Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ayrault: More "Sobriety"

Prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has warned several of his ministers that they'd better demonstrate a little more "sobriety" in their management of the media. Concertation is the watchword. This is no accident. Hollande clearly believes that one of Sarkozy's fundamental errors was that he spoke too loudly and too often. He will underscore the contrast between himself and his predecessor by speaking softly and--presumably--carrying a big stick. So he held firm on his commitment to withdraw French troops from Afghanistan while speaking rather softly about the move so as not to ruffle too many feathers.

To be sure, some have said that he didn't actually hold firm, that he waffled on leaving about half the French contingent behind as "trainers" and will contribute to a fund for training Afghan police and soldiers. This sort of quibbling misses the point, which is that France's commitment to the Afghan war was more symbolic than substantive (with no disrespect to the real sacrifices of French soldiers, but the French contingent amounted to about 2% of the NATO force), and its withdrawal is equally symbolic. Hollande is stating firmly that he, and most French voters, believe that the mission has lost its purpose and should be ended. He deserves credit for acting on an accurate judgment of the situation.

1 comment:

Durando said...

French soldiers deploy "for France," so any deployment is symbolic but the word isn't sufficient to describe their sacrifice for a country that, by and large, doesn't value their service and, furthermore, contents itself with navel-gazing pacifism.