Monday, 9 December 2013

Les Casques Bleus

Living in a foreign land (in this case, France) can provide one a glimpse into the way others see the world and the events occurring in it.  For example, over the summer, as the US President painted himself into a corner in an ill-advised stance on red lines and Syria, it was to say the least ironic as the one ally Mr Obama found among the Western powers was the erstwhile socialist president of France, Francois Hollande.  The French people were somewhat less enthusiastic about the affair - there was a series of "manifestations" and rebukes to M Hollande, and ultimately, when a back-door was discovered, the two were able to escape any serious damage - either real or political.  At least for the time being.

Fast forward to December, and the events that are unfolding in the Central African Republic.  Apparently, much like Rwanda a couple of decades ago, militias are committing atrocities - killing civilians, chopping off limbs, emptying villages.

The French government has decided to send 1600 or so soldiers to the region - these are countries that in the past were French-controlled, so there is a bit of guilt mixed with some nostalgia, I suppose - to help to end the violence.  The opposition is lining up, with questions about "n'est-elle plus qu'une simple compagnie de CRS de l'Oncle Sam?" (is this more than a simple clean up job for Uncle Sam?) and implications that the whole thing is a "blanc-seing de l'ONU" (UN whitewashing)

For once, it's someone besides the US playing world cop.

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