More surprising even still was the selection of France as one of the key contributors to failed states, particularly in Africa. That's right, it turns out smug, sanctimonious, moralistic France -- which delighted so much in denouncing U.S. aggression in Iraq -- remains deeply involved in the affairs of its former African colonies. To an extent that would shame other former colonial powers, the French remain very active behind the scenes controlling who is in office so French companies can continue to exploit resources cheaply.
So much for France's sanctimony about hands-off Third World hotspots.
Five of the magazine's 12 most-failed states are former French colonies: Chad, Central African Republic, Guinea, Haiti and Ivory Coast. Niger (#19) "may well be the poorest country in the world. The government lacks any ability to provide services such as education and health care," and infant mortality and illiteracy are "rampant." The French, who continue to meddle in Niger's affairs, doubtless could help, but seem uninterested so long as the country remains a stable source of cheap uranium for French power plants.
Britain (which also must count five of its former colonies among the 12 worst regimes in the world) has a remarkably hands-free approach to its former empire. As do the former Cold War powers, the U.S. and Russia, when it comes to their old surrogates.
But according to Boubacar Boris Diop of South Africa's Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research, "France destabilizes and destroys the countries of Africa, as if nothing in the world had changed."
In the post-colonial era, France has asserted itself militarily in Africa no fewer than two dozen times, more than any other Western power. For instance, it sent troops to Ivory Coast in 2004, in part to protect the lucrative cocoa trade.
"No death for chocolate!" This doesn't make France worse than other Western nations, just undeserving of the ethical superiority it wraps itself in.
Friday, August 20, 2010
France's malignant influence
In today's National Post Lorne Gunter discusses the question of "who's to blame for failed states?" According to Foreign Policy magazine, the UN and France shoulder a large portion of the blame. I particularly loved Gunter's skewering of France, whose insufferable national smugness is a constant source of irritation: