political theatre is and by extension how irrelevant to where real power is being exercised.

  13. Dan Kervick

    Hollande: the man who has failed in his rendez-vous with history.

    Now they know how Americans feel.

  14. steelhead23

    The only way to modify U.S. behavior would be to discontinue all existing trade agreements and steal her intellectual property wantonly. Do otherwise and the U.S. would continue to treat you as chihuahuas. No doubt, this would be painful, one has to choose not to be a lapdog.

  15. Brooklin Bridge

    France is not a lap-dog of the US. It’s a medium sized corporate affiliate.

  16. Hugh

    We live in a world dominated by kleptocracies. Some of pointed out at the time of Hollande’s election that he was not going to be all that much different from Sarkozy. What we see in France and other European countries is just a replay of Bush and Obama, the Democrats and the Republicans. It is the kabuki of false choices.

    In a kleptocracy, there is a ruling over class of the rich, a servant or courtier class made up of the elites which serve the interests of the rich and aspire to join their ranks, and a class of serfs and rubes, you know the rest of us.

    What the French and all of us need to understand is that the Snowden affair shines a little light on to the underlying nature of these power arrangements. Many of the French cited here are upset by Hollande’s servility to Washington. This rather misses the point. They should be much more up in arms that Hollande is serving his class interests and those of the rich, not theirs, and he is doing so not just by denying French airspace to Morales’ plane, but in the spying programs the French government is running on its own citizens and others, in the economic policies adopted under Hollande, and in his ongoing support of the euro, that amazing mechanism for looting the 99%s of Europe in the name of Europe.

    1. Hugh

      Some of > Some have, oops!

      In the title, it is written “les français”. That should be “les Français”.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Yes, I should have caught that too. Andrew did have it right in an earlier draft and I used to read French and am still OK at it. But we were both rushing (him translating, me formatting) to get this done by the 7 AM daily e-mail cutoff.

        Fixed, thanks!

    2. Ulysses

      Yes, national politics now in the so-called “free world” is merely a kayfabe diversion from the real arrangement– where global financiers make all important decisions away from the public eye, to be rubber stamped by our “elected representatives.” The only issues on which “politicians” are allowed to debate and make policy are those that don’t affect the banksters’ bottom line, like school-prayer or same-sex marriage.

  17. nomoresoup

    it seems as though everything is unfortunately driven by dollars/trade/economics (total world neoliberal domination) with the US’s relentless intrusion into other countries operating systems at any and all levels. the US’s unmitigated arrogance in how it feels the world should kowtow to its will is breathtaking in its ham handed bullying.

    i have been thinking about how to approach this in the context of any country willing to accept Edward Snowden for asylum.

    Worldwide people find Edward Snowden to be beyond a hero and believe he has a right to political asylum. these people could vote with their feet on the ground via tourism with the asylum country. that country being the recipient of dollar/euro/yuan whatever which would flow into their economy to mitigate the blowback by the US. this to me is the most rational/radical way to approach the dollar/US hegemony.
    Worldwide internet comments of Mr. Snowdens predicament lead me to believe there would be an instant positive for this idea.

    the leviathan is pissed. for Mr. Snowden and others in its way this is shaping up to be a take no prisoners extravaganza.

    i am reaching out to people who can facilitate this as i do not do any social media stuff by choice.
    please help this idea go viral, citizens around the world let’s give this juggernaut a global cumeuppance.

    ecuador here i come….We All Live In a Yellow Submarine

  18. Ed

    People find it easy to get confused about French politics, because in France it is the left that is the relatively more pro-American of the two political factions. And its been that way throughout the history of the Fifth Republic.

  19. EmilianoZ

    I’ll just add that to comment on a Le Monde article you need to be a paying subscriber (the exception being the blogs section). A typical article has 3-4 comments. This one (which does not belong to the blogs section) has more than 400. It might be the record. It really hit a raw nerve. Since Le Monde started taking readers comments I cant remember such an outpouring of rage.

    Will it change anything? Not likely. The French may vote for the Sarko party, they’ll have more of the same.

    France is a spent force. They’re finished, kaput. We have to stop looking to them for anything other than food or expensive perfumes. They definitively dont deserve a full post. They barely deserve to figure in the daily links. Has Yves ever posted a link concerning Andorra or Lichenstein?

    I’m more upset at Germany. They’re the de facto leader of Europe. If they dont do anything about the spying thingy, nobody will.

    It would be a fascinating subject of comparative history to try to determine why France has declined to such a greater extent than say Germany or the UK.

    Zhou Enlai famously said that it was to early to tell if the French revolution were a success. Now we can. The revolution was France’s swan song, the last elan vital before the terminal decline. But it was worth it. The 19th century was glorious for France, or at least French art. The impressionists revolutionized painting. Writers like Flaubert or Proust will be hard to top.

    But the French got stuck there, in La Belle Epoque (which Hobsbawn calls the prolongation of the 19th century or something like that). They never wanted to enter the 20th century. Now it’s a 19th bourgeois century society lost in the 21th.

    Maybe France was effectively killed during WW1. It just didn’t come to a full stop because of inertial forces. Niall Ferguson has often argued that the best outcome for WW1 would have been a rapid victory of Germany. He may be right. After all, now, despite 2 terrible defeats, continental Europe in coming under Pax Germanica. Germany would have won WW1 within a few months (like in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870) if not for the intervention of the Brits. La perfide Albion may have killed France by saving her.

    I’ll end by addressing France like Beef addressed the Chinese: “Go back to sleep, my French friends. You’ve played your part in History and it was a glorious one. Nothing more can be asked of you. Go back to sleep, my friends, and have sweet dreams of La Belle Epoque!”

    1. washunate

      Interesting. I’d argue almost exactly the opposite – that France, Germany, and the UK are essentially in the same boat. All three have been long-time supporters of the US as the global face of Western imperialism or whatever you want to call it.

      To the extent there are minor differences, I’d say that France has retained the most distinction of the three from the US.


  20. Moneta

    Sorry but all Western countries are still in denial since many unpopular decisions have yet to be made.

    Therefore, I predict that we will oust a boatload of figureheads before we see any level of admiration because everyone is still clinging to the concept of free lunches.

    1. F. Beard

      many unpopular decisions have yet to be made. Moneta

      You sound like one of Paul Krugman’s VSP’s – Very Serious People – who seem to think cruelty is synonymous with economic wisdom. It isn’t.

  21. Hugh

    “everyone is still clinging to the concept of free lunches”

    I assume by “everyone” you mean the rich and elites.

    1. Ulysses

      Does anyone else remember that great Mark Twain story: “The Million Pound Banknote?” He demonstrates in the story just how easy it is for the rich (real or imagined) to con the rest of us into giving them free lunches without end.

    2. Monera

      Actually, the 99% thought their houses would make them rich and now they think the 1% will fix everything.

      1. Hugh

        The rich fix nothing. They create nothing. All the rich and elites do is loot the rest of us. What I want is the loot they have stolen returned so that we can build a fair and just society. Do you have a problem with that?

      2. Charles LeSeau

        I’m pretty sure only some fraction – whatever it is – of “the 99%” even own houses, and then only some fraction of that fraction was looking to profit from them. Might want to check that percentage a bit. I’m 99% and I rent, like so many many others around me that I know who do the same.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      That’s fine as long as you cite the source and link back. Thanks!

  22. allcoppedout

    I find it hard to believe there is anyone we can vote for not already positioned or compromised by the Shadows. We need radical constitutional change. The problem is secrecy and the expectation leadership needs it to function. No one who can survive our political parties can possibly be fit to lead.

  23. washunate

    This is a good reminder that the Western governments are all interlinked/interconnected at this stage.

    EMU doesn’t have a firewall around the Anglo-American system.

  24. OMF

    There is a certain concept of the world that is disappearing definitively.

    The offices and institutions of the world are staffed with boorish young men, with no respect for tradition, decorum, or any kind of professional decency. They worship balance sheets, linear models, and children’s platitudes. Having wreaked destruction upon everything they touch, they return home with unearned rewards, and crow to others like them at how well the world they have destroyed is working.

    The more of the old world they strip away, the wilder their howling becomes.

  25. alex morfesis

    lurking is so much fun sometimes…

    but these are all catholic countries…port/spain/ital/gual

    up until now I was not sure I have bought into this snowjob…i mean snowden story…

    revealing a not so secret secret that the chinese and russians were fully aware of…

    but the vatican and gladio…

    now that is an interesting concept…

    what did snowden really pull from the databases…

    I dont buy the notion he had access to current information but access to archives to use for projecting, and database and algorism testing, yes…and everyone has a past…including france, portugal, italy and spain…

    I dont see valerie jarrett pulling this one off…

    I think these european countries are more afraid of snowden than the white house…but why…

    what did they find out that he has pulled from archives…

    only time will tell…still not sure I buy this as anything other than a seeding…but…no way these europeans goose step in a chorus line just cause 1600 penn called…

    back to coal mines…

  26. Hugo Stiglitz

    Very encouraging to know that people, albeit people outside the US, are pissed off. They should be.
    A day is coming when the American shadow government and the oligarchy it protects will no longer be able to so easily push around other peoples.

    “– The Americans must have discovered something tremendous about Hollande if he gets on his belly like that before them.”

    Sadly, this is likely the case with US congress members and federal judges as well. I am certain that they push their agenda via blackmail of key people in the courts, DOJ, congress, etc. Otherwise, even given the level of corruption in the US, someone would have stood up to them after so many years, decades actually, of this mafia government. If this is not stopped, and completely stopped, the US and perhaps the world is utterly doomed I feel. These sociopaths might even realize what they are doing will end badly, for everyone, but they just can’t help themselves.
    If anything like rule of law and justice is asserted, by some miracle, then many of these people should be hanged.

  27. Kunst

    I give you the world’s true rogue nation: the United States of America.

    So many people around the world have said, “We like Americans, but we don’t like your government.” The September 11 attackers said, “Americans are responsible for their government.” If this is a democracy, we need to change the country’s direction and that means changing a fundamentally corrupt system.

  28. Expat

    The French, in direct contradiction to their self-aggrandizing marketing as a bastion of democracy, liberty, and human rights, has a long tradition of deeply secret intelligence and military communities.

    While many believe that the French Foreign Legion is a quaint, archaic institution whose last battle was at Fort Zinderneuf, the Legion is everywhere France has economic or political interests, killing, bombing, raping, and destroying tan and brown peoples the world over. France’s interventionism is second only to America’s.

    As for secret spying, the French practically invented it along with cryptography. Twenty-five years ago, when I worked for a major French corporation, we would receive transcripts of phone calls and copies of telexes from our foreign competitors. Obviously, this was not collected by some bizarre internal unit of the company but rather by the DGSE.

    France has always and will ever protect its rulers’ political and economic interests above and beyond any ideals. France is deeply hypocritical and cynical.

  29. Reyes Hogan

    Xi had said that “China and France are both great countries with a strong sense of independence,” adding that both nations would “actively promote … the democratisation of international relations”.

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