PARIS – Rejecting a “herd-like harmony” with the Biden administration, Marine Le Pen, the French far-right presidential candidate, dismissed on Wednesday that France would abandon NATO’s integrated military command if elected and seek the alliance’s “strategic rapprochement” with Russia.
With Russia’s war in Ukraine raging, Ms. Le Pen has effectively signaled that her election would end or at least disrupt President Biden’s united coalition vis-à-vis Russian President Vladimir Putin, possibly creating a breach in Western Europe for Putin’s exploitation.
Rejecting multilateralism, criticizing Germany, criticizing the European Union, prioritizing low-priority climate issues, attacking “globalization” and maintaining near-total silence about Russia’s brutal attack on Ukraine, Ms. Le Pen gave a taste of a worldview that was at one time reminiscent of Trump’s presidency and seemed to It directly threatens NATO’s attempts to arm Ukraine and defeat Russia.
A sway to the far right by France, the nuclear power and permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, would reorganize the world, with unexpected and devastating consequences.
At a massive 75-minute press conference devoted to international relations, apparently designed to bolster her credentials on the world stage, Ms Le Pen said France would remain in NATO and respect Basic Article 5, which states that an attack on one alliance member is an attack on all. .
But she added: “I will not put our forces under a unified NATO command or under a European command.”
Her position, she said, was not “subject to the American protectorate exercised on European soil under the guise of NATO” – a position she compared to the position taken by General Charles de Gaulle in 1966, when he drove France out of an integrated NATO army. leadership, where he remained until 2009.
She said her position did not indicate “submission to Moscow”. But her promise to pull France out of the leadership was consistent with the “equality” policy of the great powers she said she would pursue if she defeated incumbent President Emmanuel Macron in the run-off for the French presidency on April 24.
Opinion polls show Mr Macron with 53 to 55 per cent of the vote, ahead of Le Pen by 45 to 47 per cent. But the political situation is volatile as the president, rushing across the country, races to make up for a lackluster initial campaign. The French far-right is closer to power than at any time since World War II.
Ms. Le Pen suggested that the proposed rapprochement with Russia, “once the Russo-Ukrainian war is over and settled by a peace treaty”, would be in the US interest, since Washington would not be “close to the Russian-Chinese Federation”.
Ms. Le Pen, the former leader of the National Rally, the National Front, a staunchly anti-immigration party, dismissed the Biden administration as “too aggressive toward Beijing,” saying the United States “needs enemies in order to unite its allies under his hegemony.”
It was one of the very few references to the United States, and none positive, as Ms. Le Pen embarked on a sort of tour of her interests that also overlooked Russia but included a lengthy explanation of why France was formally committed to Lebanon. .
“France is not France without greatness,” she declared.
Nor is France without protests. The press conference was briefly disrupted by a protester holding a heart-shaped portrait of Ms. Le Pen and Mr. Putin. The protester was called to the ground and the security guards pulled him up.
Ms Le Pen said that France’s “non-alignment” that she had imagined “would threaten the enemies of the Western camp in a more effective way because the country would no longer pursue an alliance with the United States and would therefore cause greater uneasiness and a deterrent in the accounts of all enemies.”
Mr Macron has attacked Ms Le Pen for bent on destroying the European Union and compared the April 24 vote to a referendum on Europe. On Tuesday in Strasbourg, he said, nationalism leads to an “alliance of countries that want to wage war”.
Ms Le Pen said a British-style exit from the European Union is not in her plans but she favors an “alliance of European countries”, dismissing Mr Macron’s repeated references to “European sovereignty” and “European strategic independence”. In practice, it favors a series of measures – including favoring the French over EU citizens in jobs and housing – designed to undermine the 27-member union.
The same aim seems to lie behind her diatribes against Germany, France’s most important partner in building a united Europe. Franco-German friendship has stood at the heart of post-war Europe, and a symbol of the continent’s recovery after the devastation of World War II.
Ms. Le Pen declared that France and Germany face “irreconcilable strategic differences”.
It said it would stop all cooperation with Germany on the development of new military equipment in order to pursue national programmes. She denounced the “secret and clever domination of Europe” orchestrated by Angela Merkel, the former German chancellor. She noted that Germany had embarked on a secret plan to sabotage the centralized France model with a German federal model or even create “large border crossing zones”.
Le Pen vowed that Germany would not be allowed to “destroy the French nuclear industry”. She insisted that Germany’s interests diverge from France’s in that Germany “considers NATO the natural pillar of its security, yesterday and today, which drives it to buy America.”
To make her point, Ms. Le Pen said, “Germany thus represents the polar opposite of France’s strategic identity.” Nevertheless, she said, “I want to assure that I have no hostility to the German nation.”
The general message was clear enough. Rejecting Franco-German cooperation, hostility or questionable hostility toward the United States and NATO, and seeking rapprochement with Russia and a softer approach toward China, Ms. Le Pen will take France in a direction that, for the Biden administration, will severely test one of America’s oldest wartime alliances in Europe .