Imperialism and Satan are French, Not American

Imperialism and Satan are French, Not American

Hazem Saghieh |

With Francois Hollande’s visit to Israel, which did not try to tone down its warm welcome of the French president, and with the increasingly clear French tendency to be firm with Iran on the nuclear issue and desire to provide stronger ground support for the “moderate” Syrian opposition, Arab and Iranian rhetorical cannons set their crosshairs on France. Today, France is a strong candidate to replace the U.S. as the pre-eminent imperial power (in the leftist discourse) and as Great Satan (in the radical Shia Islamic discourse).

The task is easy enough to accomplish, and all it needs is a small visit to memory lane and another to the archive: Indeed, France is the power that colonized Algeria for a very long time and killed one million martyrs from its people, and had also imposed its custodial mandate on Syria and Lebanon, and participated in the British and Israeli attack on Egypt in 1956, in addition to giving Israel the nuclear bomb. And because after all this France still was not satisfied, it intervened in Mali only a few months ago, unaware that the era of colonialism has gone forever. In the meantime, praise for General Charles de Gaulle for his “honorable position” in 1967 is pulled from circulation, and so is praise for the commendable French attempts for differentiation from U.S. policies in the Middle East and the world.

By contrast, the United States has 'recently begun to understand,’ while its President Barack Obama was forced ‘to recognize reality.’ And understanding and being forced to be realistic humanizes the person in question, and thus he no longer remains the despicable Satan of yesteryear. Soon enough, an understanding with the United States led by Obama (the “slave” according to one pro-resistance poet) will become something that is “in the interests of the region and the world.” Here, too, pending a new development like the failure of the dialogue with Iran, recalling the tragedy of native Americans is also pulled from circulation, as are the wars of Johnson and Nixon in Vietnam and Cambodia, and Henry Kissinger’s plots in our countries and elsewhere, not to mention racism against African Americans. Is Barack Obama himself not an African American and the son of a Muslim father after all?

Truly, every situation demands a different discourse.

This is not a caricature of what is happening in the realm of some writing, public speaking, and television. It's what has really started to happen. And why not, as we shift, almost overnight, from an 'Arab nation' to an 'Arab and Islamic nation,’ without pausing at the difference that can be measured in the hundreds of millions between the two terms. Some of us are now even shifting to “pan-Levantism” that has as of yet completely unknown features.

But this reality, as is quoted in some discourses, is caricature incarnate. Some analysts believe today that France is only trying, with other European powers, to fill some of the vacuum left by America’s reduced commitments in the world. If true, then all that Francois Hollande is doing is literally responding to what we have called on France and Europe to do, decade after decade.

This is all not important. Between one day and the other, meanings and connotations can do an about face, according to others’ alignment “with us” or “against us,” that is, with Khamenei’s Iran and Assad’s Syria, or against them. This is happening to a political culture that has made a career out of attacking George W. Bush for saying once: You are either with us or against us.