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Afghanistan. A French general “opens it”, the debate opens… finally!

DesportesCid-Fr0909.gif(BRUSSELS2) General Vincent Desportes, head of the CID, the Joint Defense College (which trains senior officers), “blew the valve”, in Le Monde dated July 2: “We cannot wage war against the morale of soldiers” by dismantling certain official myths surrounding the intervention in Afghanistan. As a result, it allows the debate to be opened.

Four myths shattered

General Desportes dismantles four myths:

1. The "situation is not good", "she has never been this worse".

2. The method is not good. “LThe fact of having changed the way of fighting has not yet borne fruit in a clear way“, “The mode of action “win hearts and minds” attracts more and more criticism. “The McChrystal Doctrine Does Not Work or is No Longer Accepted".

3. The strategy must be drastically revised. “And there's only one option left – according to Desportes: that of Vice-President Joseph Biden, who says that America has other strategic interests than Afghanistan, that it is trapped there by an endless war, and that we must get out, by reducing the troops with a capacity for one-off strikes against Al-Qaeda. (…) LThe problem will be to reconcile the strategy with those who implement it. It will also probably be necessary to postpone the date of withdrawal from Afghanistan.".

4. It all depends on Washington. There is no international coalition but a US strategy. "This is an American war. When you are a 1% shareholder, you don’t have a voice.”

The debate begins in France

General Desportes is familiar with iconoclastic speeches (read on Secret Défense : The General Desportes calls for “not to dream American”). But this speech, just after the rant and the ousting of McChrystal (1), is particularly frank, direct and assertive. It should be noted that these are not off-air comments reported (as with Rolling Stones) but a proper interview, a few days before the general's departure (in retirement). But if the point can be debated, this intervention has at least one merit: opening, in France, the debate on the French presence in Afghanistan, a debate which has until now been barely outlined and often avoided unlike others country: Netherlands, United Kingdom, Poland (2)…

The Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, Edouard Guillaud, spoke of a “fault” and about “irresponsible“… But the socialist deputy for Ille-et-Vilaine, Jean-Michel Boucheron, a specialist in defense issues (he is rapporteur for the defense budget in the Assembly) has a completely different opinion. These questions asked by Desportes “cannot be dismissed out of hand” he explains. “The idea that a foreign army can win hearts and minds is naive.” And to add: "The inevitable withdrawal from Afghanistan must indeed be the subject of political preparation”.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

Read also:

(1) McChrystal shoot Biden on sight. The French, too, take it for their rank!

(2) The withdrawal of Polish troops from Afghanistan is no longer taboo To be specified: The candidate for the presidency of the Civic platform (Liberal), Komorovski, promised on the eve of a decisive second round (the elections take place on Sunday), a withdrawal within two years (so by 2012). In an election that promises to be close, the left has, in fact, set this condition (the withdrawal from Afghanistan) for support for the candidacy of the liberal candidate. His opponent Kaczynski mentions a withdrawal within 5 years of his mandate. This is the second time that the Afghan question has become a decisive electoral issue in a European country (after the Netherlands).

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).