January 21, 2008

France To Play In U.S. Bathtub?

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Bleary-eyed, I see this morning's business news is dominated by a sharp drop in East Asian stock indexes and an even steepeer one in India. The US markets, which are experiencing an ugly new year already, are closed today for the MLK holiday, so tomorrow could be real interesting.

I want to pull the coattails of FotM readers to another recent development which could be of greater importance in the long term, one that the stock market stuff is likely to drive out of the news entirely. This is the just-announced agreement between France and the United Arab Emirates to establish a French naval base in Abu Dhabi, with 500 personnel stationed there. In what has been pretty much exclusive American turf as far as imperialist military presence goes, this is a big deal.

Commentators have pointed to a variety of short-term factors in the move--new French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy buddying up to Bush and the US, the Gulf States' nervousness about both Iran and US war talk against Iran, firming up French nuclear and arms sales in the region, and more.

But the big picture tells a different story. Bush will be gone soon, Sarkozy eventually, while French capital will now have a military toehold in the heart of the Middle East. Given that the invasion of Iraq was a US bid to keep a hegemonic hand on the region's oil, given that one major nightmare for the US ruling class is that oil-producing states will dump the sinking dollar in favor of the euro for petroleum sales, given that the Bush administration has created a world historic defeat for the US in Iraq, this would seem to be an objective intensification of the contention between US and European bourgeoisies for world domination, as well as an example of rulers in the Gulf States seeking to play on the contradictions between imperialist blocs.

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