Friday, November 26, 2004

Hypocrisy du Jour

"No blood for chocolate! No blood for chocolate! No blood for
chocolate!

Where are the mass protests in the streets of the world's capitals
against France's military intervention in the Ivory Coast?

This month, French peacekeepers in the former French colony launched a
pre-emptive assault against the Ivorian air force. They also
interferred with the internal politics of the troubled nation and
sought regime change -- or at least they have been accused of both by
President Laurent Gbagbo.

They acted without authorization by the United Nations Security
Council.

They violated both the UN Charter and the terms of the peacekeeping
resolution that established their specific mission in the West African
nation.

The Security Council did sanction their attacks after the fact.
Nonetheless, the French acted unilaterally, and only sought and
received a UN cover story later. There wasn't even a coalition of the
willing. No Brits, Aussies, Poles or Dutch to help out; just French
troops, jets, helicopters and armoured personnel carriers.

While the French have achieved their military goals quickly and
easily, they have failed to stop the destruction of much of the I.C.'s
infrastructure.

They have been powerless to end a Muslim insurgency that controls half
of Ivory Coast's territory. They have stood by while schools and
libraries were torched, failed to prevent widespread looting and have
even fired on civilian mobs twice, killing as many as 60 Ivorians. And
they have hardly been welcomed as liberators by the locals.

Tens of thousands of Ivorians wielding machetes, clubs and long-
handled axes marched through the streets of Abidjan, the financial
capital, last week shouting "French go home!" and "Everybody get your
Frenchman!" as they ransacked French-owed businesses and residences.

Tens of thousands of immigrant Ivorians have been turned into
refugees, fleeing into neighbouring Liberia, Guinea, Burkina Faso and
Ghana.

Who knows, perhaps we'll also soon learn that some fabulous national
museum containing world heritage treasures -- yet a museum no one in
the West, outside of a handful of archaeologists, had heard ever of --
was picked clean thanks to French neglect.

All of this was done in the name of protecting French commercial
interests in the IC's lucrative cocoa trade (and timber, mines and
oil).

So where are the campus radicals, the smug Western intellectuals and
the preening pundits with their accusations of blood for chocolate?

Where is their accusation that the whole thing has just been a giant
conspiracy to ensure French President Jacques Chirac's buddies in the
chocolate industry have all the cheap cocoa butter they want?

There has been no media talk of quagmire, even though the French have
been involved in the I.C.'s civil war for nearly three years. The
French military intervention proceeded for the first 17 months without
any UN authorization whatever. And the Chirac government has
repeatedly escalated its troop commitment from 500 in 2002, to 2,500
in 2003, to 4,000 earlier this year, to 5,000 today. And the situation
only worsens.

Where is their outrage at the inability of French forces to secure
instantly and perfectly every block of the Ivory Coast's teeming
cities? Where are the BBC interviews with Secretary-General Kofi Annan
declaring the French adventure "illegal," as he did concerning the
Anglo-American invasion of Iraq? Where are the letters from Annan to
Chirac entreating him not to quell the insurgency or crush the forces
fighting French troops for fear of provoking worse from the locals,
the way he cautioned the Americans against pacifying Falluja.

Let me be emphatic: The French have done exactly what they should have
in Ivory Coast. They destroyed the five-aircraft Ivorian air force
after it had bombed a French base, apparently by mistake, and killed
nine soldiers. They fired on an ugly Ivorian throng only after the mob
threatened to attack the country's largest airport, which the French
had secured so jets could whisk thousands of French nationals to
safety.

What's galling is the way the French have done it all without any
deference to the multilateral consensus-building they so smugly
demanded of the Americans and British last year when the boots were on
the other feet.

Doubly galling is the silence -- even complicity -- of the UN and the
international community, which last year so sanctimoniously and
vocally obstructed the invasion of Iraq.

No other nation has inserted itself militarily into African affairs in
the post-colonial period more than France -- nearly two dozen times --
including on behalf of the murderous Jean-Bedel Bokassa, who
proclaimed himself emperor of the Central African Republic, and in
support of the Hutu government of Rwanda, whose supporters butchered
half a million or more Tutsis in 1994.

The truth is, international opposition to the Iraq war (including
French opposition) was prompted as much by bitter anti-Americanism and
irrational hatred of George W. Bush as it was by any true concern for
peace or multilateralism. "

Read the whole thing.

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