The recent nationalist developments in France, in the aftermath of multiple terror attacks, is easy to understand. What’s harder to grasp is the common defence of Marine Le Pen that suggests she’s actually an extreme leftist rather than a right-leaning wingnut, but frankly this does nothing to trivialise the Machiavellian worldview of her party.
The National Front have been a feature a French politics for decades, sometimes at the forefront, sometimes in the periphery, but always in the picture. The recent surge in support is a clear and direct response to the rise in terror attacks over the past couple years. This response is entirely unsurprising, but have no doubt that there is nothing ISIS would like more than a major european country electing a vehemently anti-islamic Government, intent on banning mosques, ostracising a substantial Islamic population and driving muslims out of Europe and towards the caliphate in swathes.
The cause of French vulnerability is unambiguous, these attacks are being carried out in the name of Islam and if you are struggling to come to terms with this then I must ask you the question: what would a jihadi have to say or do in order to convince you that they’re actually committing these atrocities in the name of their religion? Perhaps directly attributing their actions to their beliefs in a suicide note? Perhaps praying to Mecca in the moments leading up to the attack? Perhaps proudly announcing it to their victims while parading the flag of ISIS? Well all of this is happening ad nauseam. The combined frequency with which these declarations are made, and the innumerable recitations of violent quranic passages is a profoundly compelling display of Islamism rearing its ugly head as the preeminent agent of terror. The reason France has been so susceptible to these attacks is undeniably down to its unofficial status as a “grey zone”, a term that has even been used by ISIS themselves. The implication is that because of its 7.5% Muslim population there are vast numbers of potential jihadis in the eyes of ISIS and this has prompted them to focus their campaigns in these high muslim population areas. Their aim is to drive a wedge between the christian and muslim populations of France in order to unite muslims and increase global support for ISIS. As such, it is the duty of Europeans to recognise this ploy and, instead of playing into the hands of ISIS, collaborate with muslims to defeat the real enemy.
Now France has been offered a solution to the terror crisis, it just happens require wholesale political reform and the election of an openly bigoted Government, likely too high a price to pay when the results are so indeterminable. One factor which negates the potential damage of the National Front is in fact Marine Le Pen, who has dampened the attitudes of the party from a generation ago. This was best demonstrated in her decision to even remove her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, because his views were so extreme as to risk “turning the party into a caricature”. But for a party often dubbed the most far-right party in Europe since the Nazi’s, I struggle to see the moral wrongdoings in the same way that I see economic misunderstandings as their downfall. Weirdly, one of the most controversial moments of her campaign came in Lebanon when she refused to wear a headscarf to her meeting with Grand Mufti. This revelationary headline may as well have been inter changed with an editorial entitled “Water is Wet”. The main controversy surrounding the party is a quote from 1987 in which Jean-Marie Le Pen was undeniably guilty of holocaust minimalism. But to hear some of the criticism and analysis of the party today, you would think they were planning a holocaust of their own, when above all they are in pursuit of eradicating multi-culturalism through policy rather than systematic extermination. Media in the UK honestly purported Le Pen’s potential election to be tantamount to electing Adolf Hitler, when in reality her policies are not much different to Trump or Farage, insofar as she promises that slashing immigration will revitalise the working class. Though factually inaccurate, this isn’t as ethically reprehensible as some people are letting on. My biggest concern that this could escalate to a bloodier dispute is not centred on the merits of immigration, rather the stability that a centralised European Government managed to bring about in the aftermath of two world wars. I don’t believe Le Pen will single handedly bring about tumultuous internal divisions culminating in a civil war. My concern is that if France also choose to leave the European Union we could see tensions flare in Europe of a scope and scale that hasn’t existed since the1930’s.
The view that the EU has been diplomatically unprofitable is simply a non-sequitur. It has been hugely beneficial in preventing the outbreak of ruinous warfare. In the aftermath of the bloodiest wars in European history it ensured collaboration and investment among European member-states and whatever your views on the freedom of movement, it has played a substantial role in stifling emerging conflicts. Because of these simple facts, my concern for a hostile divorce of an imperfect but effective union is entirely justified and should be shared by anyone who recognises its ability to diminish the threat of nuclear proliferation and ensure the rights of European citizens. Thus, a French Eurosceptic copycat could well lead to, not just the downfall of the European Union, but the downfall of Europe as a whole.