Why so serious?

France’s reaction to the Mauritania coup, I think, can be boiled down to the fact the rest of the world reacted so negatively. French intell. likely had a certain view (not necessarily favorable, but not resistant), where as for political reasons (domestically and internationally) the Élysée has adopted a very different one. So blatantly backing the overthrow of a democratically elected leader in a region where such men are few and far between is no longer politically correct, even for the French. That there is so little at stake in Mauritania didn’t help the case against Sidi either. If the French had come out in favor of the coup, the world would ask questions about why they were so adamant over a country of little geostrategic value (the country doesn’t even have a major Islamist threat to try and sway the rest with; yet). If the condemnations out of Washington, Addis Ababa, Brussels, Moscow, and just about everywhere else (except the Arab League) had not been so resoundingly negative, the French would have stuck to their traditional tenebrous complicity. It would have damaged the country’s prestige to take such an outlier status.

There are also domestic political matters to consider, such as the Socialist Party’s reaction against which Sarko is likely posturing, but this is a blog about Third World politics and geopolitics, not French internal squawking.

One thought on “Why so serious?

  1. Hi Kal,

    The French have moved on from the Gaullist era. Period. Sarkozy is not Chirac and he will not repeat the kind of fumbles about Africa and democracy that you might have seen in previous episode of the France-Afrique saga. I dislike him in many ways and for many reasons, but I have to give him at least this: he has made very clear that France will not support this kind of play any more and I think he is sincere.

    As for the French intel community, it was never very strong, still is not, and it does and tells what the President says. They might prefer to work with military guys that they have trained or helped train, but they will keep their mouth shut as usual.

    Last but not least, it is very unlikely that France would intervene anywhere any time soon. We are just as overstretched militarily as the US are. Sarkozy committed an extra battalion to Afghanistan and, thanks to his predecessors, France has no plane carrier to support its posturing in front of Nouakchott nor any long range troop transport plane available.

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