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The French Presidential Election: now is the time for murderers

Published 5 April 2012

All France rose in indignation against the 7 cold and odious murders committed by Mohamed Merah. But imagine if Merah had been even more coldly calculating and put himself forward for the Presidency, and managed to obtain the requisite 500 "sponsors": then the Constitutional Council would have validated his candidacy, thus permitting him, if elected, to multiply his victims by millions. The smallest of France’s atom bombs has 7 to 8 times more power than the Hiroshima bomb which caused 200 000 deaths; if targeted well, it can kill one and a half million people. France’s total arsenal of 300 "nuclear warheads" can cause a billion deaths.

That’s an absurd hypothesis, you will say: nobody capable of committing huge crimes against humanity would have gained the 500 sponsorships from mayors and other elected officers of the Republic.

On the contrary! The person holding the nuclear code can decide, alone, “in his private conscience”, to use them against any population whatever. He is even the only one to hold that power, that exorbitant “prerogative” which François Hollande “claims” and “assumes fully”. As does Nicolas Sarkozy, for whom “deterrence remains for France an absolute imperative; nuclear deterrence is the Nation’s life-insurance”. Each of these men gained well over 500 “sponsorships”, without any of their supporters worrying about the risk that they might “press the nuclear button”.

That’s an absurd hypothesis, you will say again: the risk does not exist, because nuclear weapons are not made to be used, but only to deter an enemy from attacking us. Oh yes, the risk does exist. It is even compulsory: in order for nuclear weapons to deter an enemy, it needs to be possible to really use them. Everyone who preaches “nuclear deterrence” knows this; and knows also that the deterrent effect is never guaranteed, because it depends on the enemy’s perceptions, calculations, means of retaliation - and desires. Thus a Head of State or presidential candidate who approves of France having a nuclear arsenal, and who says he is ready to use it for deterrence, has to jolly well be prepared to press the button.

Those men are prepared, you will say, but they won’t press that button. Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande are humanists, respectful of our values, so they won’t do it. They’re only pretending today, so as never to have to really do it tomorrow.

Really? Look, it’s A or B: you can’t have it both ways.

Either (A) our leading presidential candidates are mouthing empty words, just bluffing, and a hypothetically strong, determined, aggressive, even ferocious enemy, also possessing nuclear weapons, will refuse to be intimidated. He will come “bellowing into our countryside” (as the “Marseillaise” puts it) and in that circumstance we will have no choice but surrender - as President Giscard d’Estaing was resigned to do, quite reasonably, during the Cold War.

Or else (B), their posture must be taken seriously, and they will act as President Truman, a good Christian, did in August 1945, even though he had known since 13 July that Japan wanted to surrender... they will use their nuclear weapons. The things exist, they cost a great deal, so you damn well use them, for God’s sake - for the demigod-in-chief’s sake!

That’s still an absurd hypothesis, you will say again from the last blockhouse of our nuclear “Maginot Line” for which we paid 300 billion euros. France’s Constitutional Council is the guardian of institutions and people who give top priority to respecting Human Rights, notably the right to life which has led us to abolish the death penalty. Never would that Council, knowing the criminal intentions of a man like Merah, allow him to occupy the highest office. They would necessarily invalidate his candidacy.

Alas, they wouldn’t. For one thing, the Council cannot know people’s hidden intentions, just as the police and intelligence services failed, as it seems, to find out Merah’s plans until he acted. And it’s worse: although Sarkozy and Hollande proclaim their wish to maintain, modernize and perpetuate France’s nuclear arsenal and to use it if they see fit, on 22 March the Constitutional Council still validated their candidacies.

On 19 March I had called for their invalidation on grounds of “preparation for crimes against humanity, infringement of treaties ratified by France, and non-respect of the Constitution of the French Republic.” But, alledgedly considering my request, the Council did not take a glance at all the treaties, humanitarian law and duly cited articles of the French Constitution which impose a duty to negotiate the abolition of nuclear weapons and which all condemn the committing and preparing of a crime against humanity.

After all, “hundreds of thousands of deaths, women, children, old people burned up in a split second, hundreds of thousands more dying in the following years after atrocious suffering, isn’t that what is called a crime against humanity?”

That was the question put to General de Gaulle by Alain Peyrefitte on 4 May 1962, as they emerged from the Council of Ministers which had discussed the nuclear strike force. What was de Gaulle’s response? “De Gaulle raised his arms in the air. That wasn’t his problem.” Confronted with that question on 22 March 2012, the Constitutional Court lowered its arms and turned away. It was not its problem to say whether nuclear arms, weapons for crimes against humanity, are contrary to the Constitution.

So now is the time for murderers. Merah opened the way with modest amateur murders. Whoever you elect to the Presidency will have an open path to crimes against humanity, even on an industrial scale. And with no minute of silence observed as a protestation in every school.

However, according to two polls taken four years apart by two very different agencies (WorldPublicOpinion, 2008 ; IFOP, 2012), more than eight French citizens out of ten want nuclear weapons to be abolished, included those of France. That’s the likely reason why Sarkozy and Hollande are totally unwilling to hold a referendum on the question. With the blessing of the Constitutional Council, they are conniving like fairground crooks to impose their solution on us - the solution of organized crime with a democratic trademark.

This crime is so great, so odious, that almost no one in the highest spheres of power wants to even think about it, much less rise against it.

Jean-Marie Matagne

Ph. D.

President of Action des Citoyens pour le Désarmement Nucléaire (ACDN)

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