France’s Diverse Identity: Beyond Western Connotations

As we celebrate July 14, Pascal Boniface reflects on the shortcomings of Macron’s diplomacy, and urges him not to be content with being the auxiliary of the United States.

The July 14 celebrations are often an opportunity for France to stage itself and display its greatness in the eyes of the rest of the world. But this year, it is rather the image of a broken down and declining France that dominates. Judgment from the outside world is severe as a result of a triple factor. Global geopolitical developments, failing strategic choices and internal problems that undermine France’s image.

France had barely emerged from the pension reform sequence when riots and looting broke out following the death of young Nahel, killed by a policeman. They have provided televisions around the world with shocking images of a country delivered to violence and subject to many debates on the deep and unacceptable divisions of French society. Two state visits canceled (UK, Germany), it’s messy.

Too military-security approach for Africa

The choice to give a primarily military-security approach to the country’s African policy, neglecting the societal aspects, has made France unpopular on a continent where it thought its influence was essential. Accusing Russian propaganda cannot exempt us from thinking about the reasons for the failure if we want to bounce back.

The war in Ukraine has swept away the very foundations of our geopolitical DNA: good relations with Moscow to broaden our room for maneuver and the establishment of European strategic autonomy. The ties of France and the Western world with Russia are severed, and for a long time. While in November 2019 Emmanuel Macron presented NATO in a state of brain death, it is stronger than ever, and it is now rather European strategic autonomy projects that appear to be in mortal danger.

European countries believe that they would endanger the unity of the Western world and that only Washington’s guarantee is a guarantee of security against Moscow. The French posture “allied, but not aligned” is not understood. France is forced to keep a low profile for having been guilty of advocating dialogue with Moscow, and the Baltic countries and Poland appear to be leading the way in Europe. President Macron even apologized for the harshness of Jacques Chirac’s remarks towards them before the 2003 Iraq war and showed himself to be more Atlanticist than Joe Biden by speaking out in favor of Ukraine’s membership. to NATO.

The summit on the new global financial pact

However, it is not by practicing this type of Atlanticist one-upmanship that France will be able to regain a more enviable position. It is not by flagellating itself and renouncing the fundamentals of the Fifth Republic that it will rebound. The return to a Fourth Republic-type diplomacy – Atlanticist alignment and the South seen as a danger – will provide us with few opportunities to shine and many to sink further.

France is a Western country, but cannot be reduced to this strategic identity alone. It is also a global nation. At a time when the rift between the West and “the rest” grows ever wider and ominous, it has a role to play in serving as a bridge between the two, as it has done regularly since the establishment of the Fifth Republic. In this respect, the summit on the new global financial pact is a success. At a time when some want to believe that the new geopolitical division is that between democracies and dictatorships, could France not relaunch the debate on the enlargement of the UN Security Council, a central subject for the three Brics democracies , South Africa, Brazil and India? This implies not making our policy dependent on the search for Western or European cohesion.

At a time when Washington is seeking to establish a global containment of China, France must refuse to serve as an auxiliary to the United States in its struggle with Beijing for world supremacy. The Europeans and France must, vis-à-vis China, have their own policy and defend their specific interests. Let’s avoid the spiral of tensing up China by following a policy of containment: tensions that would justify strengthening this same anti-Beijing system by provoking additional tension in China. This dangerous drift is at work and it must be prevented from continuing.

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