Tuesday, November 28, 2006

To your tents, O Israel!

French president Jacques Chirac argues in today's Guardian that "Europe must shoulder its share of the Nato burden". This might be surprising to American politicians and commentators who, in 2003, threw tantrums over France's opposition to the Iraq war, but is really quite representative of French defence thinking.

France has, in its Fourth and Fifth Republic incarnation, been the leading proponent for strong and independent European military armament and position in the world. France was, in 2003, actually more 'gung ho' and in favour of military intervention in Iraq, than most other European nations*. In order to emphasise its independence (and perhaps also out of eccentricity), the French government opposed the Bush administrations rush to war. This nuance of the disagreement didn't of course matter to right wing American politicians and media who exploited deep seated Anglo-Saxon dislike of France to discredit Chirac's arguments and policy.

There are two competing defence strategies in Europe with France and Britain representing each position. France, favouring independence, has developed its own nuclear weapons, tanks and fighter planes. Britain on the other hand has aligned itself completely behind the US, abandoning its military independence and relies on the US for its nuclear deterrent.

France's position has, in my opinion, been strengthened by the Iraq war. More Europeans echo the sentiments of Israel when they abandoned King Rehoboam in 1. Kings 12, saying:
What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David. So Israel departed unto their tents.
More Europeans are today rejecting American military leadership, in particular the 'House of Bush', looking instead to their own tents.

It is in this light that Chiracs words of: "A stronger European defence, more effective and more certain of its assets, enhances alliance capability as a whole and contributes to global equilibrium," should be seen.

* Britain doesn't really count.


Post a Comment

<< Home