France as the world’s new policeman

French President Sarkozy is the new George Bush, pushing the military intervention first in Libya and now in the Ivory Coast, where French-led UN forces, battling another murderous dictator, captured President Gbagbo, who was ousted in an election but refused to  leave office.  Now Europe is interventionist, while the United States comes in only reluctantly, if at all.  Like Europe used to do.

Barack Obama swept to power in 2008 on a wave of anti-war sentiment, while David Cameron entered Downing Street last year insisting that the West “can’t drop democracy from 40,000ft”.

Yet the past three weeks have found the  [UN security] council – this time with a less noisy Anglo-American wing – willing to pass stunningly powerful resolutions allowing missile strikes against murderous leaders.

Both resolution 1973 on Libya and resolution 1975 on Ivory Coast give external forces the authority to take “all necessary” measures to protect civilians from violence – practically a carte blanche.

A Western diplomat at the UN last night said the resolutions showed members were taking seriously the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine, adopted in 2006, promising “timely and decisive action” against atrocities.

“TV pictures and the threat of humanitarian catastrophe have made people not want to wait for massacres to happen, as in Rwanda,” he said, in language strikingly reminiscent of the Blair-Clinton era.

The diplomat said that crucial in both cases had been the endorsement of action by the respective regional authorities – on Libya, the Arab League and on Ivory Coast, Ecowas and the African Union.

“It’s very difficult if you’re Russia or China to say ‘no’ if the Arabs and the Africans themselves are saying ‘yes’,” he said.

Also important has been the belligerence of Paris. The site of the Chirac-era “Non!” has become gung-ho, ensuring military – and symbolic – backing from the European mainland.

While Mr Obama has stayed almost invisible, the domestically embattled Nicolas Sarkozy has taken personal “ownership” of both interventions, rushing out his statements before anyone else.

via Ivory Coast: UN air strikes show West’s new appetite for military action – Telegraph.

See French troops capture Gbagbo..

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Now I’ve got “The Pink Panther” running through my head.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Now I’ve got “The Pink Panther” running through my head.

  • Dan Kempin

    Nations have always been willing to dabble in the conflicts of other nations, with political calculations and something to gain, of course. (Thank you France, for without your help we would have lost the war of independence from Britain. Conversely, if you are a Yankee, thanks to both France and Britain, for you helped us win the Civil war by staying out of it.)

    A global economy has also complicated international relations, leaving big nations to have significant economic interests far afield and making international relations very complicated.

    It does seem to me,though, that things have been changing. The UN, since its inception, has been just another cloak behind which the daggers of statesmanship could fly. George Bush acted with the approval of the UN, but it was clear to everyone that he was acting in national interest. The Bush Doctrine, agree or disagree, was driven by national interest.

    It seems to me that lately there has been a subtle shift in the perception of the UN away from the idea of a forum where differing nations can resolve differences in the interest of peace and toward the acceptance the the UN as a rightful global government. That shift troubles me deeply.

    Is it just me, or does national sovereignty seem to be a fading value?

  • Dan Kempin

    Nations have always been willing to dabble in the conflicts of other nations, with political calculations and something to gain, of course. (Thank you France, for without your help we would have lost the war of independence from Britain. Conversely, if you are a Yankee, thanks to both France and Britain, for you helped us win the Civil war by staying out of it.)

    A global economy has also complicated international relations, leaving big nations to have significant economic interests far afield and making international relations very complicated.

    It does seem to me,though, that things have been changing. The UN, since its inception, has been just another cloak behind which the daggers of statesmanship could fly. George Bush acted with the approval of the UN, but it was clear to everyone that he was acting in national interest. The Bush Doctrine, agree or disagree, was driven by national interest.

    It seems to me that lately there has been a subtle shift in the perception of the UN away from the idea of a forum where differing nations can resolve differences in the interest of peace and toward the acceptance the the UN as a rightful global government. That shift troubles me deeply.

    Is it just me, or does national sovereignty seem to be a fading value?

  • BW

    Dan,

    I know this is a little bit nitpicky and not the point of your email, but France and Britain did actually give the Confederacy some support, though they never officially recognized the CSA, under threat of war from the Union. Confederate Navy raider ships were built in French and British shipyards, and they sold them arms and munition. The Confederacy’s problem with those two countries was that they wanted those nations to actually recognize them officially and become formal allies, and began to withold cotton from them to force their hands by starving their textile industries. Britian and France just imported more cotton from Egypt and India in response.

  • BW

    Dan,

    I know this is a little bit nitpicky and not the point of your email, but France and Britain did actually give the Confederacy some support, though they never officially recognized the CSA, under threat of war from the Union. Confederate Navy raider ships were built in French and British shipyards, and they sold them arms and munition. The Confederacy’s problem with those two countries was that they wanted those nations to actually recognize them officially and become formal allies, and began to withold cotton from them to force their hands by starving their textile industries. Britian and France just imported more cotton from Egypt and India in response.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Really, France hasn’t changed that much.
    Your Friend Uwe pointed out years ago in newspaper articles that France has a rather rich history of military interventionism. They seem to do better against third world countries than Germany, but that aside…
    Sarkozy from the beginning has capitalized on this, and he may have backed the U.S. in Iraq if he was president when we got involved. But some speculate that Chirac, and I know I misspelled the mans name, lost partly due to his lack of interventionism. But that is just stuff I pick up in my sporadic forays into the news. France actually intervenes quite a bit, and normally does not bother with the U.N. to do so, when it is dealing with former colonies in North Africa. Where it has interests… It had interest in Iraq too, just not the same ones we did.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Really, France hasn’t changed that much.
    Your Friend Uwe pointed out years ago in newspaper articles that France has a rather rich history of military interventionism. They seem to do better against third world countries than Germany, but that aside…
    Sarkozy from the beginning has capitalized on this, and he may have backed the U.S. in Iraq if he was president when we got involved. But some speculate that Chirac, and I know I misspelled the mans name, lost partly due to his lack of interventionism. But that is just stuff I pick up in my sporadic forays into the news. France actually intervenes quite a bit, and normally does not bother with the U.N. to do so, when it is dealing with former colonies in North Africa. Where it has interests… It had interest in Iraq too, just not the same ones we did.

  • Joanne

    Obama has sent back the bust of Napoleon, oui?
    Both Lybia and the Cote d’Ivoire are former French colonies. The French consider them to be within their sphere of influence. This is nothing new. But this should be pushing all of Obama’s anti-colonial buttons, big time. I believe the left is supporting GoDaffy and we are helping him by obfuscation. Mais oui?

  • Joanne

    Obama has sent back the bust of Napoleon, oui?
    Both Lybia and the Cote d’Ivoire are former French colonies. The French consider them to be within their sphere of influence. This is nothing new. But this should be pushing all of Obama’s anti-colonial buttons, big time. I believe the left is supporting GoDaffy and we are helping him by obfuscation. Mais oui?

  • Louis

    Joanne, Libya is a former Italian colony, not French.

  • Louis

    Joanne, Libya is a former Italian colony, not French.

  • helen

    If the French want to recreate their Foreign Legion or whatever, let them have at it! Do we have to finance/pull them out of what they get into?

  • helen

    If the French want to recreate their Foreign Legion or whatever, let them have at it! Do we have to finance/pull them out of what they get into?

  • Joanne

    For an excellent take on Obama’s position vis-a-vis the New World Order (our current foreign policy) read Stanley Kurtz’s NRO article on Samantha Power. http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/263872/samantha-power-s-power-stanley-kurtz?page=4&sms_ss=facebook&at_xt=4d9bba2fea950623%2C0
    Her ideas seem to be our policy at the moment. In other words, this could answer why we’re hiding in the bushes on Lybia and soon, everywhere. Power has been Obama’s foreign policy advisor since he was a senator.

  • Joanne

    For an excellent take on Obama’s position vis-a-vis the New World Order (our current foreign policy) read Stanley Kurtz’s NRO article on Samantha Power. http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/263872/samantha-power-s-power-stanley-kurtz?page=4&sms_ss=facebook&at_xt=4d9bba2fea950623%2C0
    Her ideas seem to be our policy at the moment. In other words, this could answer why we’re hiding in the bushes on Lybia and soon, everywhere. Power has been Obama’s foreign policy advisor since he was a senator.

  • Joanne

    Louis,
    Lybia was Italian, how could I forget? That would explain why the Italians feel some responsibility for the refugees? So, in Lybia it is a New World Order for France. Bombs to stop suffering from agents of the UN, if you paint yourselves pink and don’t do anything bad.

  • Joanne

    Louis,
    Lybia was Italian, how could I forget? That would explain why the Italians feel some responsibility for the refugees? So, in Lybia it is a New World Order for France. Bombs to stop suffering from agents of the UN, if you paint yourselves pink and don’t do anything bad.

  • William Gassett

    re: “where French-led UN forces, battling another murderous dictator, captured President Gbagbo, who was ousted in an election but refused to leave office. ”

    Elizabeth Kendal, who was Principal Researcher and Writer for the World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission (2002-April 2009), has a different take on the Ivory Coast situation:

    More importantly, precisely because he is prepared to sell-out Ivory Coast’s sovereignty and her immense agricultural (coffee, cocoa) and mineral (diamonds, oil) wealth in exchange for power, Ouattara has the backing of resource-hungry Western powers, in particular the neo-colonialist hegemon: France.

    In this regard, the international media does largely misunderstand the situation in Ivory Coast. For the high stakes in Ivory Coast relate not only to race (‘Ivorite’ vs ‘immigrant’) and religion (Christian vs Muslim), but also to Ivorian independence vs French neo-colonialism.

    To this end, Alassane Ouattara is essentially France’s man in Ivory Coast. He is France’s guarantee that their exploitative monopoly and neo-colonialist hegemony over Ivorian amenities — including water and telecommunications and banks — will remain. The colonial pact brokered in the 1960s mandates that 65 percent of the foreign currency reserves of former French colonies in Africa go into the French Treasury, while a further 20 percent of reserves go to cover “financial liabilities”. Did you ever wonder why Francophone Africa was so poor? And while this is revenue that France clearly cannot afford to lose, it is revenue that Francophone Africa obviously cannot afford to give.

    It is this poverty-perpetuating French neo-colonialism that staunch nationalist Laurent Gbagbo has been fighting for decades. This is why France particularly is so keen to see regime change in Ivory Coast.

    http://elizabethkendal.blogspot.com/search/label/Cote%20d%27Ivoire

    Also at that site she writes: “…Ivory Coast’s Constitutional Council, which had been investigating irregularities, announced on 3 Dec 2010 that Gbagbo was the winner…”

  • William Gassett

    re: “where French-led UN forces, battling another murderous dictator, captured President Gbagbo, who was ousted in an election but refused to leave office. ”

    Elizabeth Kendal, who was Principal Researcher and Writer for the World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission (2002-April 2009), has a different take on the Ivory Coast situation:

    More importantly, precisely because he is prepared to sell-out Ivory Coast’s sovereignty and her immense agricultural (coffee, cocoa) and mineral (diamonds, oil) wealth in exchange for power, Ouattara has the backing of resource-hungry Western powers, in particular the neo-colonialist hegemon: France.

    In this regard, the international media does largely misunderstand the situation in Ivory Coast. For the high stakes in Ivory Coast relate not only to race (‘Ivorite’ vs ‘immigrant’) and religion (Christian vs Muslim), but also to Ivorian independence vs French neo-colonialism.

    To this end, Alassane Ouattara is essentially France’s man in Ivory Coast. He is France’s guarantee that their exploitative monopoly and neo-colonialist hegemony over Ivorian amenities — including water and telecommunications and banks — will remain. The colonial pact brokered in the 1960s mandates that 65 percent of the foreign currency reserves of former French colonies in Africa go into the French Treasury, while a further 20 percent of reserves go to cover “financial liabilities”. Did you ever wonder why Francophone Africa was so poor? And while this is revenue that France clearly cannot afford to lose, it is revenue that Francophone Africa obviously cannot afford to give.

    It is this poverty-perpetuating French neo-colonialism that staunch nationalist Laurent Gbagbo has been fighting for decades. This is why France particularly is so keen to see regime change in Ivory Coast.

    http://elizabethkendal.blogspot.com/search/label/Cote%20d%27Ivoire

    Also at that site she writes: “…Ivory Coast’s Constitutional Council, which had been investigating irregularities, announced on 3 Dec 2010 that Gbagbo was the winner…”

  • Dan Kempin

    Thanks for the info, William. I strongly suspected that there was more to it than we were hearing.

  • Dan Kempin

    Thanks for the info, William. I strongly suspected that there was more to it than we were hearing.

  • SKPeterson

    France has long intervened in the affairs of its former West African colonies, often ostensibly to “protect the lives and property of French citizens.” There is a reason the French Foreign Legion still exists.

    Also, Gbagbo had relied upon France in the past for support, and the official French policy was a Kerry-esque “they were for Gbagbo before they were against him.” French neo-colonialism is alive and well, and West Africa will not be fully able to settle its own affairs unless and until the French refrain from intervening.

  • SKPeterson

    France has long intervened in the affairs of its former West African colonies, often ostensibly to “protect the lives and property of French citizens.” There is a reason the French Foreign Legion still exists.

    Also, Gbagbo had relied upon France in the past for support, and the official French policy was a Kerry-esque “they were for Gbagbo before they were against him.” French neo-colonialism is alive and well, and West Africa will not be fully able to settle its own affairs unless and until the French refrain from intervening.

  • Porcell

    Sarkozy is one of the few European leaders who has no problem defending France’s interests. He doesn’t buy into the EUtopian view that nations should be nice to each other. Cameron, though a bit more circumspect about this, also understands British vital interests.

    Both Sarkozy and Cameron regard Obama fundamentally as a joke in that Obama defying all reason and practicality has faith in the UN and other feckless international bodies. Probably even more naive than Carter, Obama has little understanding that all nations properly pursue their own national interests. Obama being a socialist at heart is a dangerous utopian.

  • Porcell

    Sarkozy is one of the few European leaders who has no problem defending France’s interests. He doesn’t buy into the EUtopian view that nations should be nice to each other. Cameron, though a bit more circumspect about this, also understands British vital interests.

    Both Sarkozy and Cameron regard Obama fundamentally as a joke in that Obama defying all reason and practicality has faith in the UN and other feckless international bodies. Probably even more naive than Carter, Obama has little understanding that all nations properly pursue their own national interests. Obama being a socialist at heart is a dangerous utopian.

  • Cincinnatus

    As others have said, this isn’t surprising: France has a rich history of colonialism and foreign military adventurism.

    And as long as we stay out of it, I don’t care.

  • Cincinnatus

    As others have said, this isn’t surprising: France has a rich history of colonialism and foreign military adventurism.

    And as long as we stay out of it, I don’t care.


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