Jean-Pierre Gorges, French Parliament's Lone Voice for Peace
I know little to nothing about Jean-Pierre Gorges, other than that he is a member of the French National Assembly and that he alone, out of 502 lawmakers, voted against expanding France's participation in the US-led war against Islamic State militants.
On Tuesday, the French parliament voted 488-1, with 13 abstentions, to increase airstrikes targeting IS fighters in Syria and Iraq in the wake of last week's Islamist terrorist attacks that left 17 people, including 10 staff members of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, dead in Paris.
The closest thing to a unified antiwar front, the Gauche démocrate et républicaine (Democratic and Republican Left), a coalition of Communists, Greens and other leftists, could only manage to muster enough courage to cast 12 abstaining votes, with 9 members not voting at all.
That left Gorges, a member of the center-right UMP party and deputy mayor of Chartres, as the sole antiwar vote in the entire French parliament, a scenario reminiscent of how California Democrat Barbara Lee cast the lone dissenting vote (518-1) against the punitive US war in Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, DC.
Those horrific attacks were the work of al-Qaeda, the global terrorist network the United States and its Western allies helped create in the 1980s. Al-Qaeda has also claimed responsibility for last week's Paris attack.
Al-Qaeda and Islamic State don't particularly care for each other. The former has even rejected the latter as being "too extreme." As far as anyone knows, IS had nothing to do with last week's attacks. But just as the United States lashed out at Iraq and its longtime dictator (and erstwhile US ally) Saddam Hussein, France is now escalating a war that will surely do little but stoke further attacks like last week's.
Jean-Pierre Gorges understands this all too well. He wisely explained that he voted against authorizing more killing, maiming and destruction because such action would only stoke more extremist violence.
Gorges also asserted that "emotion should not dictate [French] foreign policy" and that France could not be the "world's little policeman."
"While it lacks the means to ensure safety in France, the army is sent into a conflict beyond our borders," he lamented.
He added: "In a country in protracted crisis, common sense dictates that we devote our energy to our own problems before going to bomb the others."
As is always the case in the United States, Gorges' antiwar voice was drowned out by hawks in government and the media. Indeed, the French corporate mainstream media have all but ignored Gorges' wise and principled rejection of further violence and instead have gone into full war fever mode, dedicating the overwhelming majority of air time to voices advocating more bombs, more bullets, more bodies.
As French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, a Socialist, proclaims that "France is not at war with Islam and Muslims," bombs soon to be dropped and missiles soon to be fired by French warplanes will undoubtedly claim innocent Muslim lives. Spurred on by extremist Muslim leaders and the sight of their loved ones blasted to bits, some victims will seek revenge.
And so the brutal cycle will continue, benefiting no one but radical militants, scheming politicians and the corporations that make the bombs and bullets used by both sides of the unending conflict.
For casting the lone dissenting vote against this madness, Jean-Pierre Gorges deserves the highest praise. But there isn't a single mainstream media article in France, or anywhere, about his heroic act of pacifism. As the French say, quelle domage.
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