Tuesday, November 17, 2015

What François did next

There is not much one can say about les événements on Friday in Paris that is not being said by many people in various forms. Immediately after President Hollande had spoken about an attack on the French state I wondered out loudly (i.e. on the much derided social media) whether he was now going to invoke NATO Article 5, which would be somewhat ironic, given France's historic ambivalence about that organization. To date he has not done so. Instead he has called for a meeting of the UN Security Council and has vowed to step up French attacks on ISIL. He has also proposed to extend the state of emergency for another three months and introduce some very sweeping reforms into the French Constitution. At present the only concrete proposal he has made is to have the right not to allow back "French citizens who also hold citizenship in another country ... if it's believed they are connected to terrorism", in itself not a very radical idea. What of French citizens who do not hold another citizenship but have gone to fight with ISIS?

I saw some discussion of whether France will invoke Article 5, mostly on the part of Americans who were wondering what President Obama's response will be if that happens, given his less than stellar performance at various press conferences since Friday. There is also a discussion of the alternatives in the Jerusalem Post. My own opinion is that, given France's ambivalent attitude to NATO throughout its history, Article 5 will not be invoked.

I wrote that yesterday but thought I'd not post till today though I did spend some time on other sites arguing just that - France will not invoke Article 5 as they will not want to have NATO fighting the battle.

Today it is clear: President Hollande is trying to use the EU though most probably he will require American fire power at some stage. But not through NATO. Oh no. That is not at all what France wants to see.

EurActiv tells us that France 'at war' inaugurates EU mutual defence clause, the one whose purpose it was to supplant NATO in defence matters. After all, who wants to be told endlessly that it was not the EU that kept peace in Western Europe all these decades but NATO, US troops and the nuclear umbrella?
President François Hollande said he will invoke the European Union's ‘mutual defence clause’ for the first time to combat the perpetrators of the Paris attacks, betting on EU support over NATO in the country's fight against the Islamic State.

Speaking on Monday (16 November) during a joint session of both houses of parliament in Versailles, Hollande said that "France is at war" and that the jihadist group is “not only an enemy of France but an enemy of Europe”.

Following the killing of 129 people on Friday (13 November), Hollande said that France is committed to “destroying” Islamic State.

In a surprise move, he told lawmakers that France will invoke article 42.7 of the EU Treaty during a meeting of EU defence ministers on Tuesday (17 November). The article “provides that when a state is attacked, all member states must bring their solidarity to address the aggression”, Hollande reminded.
Quite what that solidarity will consist of is not clear at this stage but it will be a famous victory (perhaps). It is possible that the various arrests that are being conducted in connection with les événements in Germany and Belgium and, soon, in other countries will be described as an example of Article 42.7 at work.

The story is picked up by EUObserver who also say
"The enemy is Daesh," he said, using the Arabic name for the Islamic State group.

"We shall not just contain it, but destroy it," he said, adding that France will "intensify its operations" in Syria following Monday's raids.

Hollande also wants to build "a large and unique coalition" against the terrorist group.
A coalition of the willing, in fact.
He announced that France has asked for a meeting and a resolution from the UN Security Council.

He also said that he will soon meet US and Russian presidents, Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin, "to join our forces and reach a conclusion that has been too long overdue."
Does that mean that the sale of Mistrals will go ahead after all?

So, not NATO but the UN Security Council and the EU with American and Russian lifting power and France in charge.

There are also reports of NATO and EU promising to work together though why that should be necessary, given that the EU member states who are likely to do anything are also members of NATO is unclear. But it makes everyone seem important.
NATO and the European Union must work closely to prevent more attacks like those in Paris, the head of the Western military alliance said on Monday, underscoring the risks of unconventional warfare such as cyber attacks and radicalism.

European officials are struggling to provide quick answers on how to counter the threat from Islamic State and other militant groups at a time of falling defense budgets, the lack of a common EU security policy and an overlap with NATO.

"We will redouble our efforts and work even more closely ... to counter the rise of extremism, which can inspire such horrific attacks here at home," said NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

Speaking alongside EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, Stoltenberg said NATO and the EU could no longer afford to develop parallel policies towards similar ends. They should work together "hand-in-hand".
This is not the first time France has tried to use a crisis to undermine NATO, push forward the EU and position herself as the lynchpin between Europe, the US and Russia (it used to be the Soviet Union). This time the stakes are very high, especially for France, who experienced the second organized terrorist attack in ten months.


  1. Can anyone, please, remind me, what the Parisans were busy with during the WWII (except for one truly brave general and a bunch of his fellows) and how it differs from what we can see today.

    1. I take it you are a little sceptical of the story usually presented in films of the entire French population being in the Resistance?

    2. I take it you are a little sceptical of the story usually presented in films of the entire French population being in the Resistance?

      I think most of them joined the Resistance in 1946.

    3. And there I was under the impression that at the very least every pretty girl in chic outfits was in the Resistance.

  2. Someone, somewhere is determined to turn this into a beneficial crisis. Guy Verhofstadt was first out of the blocks.


    with the call for a European Coast Guard. A pox on all of them.

    1. They are certainly trying to turn this into a beneficial crisis and even Sir Hugh Orde is joining in but, as ever, it is not going to work. Not the way they want it to work. What it might do is weaken NATO.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.