‘Obama and Putin should be in the same room at Normandy celebrations’
Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT and TomDispatch, and a frequent contributor to websites and radio shows ranging from the US to East Asia. Born in Brazil, he's been a foreign correspondent since 1985, and has lived in London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, Washington, Bangkok and Hong Kong. Even before 9/11 he specialized in covering the arc from the Middle East to Central and East Asia, with an emphasis on Big Power geopolitics and energy wars. He is the author of 'Globalistan' (Nimble Books, 2007), 'Red Zone Blues' (Nimble Books, 2007), 'Obama does Globalistan' (Nimble Books, 2009) and a contributing editor for a number of other books, including the upcoming 'Crossroads of Leadership: Globalization and the New American Century in the Obama Presidency' (Routledge). When not on the road, he alternates between Sao Paulo, New York, London, Bangkok and Hong Kong.
RT:President Hollande plans to dine twice in one night, separately with Barack Obama and with Vladimir Putin. Is this smart diplomacy or exacerbating the awkwardness?
Pepe Escobar: I’ve been wondering about the menu actually. Who gets the cheeseburger, who gets the stick of foie gras. But this is really very serious because Ben Rhodes, that spectacular mediocrity that acts as one of Obama's foreign policy advisors, leaked to the American press that there was never supposed to be a one-on-one meeting between Obama and Putin. So, the White House actually refused to be in the same room with Hollande and Putin. So the French had to scramble to organize two dinners in a row. This is so ridiculous I cannot find words to qualify it. And coming on the heels of the $1 billion Obama hammer, which is more NATO expansion in Poland and close the Ukrainian border as well, practically giving a blank check to the extremely hysterical Polish government to keep trying telling the world that Russia is going to invade tomorrow, or the day after. It’s completely absurd. And they are in Normandy to celebrate 70 years [since the Normandy landings in WWII]. This is an extremely serious business, the participation especially of Russia. Twenty five million to 30 million people there were dead. In fact, Russia won the war first, and then the West won the war against Nazi Germany. So Obama and Putin should be in the same room, they belong to the same room vis-à-vis the effort of the 70 years ago. Now because of schoolboy tactics of the Obama administration we have these ridiculous two dinners in a row on Thursday in France.
RT:Obama will get the first meal sitting, the Russian president second. That's probably no accident, is it?
PE: The empire first with cheeseburgers and then Putin with borshch and beef stroganoff. Obama doesn’t know how to drink wine and Putin is not a big fan of it, so who is going to drink the big ones? Hollande. We have been diverted into faits de guerre (acts of war - RT) as the French say. Stupidity. When we should be talking about serious business like Obama, Putin and Hollande in the same room at a dinner discussing Ukraine, discussing the expansion of NATO, discussing the BRICS and NATO as opposing camps nowadays and trying to diffuse the international tensions they were stalked up essentially by the Obama administration going back to the putsch in February in Ukraine. And now we have the completely crazy narrative that over 200 or 300 civilians killed in Eastern Ukraine are terrorists. We have the victims being blamed. This is completely crazy. This should be discussed at the presidential level at the same room.
RT:Which of the dinners is likely to prove toughest for Hollande to digest, in your opinion?
PE: I would say more indigestible dinner would be with Obama in fact. French big business, they are not interested in applying more sanctions on Russia. French business wants to stay in Russia and do business with Russia and the Russian sphere. The Americans are more complicated because they are trying to ram over the heads of assorted European governments, the Trans-Atlantic Partnership and the French are absolutely terrified about it. Not only parts of Hollande’s government but the average French citizen. First of all, because of the drubbing that the Socialists got in the European Parliamentary elections, much of it had to do with the Trans-Atlantic Partnership, which is in a nutshell American big business taking over large slates of European industry and markets. This is what Obama is going to be plugging to Hollande on Thursday night: “Please, sign the Trans-Atlantic Agreement.” Obama is on a military trip – Poland, Brussels, NATO – and on a commercial trip, which is this very special meeting with Hollande, trying to convince Hollande to sign this agreement within the next few months. It’s not going to happen, and public pressure in France is going to be enormous against it.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.