Tuesday, July 8, 2008


The sharp criticism of the defense white paper by a group of military officers who signed themselves "Surcouf" appears to have nettled the Élysée. An investigation has been launched to ferret out the identity of the dissenting officers. Personal computers have been searched.

The investigation, which is being pursued by defense minister Hervé Morin but resisted by army chief of staff Georgelin, has been justified in the name of the devoir de réserve incumbent upon military officers and civil servants. One doesn't want a politicized and insubordinate military, of course, but one doesn't want an abject groveling military either. The "Surcouf critique" seemed to me a reasonable exercise of the right to dissent concerning matters upon which the writers claimed professional expertise (though of course it is difficult to judge the expertise of writers who must remain anonymous). In any case, the response strikes me as excessive.