Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Andrew Bishop, "Sarkozy's moment as commander-in-chief," ISN Security Watch, June 10, 2008.

[Canadians might be surprised to learn that France's decision to send something less than 1,000 fresh troops to Afghanstan comes at a time when Sarkozy is planning severe cutbacks to the French military. The reaction he faces is predictably similar to what would happen if the US attempted to reduce its extraordinary economic dependence on military spending. (See "Too many mousetraps, not enough mice." But Canada's FM is huffing and puffing to catch up to the failing bandwagon. -jlt]

French President Nicolas Sarkozy's March announcement that he would send up to 1,000 more troops to Afghanistan brought applause from the Americans and hisses from the French. To some, the move was Sarkozy's way of stressing that he was commander-in-chief of the French military, and the final decision would be his, for better or for worse.

For Jean-Paul Hébert, a military budget analyst and the head of the Paris-based Interdisciplinary Research Center on Strategic and Peace Studies, Sarkozy's recent announcement illustrates his lasting ambivalence toward the French military.

"On the one hand the new president has clearly decided to take defense issues in his hands," Hébert told ISN Security Watch. "But on the other, his famous lack of interest in military affairs is raising both doubts and fears about his ability to manage France's current strategic reorientation."


On 22 May, leading defense analyst Jean Guisnel penned a column entitled "The army's morale is at rock-bottom" after an internal investigation revealed that the average private's enthusiasm ranked 5.2 on a scale of one to ten.

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