How widespread is anti-Americanism in France

Macron and the Russian mediaRussian influence meets French anti-Americanism

Ursula Welter: There was a memorable scene at the Palace of Versailles earlier this week in France. The French President stood next to the Russian President Putin and said: "If the press organs disseminate dishonorable falsehoods, they are no longer journalists". Emmanuel Macron complained that the Russian media "RT" and "Sputnik" had manipulated the truth in the election campaign. A difficult moment for his guest in the hall, Vladimir Putin himself. Putin said yesterday, back at home in Moscow, that the Russian government was not using computer hackers to interfere in foreign election campaigns. Putin did not say what the situation was about the interference by press organs loyal to the Kremlin. At the beginning of this week, I spoke to the director of the Internet geopolitical magazine "Diploweb", Pierre Verluise, about the key scene in the Palace of Versailles and asked him why Macron saw himself openly criticizing the Russian media at the press conference.

Pierre Verluise: The French President answered a question from a Russian journalist. He did not raise the issue himself, but answered the journalist's question, who regretted that "Sputnik" had not been given access to Macron's election campaign. He responded to "Sputnik" and "RT", an offshoot of " Russia Today "to accuse Russia of being the media of influence that did not play by the rules of the game. In particular, they had circulated defamatory allegations about him. And he used that as a justification for the denial of access to "Sputnik" and "RT", while other Russian media would have had access to his election campaign.

Welter: It was rumored that Macron might have an offshore account and it was not least the Front National and Marine Le Pen who spread the rumor during the election campaign.

Loss: What bothers the president is that these media, "Sputnik" and "RT" in particular, are 100 percent financed by the Kremlin, i.e. media of the Russian state and by spreading rumors through targeted misinformation, especially on the subject of migration and questions of Mr. Macron's way of life tried to deliberately mislead the public. This is part of a Soviet tradition of undermining public opinion, where it is a matter of dividing the public of Europe, especially on issues of migration. One tries to create a distance to the European structure and also to the euro.

The Russian narrative in the French election campaign

Welter: Does that mean, Pierre Verluise, that you can also experience a Russian reading of politics in France?

Loss: Yes, absolutely. This applies to France as well as other countries. It is a Russian narrative - this explanatory model, as one could also say, claims to feel sympathy for a multipolar world order. A world that should not be dominated by the USA, but in which other powers, especially Russia, would also have a place. This model of explanation is very cleverly disseminated and is also well received in France, especially among the extreme right and left. This is partly explained by a legacy from France's anti-American decade, from 1958 to 1969, at the time of De Gaulle, when France turned against US hegemony. Such an idea of ​​a multipolar world can certainly be considered, why not. But if this narrative is to become an echo room for Russian propaganda, then that is something completely different.

Anti-American tradition in France

Welter: Because you mentioned anti-Americanism in France - can it be said that the Russian media are operating on old territory, so that this phenomenon is by no means new?

Loss: It is exactly like that. The Russian or the former Soviet influence in France is by no means new. Immediately after the Second World War, the French Communist Party, which was financed by the Soviet Union, had a share of the vote of about 25 percent. So it was a very powerful party. Gradually, after the end of the Soviet Union, the influence of the PCF declined considerably. After the fall of the Iron Curtain, communist credibility in France and other countries was further undermined. But Russia has meanwhile managed to find new points of contact, especially with the extreme right, the Front National, and also with the extreme left, the indomitable movement of Mélenchon. You have now found a baton.

A very interesting author who has been working on this anti-Americanism for a decade or two is Jean-François Revel, a philosopher, a journalist who, in addition to the Gaullism, which I have just discussed, cites another cause, namely the claim of France To be a representative of universal rights, a claim that for non-French people naturally appears to be contestable. And he said the US also supports this universalist claim, which can also be questioned by others. But there are two powers that each claim to be the great bearer of universal values. That's a lot for a single planet. But it also explains why parts of the French public so easily switch to anti-Americanism.

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