Le Figaro, July 29, 2016
Translated from French by Tom Winter September 8, 2016
Figarovox/big interview — after the misfired coup d’Etat in Turkey, Erdogan is making overtures to Putin while Moscow and Washington seem to have found some equilibrium in Syria. For General Pinatel, the European countries should pay attention to this new state of affairs.
General (2S) Jean-Bernard Pinatel is an expert in geostrategy and in economic intelligence. He keeps the blog Géopolitique – Géostratégie. He is also the author of numerous works, including Carnets de guerres et de crises [Notebooks of war and crises] Editions Lavauzelle, 2014.
FIGAROVOX. – Recep Erdogan is headed to meet Vladimir Putin in August in the Russian capital. Turkey is historically the southernmost base of the Atlantic Alliance. To what extent could the new alliance between Moscow and Ankara upset NATO?
Général (2S) PINATEL. – NATO is an alliance that rose out the the Cold War between the USSR and the democratic West. Keeping it up and extending it into the former countries of the Commonwealth stems from the intent of the US to maintain the gaping chasm between Europe and Russia. In effect, if Europe and Russia were allied, they would challenge the world hegemony that they acquired in 1990 in the collapse of the Soviet Union, and that they want to keep at any cost.
But the Islamic menace has changed the given circumstances. This threat, already there for Russia since the 90s, extended into Europe in June 2014 with the proclamation of the Califat by the Iraqi Al Baghdadi, then more recently in Turkey when Erdogan had to close the frontier to Daesh after the attacks in France and the pressure the Americans had to put on Ankara so as not to lose the support of European opinion.
If Europe and Russia were allied, they would challenge the US World hegemony
In this context of murderous terror attacks, the destabilization of the Syrian regime and its replacement by a regime more favorable to American, European, Saudi, and Qatari interests drops to priority number two, in view of the urgency of overcoming the new Califat that threatens the Middle East and favors the rise to power of nationalist, anti-Atlantist parties in Europe.
Further, the massive and victorious intervention of Russia in September 2015 to support its Syrian ally contrasts starkly with the hesitant double-game of the United States which is trying to run the whole world. They thus condemn themselves to a feeble efficiency that, in the end, disturbs their traditional allies and pushes them to keep house with Russia.
Finally the bonds and the economic stakes between Russia and Turkey are very important, the historic geopolitical rivalry notwithstanding.
“a startling demonstration in the eyes of the French and the Europeans that NATO is good for nothing in the face of the Islamic threat”
More than the recent rapprochement between Moscow and Ankara, what really makes the alliance fragile is the chain of recent events. They make a startling demonstration in the eyes of the French and the Europeans that NATO is good for nothing in the face of the Islamic threat. It contrasts with the efficient warfare that Russia is conducting against the Islamic state, which is making more and more French –both people and politicians — realize that Russia is our best ally. And this realization, bitterly acquired with our 234 dead and 671 wounded since 2012, ought not just disturb NATO, but should lead to its disappearance or to its complete europeanization, because keeping it in its present status does not serve any interests except the interests that are not the interests of France.
[For Part Two, click.]