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World

ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Hollande satisfait de sa politique internationale

by Pierre Barbancey

Hollande is Satisfied with his International Politics

Translated Wednesday 21 September 2016, by Henry Crapo

On the occasion of Ambassadors’ Week [1] the head of state was happy to sketch a picture of the international situation, but limited himself to declarations of principle. His policies are weighted down by his relations with the Gulf monarchs and by his membership in NATO.

Photo, François Mori, Reuters/Pool

The traditional "Ambassadors’ Week", which brings together each year in Paris the "special envoys" of our diplomacy, opened Monday, and was marked by the discourse of François Hollande, yesterday. A week which is supposed to be open to the public, in the form of meetings, in which they would like to make believe that the workings of governmental political thought concerning international questions will be of exemplary transparency. Nevertheless, to hear the chief of state, there are reasons to be disappointed. François Hollande, instead of offering the keys to a strategy and to the role of France in the world, contented himself by evoking the great issues confronting the planet, and by giving the country’s positions on these issues, without going into details. By limiting himself to some big declarations of principle, but while carefully avoiding learning from the mistaken attitudes of the past, and by also masking the responsabilities of these and those, including the responsibilities of French politics. There is really no reason to be surprised. The French representatives, in the National Assembly and in the Senate, are in reality separated off from any debate concerning the international engagements of France, especially so when these engagements include the sending of military batallions. Which has become more and more the case.

Strong ties with certain countries

So we were served up a sort of "passage in review" yesterday. For example, concerning the recent violation of the Syrian border by Turkey, with whom the close links with France are well known, François Hollande thus spoke of "contradictory" military interventions, which "risk a general conflagration". Which is not false. But, as interventions go, the French president knows of what he speaks, being one who dreamed (and is still dreaming) of bombing Syria, and one who has already sent his special forces there, without any official declaration. In suspension over a political position that has already proven its nocivity, and in any case, its inefficacy, he denounces Russia as "guilty of his arrangements with the regime of Bachar Al Assad, who uses this support in order to bomb not only the rebels, but the civilian population, acts which play into the hands of the extremists of all sorts". Not a word, on the other hand, about the support (and the word is too weak) afforded by Ankara to the djihadists of the organisation Islamic State (ISIS/DAESH). Hollande is satisfied to argue that "Today, it is Turkey that makes the choice to deploy a part of its army in Syrian territory to defend itself against Daesh, something one can well understand after the attacks from which the country has suffered." (sic) If he underlines that it is "also to carry out attacks against the Kurds, who themselves confront the "Islamic State" with the help of the coalition," it is without the slightest note of condemnation. Perhaps because the United States supports this operation? "These multiple, contradictory interventions carry the risk of a general conflagration. Also, with absolute urgency, it is essential to stop the combat and to return to the negotiation table", declares François Hollande, preaching in the desert. He can even make reference to Resolution 2254 of the United Nations, concerning the establishment of a transition authority and the necessity of real negotiation between the Syrian state and the opposition. But of what opposition does he speak, he who speaks of an urgent peaceful settlement, and adds: "France is ready to promote this process with the Gulf nations, with whom we have woven relations of mutual confidence!" The responsability of Saudi Arabia and Qatar in the rise of wahabism and in the financing of the terrorist groups across the world has escaped notice by the French president?

And it goes on like that for almost all the questions. Libya, "where all the institutions have collapsed", thereby setting apart the western and French responsibility for this chaos, Africa "touched by an insecurity that damages its economic development", thereby sparing the multinational corporations that steal the riches, or, again, the Near-East, where he observes "with regret", that conditions are not yet established to permit direct negotiations between Palestinians and Israeli, thereby setting aside all criticism of colonial and war policies of Benyamin Netanyahu. Clearly, one can not, the same time, evoke for France an independent foreign policy, and be proud to play a role in the integrated command stucture of NATO. More than a contradiction, this is the acknowlegement of a true engagement on the part of the French government.

[1Semaine des Ambassadeurs, Paris, 29 Aug - 2 Sept.