A French General’s view of NATO

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January 14, 2017 – Fort Russ News –

– Sputnik France  Translated by Tom Winter –

“NATO aggressive to Russia. A French general attests”

[From March 14, 2014. Yes, more than two years old, but so insightful, that it is still worth putting into English today, and certainly worth the reading — tr.]

France is cheerfully attacking Russia along with NATO. The mission of this military structure has evolved since the Soviet era. We asked the General of the French Army Jean du Verdier for his analysis of the history of NATO which has just celebrated its 65th anniversary.

General Jean du Verdier: “Originally NATO was created as a military organization to deal with the Soviet threat. We were very scared at the time of an attack by the Soviet army. There was a phrase running all around the time: “The Soviet tanks are at a stage of the Tour de France in Strasbourg!” 

At that time we accepted the help of the Americans and there was an agreement in Lisbon: the Americans gave 600 million dollars to equip the French army at the time … And in exchange, they received some bases in France and a liaison between the Atlantic and Germany. That is where we were in the late 1950s! 

And at that moment General de Gaulle came in who was going to want to get out of the American grip. Because he could not accept that the mechanisms of NATO — which were automatic — could engage France in an unwanted war. So, from ’58, France was completely free of NATO. There were two attitudes at that time: it is too bad to split from the Americans who are at the forefront of progress; And the others believed that de Gaulle was right. For me personally, this disengagement of de Gaulle vis-à-vis the United States had unpleasant consequences because I was set to go to stay in the United States for a training course in the US. But it did not work out, which I regret!

At that time all the Americans had left France. We began by pulling French units, especially naval ones, out of NATO, and we got out step by step. … And we never accepted nuclear weapons on French soil! In the 60’s the withdrawal to was completed. Thus the French were in the Alliance but were no longer in the military system.”

The Voice of Russia: Has France fully accepted this return to NATO’s military disposition? 

General Jean du Verdier. “Personally, I was totally against this return to NATO! From the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall, there was no longer any need for NATO. It had lost its raison d’etre. This was a defensive organization for the countries of Western Europe and as soon as the Soviets dissolved the Warsaw Pact, Russia ceased to pose a threat to the Western peoples. 

Me and my comrades, we became completely anti-NATO. Because this organization had become an offensive one directed against Russia! 

The Voice of Russia: What is your appreciation of the current stage, sending warships, including French ones, into the Black Sea? 

General Jean du Verdier. “This stage is very aggressive vis-à-vis Russia, without understanding where this stage is coming from. The French are Russophile, but I think they are intoxicated by the media and they are suspicious vis-à-vis Vladimir Putin. I think that is the general trend.

I think NATO’s aggressiveness was revealed at the time of the Gulf War that France took part in. It was the first war against Iraq. But then, in 1995, at the time of the Second Gulf War, Chirac had a somewhat Gaullian reaction and did not follow along.

And then there was an absolutely unacceptable intervention in Kosovo. NATO may have a UN mission, but NATO was not created to serve as a policeman for the benefit of the UN. This Kosovo operation was planned to break Serbia, allied with the Russians too! Historically this country has always been in the Russian orbit. So it may have been done to restore order in Kosovo, but of course it was not even clear that there was disorder in Kosovo! But this was also done to weaken the positions of Russia in the Balkans. 

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The Voice of Russia: How do you see the policy of Sarkozy who was doing with one hand what he undid with the other with his integration in the military disposition of NATO and at the same time his sale of the Mistral to the Russians? What would he do if he returned to power? 

General Jean du Verdier: “I think that the return to NATO was almost imposed with our participation in operations like that of Kosovo. From the moment we were involved in NATO operations, we were already obliged to submit to US procedures and we could no longer get away from it. Sarkozy accepted Kosovo participation and by this very act he accepted reintegration in NATO! 

So why is NATO so hostile to Russia? This question, I have not resolved. NATO still wants to weaken Russia … But why? It is an element of balance in the present world and there is no point in weakening Russia! Russia is protecting us from the South East against immigration and all the Islamic threats that may come from that side! Russia is our natural ally! Why be anti-Russian?

I believe that there is a kind of memory of the Cold War that no longer exists today. This is ideological. Russia is very attached to its traditions and very attached to its religion since it became “Russia” again. And this does not appeal to Western ideologists today. One senses a stubbornness against Russia that is noted in the media. This is at the origin of the Crimean case, in particular. We interviewed people on the street who believed that the Russians in the Crimea were perfectly right. Only intellectuals such as BHL think otherwise. All the people I meet around me side with the Russians. What do we have to do in the Crimea, Ukraine and Georgia? It is NATO wanting to settle in Georgia, on the Russia’s south-eastern flank. 

The Voice of Russia: What is the future of NATO? 

General Jean du Verdier: “The economic ties between France and Russia are developing. France used to be the 20th exporter toRussia, and has become the third! There was also the Russian contract for building two “Mistrals.” One got the impression of movement in the direction of a rapprochement with Russia.

And now because of this Crimean affair the anti-Russians are in the process of damaging relations. But we still see that Europe basically did not follow the Americans. When Obama passed by, we made him a lot of bows, but we did not follow. The English and the French said yes with the lips, but they did not follow! And this is a NATO weakness.”

The Voice of Russia: What do you think of the possibility of creating a European armed forces without American involvement, on the basis of the Franco-German brigade?

General Jean du Verdier: “I think that would be quite desirable! But on the other hand, a decade ago NATO created an intervention force to intervene quickly on the theaters where the Americans wanted to do something … So here is what I say: I will be quite favorable to the development of a European force but it will still be equipped with American equipment. The Germans have American planes. Only the French have French planes! There will always be an addiction because we have never managed to get out of the grip of American industry. 

They did everything to block the development of the Rafales and to prevent us from becoming independent. The military transport aircraft is a European success but for combat aircraft it is American material!

In Ukraine they tried to line up the Ukrainians against Russia. They made them embrace membership in Europe; But we have no interest. Their economy is in such a situation that they can not expect anything from Europe! But they are trying to detach them from Russia. Ukraine was part of the whole of Russia! 

Why did Ukraine become an independent state? Because at the time of the Yalta Conference, Roosevelt had arrived with his plan for the creation of the UN … Stalin, at that time, said yes but provided Ukraine and Belarus were considered separate states because it gave him two more votes at the UN! And that’s why at that time we created the fiction of an independent Ukraine. At the time of the dislocation of the USSR it was said that Ukraine was truly independent. And that is why Ukraine was separated from Russia, a consequence of the Yalta Conference.”

The Voice of Russia: Is there a chance that France will leave NATO? 

General Jean du Verdier. “Relations with NATO were never stable. For the time being this NATO detachment, I do not even see it pointing there. I think the opposite is happening. Now, in terms of international politics, I would also like to note that there is the analogy between the policy of Vladimir Putin and Karl Schmidt, who developed the idea of large groups independent of one another and not intervening In relation to each other. According to this theory, Russia has the control of all the countries that surround it. [I read this as our “sphere of influence’ — tr.] I think this is a view that is peaceful.

There are some large ensembles which are each independent of one another, but at present they are intervening in Russian space. When one gets involved in business in Georgia, one enters the sphere naturally controlled by Russia! So it’s aggressive. Putin has never shown any intention towards the European or American space! He only claims to control the sphere around him. It’s not aggressive! It is normal for Russia to defend itself. 

Russia is a country-martyr since the Mongols and the invasions of the Poles, Napoleon, and the Germans! [The General omits Sweden under Charles XII! — tr.] She never assaulted anyone! But she has always been assaulted! It is normal for Russian society to develop a will to guarantee its security and create this glacis around its territory! I maintain that Russia is a victim-country!”

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