Friday, December 03, 2004

'Expanded self-defense'

As much as I hate to say anything that might give aid and comfort to the American neo-conservatives... their criticisms of Jacques Chirac's integrity were correct. Chirac is a slimeball and always has been. Remember: back in 2002, he was in a run-off election against right-wing extremist Jean-Marie Le Pen. The left reluctantly voted for the center-right Chirac with the motto, "Vote for the crook, not the fascist." Former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards, who beat KKK leader David Duke under similiar circumstances in the early 90s, would've been proud.

So the neo-cons' criticisms of Chirac weren't exactly original and had less to do with any interest in Chirac or French society as such than with the French leader's opposition to the Iraq war they wanted so much.

Chirac opposed the Iraq invasion because of selfish interests. Bush wanted the Iraq invasion for selfish interests. The hypocrisy of the neo-cons' criticisms were that they claimed the former while refusing to recognize the latter. Opponents always act selfishly; our motives are always pure as the white snow.

Chirac was right about the war, even if it was for the wrong reasons. The neo-cons were right about Chirac, even if it was for the wrong reasons.

In watching how Chirac's government works, it's vaguely reassuring to know that the US isn't the only country to have corrupt hypocrites in charge.

French soldiers are in Cote d'Ivoire (West Africa) as part of a UN peacekeeping mission. Cote d'Ivoire was, for a long time, France's premier client state in Africa. The peacekeepers were in the country to mediate an uneasy truce between the government and northern rebels; both parties agreed to peacekeepers and both have since soured on the peacekeepers.

The Ivorian government re-started the civil war by bombing the rebel-controlled north. They also bombed a military base with French peacekeepers. Accidentally, said the Ivorian government; a claim believed by exactly no one. The French unwisely responded by destroying the Ivorian air force and by repressing an anti-French demonstration in the country's commercial capital Abidjan. The Ivorian government and its militia allies had long used French-bashing to whip xenophobic and nationalistic sentiment which naturally led to violence against French residents and French-owned businesses.

The repression of the anti-French marches has probably had the most lasting effect. There are unsubstantiated rumors that French soldiers fired on unarmed protesters in an unprovoked manner. Several Ivorians were left dead. Whether or not the 'unprovoked' and 'unarmed' parts are actually true is almost irrelevant; pro-government types believe it's true and act accordingly.

The French government justified these very un-peacekeeping-like actions very strangely. The French minister of defense said that in such situations, the French military reserved the right to use 'la légitime défense élargie.' A curious phrase that means 'expanded self-defense.'

I'm wondering what exactly is the substantive distinction between 'expanded self-defense' and President Bush's equally dubious doctrine of 'pre-emption.'


At 3:31 PM, Blogger Chippla Vandu said...

Power corrupts. Anyone who has power becomes corrupt to a certain extent. Were France as powerful as the United States, it will likely be the one leading pre-emptive strikes on a global scale.


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