Wednesday, 10 November 2004

Double Standards

This one's about the Ivory Coast, France, and Global Politics.

FRom CNN :
Saturday's violence began when government warplanes struck French positions at Brobo, near the northern rebel-held town of Bouake, in the afternoon, U.N. military spokesman Philippe Moreux said.

Eight French soldiers were killed and 23 others wounded, said Defense Ministry spokesman Jean-Francois Bureau in Paris. An American citizen was also killed in the raid, the French presidency said, without providing details.

A ninth French soldier died of his wounds, said France's U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere before the emergency council meeting. Council diplomats said the American who was killed was believed to have worked for a non-governmental organization and been at the French base.

U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Ergibe Boyd in Abidjan said they've been told of the death by the French but haven't confirmed it. She said the American was likely a missionary, since there is no U.S. military or diplomatic presence in the area.

In response to the strike, French infantry destroyed the Russian-made Sukhoi fighter jets on the ground at an airport in Yamoussoukro, 75 miles to the south, French military spokesman Col. Henry Aussavy said. The jets were believed to be the ones that carried out the strike.

"Our forces responded in a situation of legitimate defense," Bureau, the spokesman, said. "Now the priority is the immediate end of combat."

France deployed three Mirage fighter jets to nearby Gabon, French military spokesman Col. Henry Aussavy said. France also ordered two additional companies to Ivory Coast.
The forces that commanded the airstrike could be forgiven for believing that there would be no comeback. Just look at what France has been saying about US "Unilateralism" over Iraq. Or take a look at what the UN Peacekeepers did in Bosnia - they let massacres occur simply because they were under orders "not to get involved". An "accidentally-on-purpose" strike on French Peacekeepers would send a powerful message, or so they thought.

But there is a double standard at work, one the Ivory Coast military didn't understand. A "hyper-puissance" like the US always works under the spotlight of a "hyper-critical" (and hypocritical) media glare of publicity. Second- or Third- rank powers like France can do a lot more in the way of direct action without being criticised over-much. They don't have to wait for a UN resolution, they can go in and de-fang the attackers immediately. What's more, they struck the aircraft on the ground, causing minimum casualties yet permanently removing the threat.

The French government must ask itself a question though : if they hadn't been so hyper-critical of the US and others in the past, would their soldiers still be alive today? Still, I'm sorry to say that I doubt the Aristocrats on the Quai D'Orsai care all that much. But the French military does, that I'm sure.

But at least one lesson has been learned, sort of. Continuing the CNN report:
After nightfall, state TV ran a nonstop crawl across screens, asking for restraint: "We are asking all patriots and Ivorians to not attack, and to not attack the property, of French people or the international community."

A senior member of Ivory Coast's government -- Sebastien Dano Djeje, Cabinet member for National Reconciliation -- said the bombing of the French position in the north "was a mistake. We didn't aim to hit them."

But then he questioned whether the government air force was really behind the strike. "But what proves it was Ivorian planes? We have to do an investigation," he told The Associated Press.
The old "OBL gambit". That tactic didn't work so well for the Taliban.
Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa producer, had been the pride of France's former colonial empire for prosperous decades after independence in 1960. A downturn in commodities prices and political change in the 1990s helped bring instability, and the country suffered its first-ever military coup in 1999.

Turmoil and regional, ethnic and political hatreds have reigned since. Civil war erupted in September 2002. A power-sharing deal brokered by the French ended major fighting in 2003, but otherwise failed to take hold.
Can the cries "It's all about Chocolate" be too far in the future?

1 comment:

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