chapter  5
20 Pages

Into the Twenty-First Century: Liberal War, Global Governance, and French Military Cooperation

French security policy in Africa is not a response to an environment of crisis alone. It

also creates and constitutes that environment. In other words, French security policy

must also be conceived as the construction and the reproduction of social conditions

that are themselves fundamental factors of the same instability it seeks to prevent. The crucial involvement of France in African military coups d’état and wars, its

role in propping up cruel dictatorships and the repression of social movements of

protest, and so on are well-documented. It is now more or less officially admitted that France instrumentalized African states and armies during the Cold War for its

own purposes and interests. As a colonel of the Departement of Military Cooperation

and Defence (Direction de la coopération militaire et de défense – hereafter DCMD) readily admitted:

The acknowledgment and the analysis stay at a superficial level. The abuses remain legitimized by the “necessities” of the Cold War. Furthermore, the colonel’s claim reflects the very strong belief in French military circles that the end of the Cold War and its related victorious melody (see Chapter 3) brought a new era of ethical military intervention and cooperation. Moreover, there is a widespread belief that

this time “France will make it right” and “France will bring peace and security” in the name of partnership, fraternity, liberty, equality, and justice. However, as I argue in this chapter, the so-called errors of the past have not been “learned.” That is, as good as French intentions might be – whether they are real or not – current

French security policy in sub-Saharan Africa will most likely fail and will certainly perpetuate the marginalization of sub-Saharan Africa for at least two reasons. First,

the conceptualization of French security policy as a response – and only a response –

to an African environment in “crisis” misrepresents the factors of instability and thus can only lead to maladapted solutions and to characterizations of barbarism and the

like. Secondly, the multinationalization and regionalization of peace operations will likely worsen things by multiplying the factors of instability and war, by eliminating any French governmental accountability, and by removing further from public view

and reach French involvement and role in the marginalization of Africa.