Macron: Swallowing toads in Africa and plucking daisy leaves in Ukraine

Macron: Swallowing toads in Africa and plucking daisy leaves in Ukraine

During the week two great friends and brothers left us, Alexis Texier, Chilean, a fellow fighter in those fateful days of frontal combat against the civil-military dictatorship commanded by Pinochet. Likewise, Roberto Cirilo Perdía, a Montonero leader who helped me take the first steps in clandestine life in those intense 70s and 80s of the last century, passed away to immortality. Perdía was a teacher, supportive, fraternal, consistent until the last day, one of those revolutionaries who never gave up. He was of a complete proof integrity that we would wish for the young people who join the fight today. Alexis and Roberto. To victory. Always. We shall win!

In recent days, France and its president Emmanuel Macron have wanted to gain special prominence in the confrontation against Russia by doing and saying things that border on irrationality rarely seen. It seems that French foreign policy has begun to be built from unusual perversities and dilettantes in a country that was once considered a pillar of Western culture and civilization. In the diplomatic world, it is known that President Sarkozy made France play a decisive role in the aggression against Libya (which ended with the assassination of Muammar Gaddafi), only due to personal frustrations that led him to an uncontrollable hatred based on marital problems, which he had attributed to actions of the Libyan leader.

Given this situation, it is now valid to ask what President Macron’s motivations could be for making public his animosity towards Russia and his interest in leading a European crusade against Moscow. It seems that in this case, the reasons are not as mundane as in the previous one, however, the anger of the French president is understandable when observing that the former colonial power that he currently leads is fading under his mandate.

He said it himself in March of last year, during a visit to Gabon, that “the era of ‘French Africa’ is over,” regretting that his country is still seen as interfering in the internal affairs of African nations. When he made this statement, just over a year had passed since the start of Russia’s special military operation (SMO) in Ukraine.

Could it be said that the SMO was the cause of the recent debacle of French power in Africa? It is difficult to give a definitive answer in this sense, but there is no doubt that this fact has had a relevant influence on the decision of the African States to distance themselves from France, which is nothing more than another expression of the structural crisis of Western hegemony over the planet, especially when, in the opposite direction, an increasing number of countries on that continent are approaching Russia and also China. It is worth remembering that with the entry of Ethiopia and Egypt into the BRICS, the African continent added three members to that organization, more than Europe and America, which only have one and only below Asia, which has five. In such a way that the prominence of Africa in the new world that is being born is of undoubted relevance.

Most African countries refused to join the global blockade that the West plotted against Russia after the SMO. More than that, Mali and Burkina Faso demanded Paris to withdraw its military forces from their territories, given their total ineffectiveness in the fight against terrorism that had been cited as the reason for their presence in the region. In June last year, Mali’s Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop stated unequivocally that his country “does not want human rights to be instrumentalized or politicized, since they are not the prerogative of any country or civilization” and added: “It is surprising that some countries, who have practiced slavery or colonization, today they are the ones who teach others about human rights.”

The West’s economic interest in the region is more than evident. In particular, recently the countries of the Sahel (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger) have gained special relevance due to the great wealth they keep in their soil and subsoil: Niger has between 5% and 7% of grade uranium, of highest degree in the world and globally the fifth largest reserve. Mali has large reserves of lithium, bauxite, iron ore, gold, manganese and limestone. Chad has water, a particularly valuable asset in that part of the world.

The changes in government led by young anti-colonial soldiers and defenders of the sovereignty of their countries have displaced leaders established in power thanks to the support of the metropolises, changing the face of the region and to some extent, of all of Africa. The threats from Paris in response to the decision of the new governments to expel the European military have been responded to with the agreement of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger to move towards advanced integration mechanisms that include economic, financial and even security and defense cooperation.

Among the antecedents of these countries, in addition to a common colonial past, it is worth highlighting that at some point in their recent history they had indigenous socialist governments that were brutally fought and destroyed by the interference of the metropolis in alliance with the United States that now, of opportunistically , it seeks to blame all of Africa’s problems on France, in order to open a space that gives it presence and relevance in the Africa of the future.

Likewise, the three countries have been attacked by forces linked to terrorism embodied in Al Qaeda and ISIS that have filtered through Mali’s northern border with Libya, following the NATO-led assault against Muammar Gaddafi. On the other hand, the obligation of these countries to use the CFA franc currency is an expression of the colonial control that France still exercises in the region. This currency is controlled by the French treasury, 50% of the monetary reserves must be placed in that country at the same time that all coins and banknotes that remain linked to the euro are minted in the metropolis.

Protests against the CFA, called “the last colonial currency” have grown in recent years, as an expression of the rejection of French colonial control over the finances of fourteen African countries. Consequently, calls for the end of the CFA expose, perhaps like no other fact, the repudiation of the French colonial system.

On the contrary, the agreements of African countries with China and Russia are proceeding at accelerated rates. A visit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to Africa in February last year made clear that ties established by the Soviet Union and maintained by Russia make a difference in the way the West relates to the continent. After that meeting, Russia supplied grain, fertilizers and fuel to Mali while Lavrov thanked that country for its votes at the UN against the glorification of Nazism.

The African people do not forget that in the last half century they counted on the unrestricted multilateral support of the Soviet Union, even in the military field, to shake off colonialism, giving continuity to cooperation in the difficult task of becoming independent countries. More recently, Russia has shackled itself to that policy. Russian military contingents advise African countries to train the military and help them in the fight against terrorism.

It is something that neither France nor the United States can do, knowing that they have granted financing, weapons and training to these terrorist groups that have grown under their shelter in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and other countries. As some African leaders say: “You can’t be part of the solution when you are part of the problem.”

France has acted in Africa based on its interest in exerting political influence to guarantee its economic interests, in particular the production of uranium that fuels its energy production plants and which it obtains at low cost in Mali. Of course, its actions have been protected by its membership in NATO, serving the global interests of this military terrorist organization that seeks to strengthen the maintenance of Western hegemony.

Hence, its loss of influence not only affects the French nation, but also the entire bloc. The concatenation of events and their succession speak for themselves. In addition to Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, Chad is moving away from Paris and towards Russia. This country, together with Mauritania, are France’s last reserves in the Sahel. But, going further, if this grouping is taken as a whole, and Chad continues its distancing from Paris, the blow against France could be definitive, especially if Mauritania followed suit.

In a regional logic, it is valid to say that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), an instrument under colonial control that has almost 400 million inhabitants and 5,112,903 km², and which had 15 members, is today in open crisis. 4 countries are suspended and of them, three have left permanently Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. The fourth, Guinea, is also very likely to leave the organization. It could be said that, despite this, the majority remain, but it should be known that the three who left and the fourth suspended, make up 3,000,000 km², of the total 5,112,903 km², that is, 60%.

In the background, there is an intention to give it a unique character and universalize Western culture as if the West were the whole world. The former president of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo said it differently: “Western democracy has failed to function adequately in Africa, since it was imposed by the colonizers”. The former Nigerian president was more explicit: “The exercise of Western-type democracy has failed on the African continent because, with that political model, the opinion of the majority of the population is ignored,” highlighting that such democracy constitutes “an rule of a few people over all the people, and these few people are the representatives only of a part of the people, not the full representatives of all the people.”

In this context, instead of Western liberal democracy, Obasanjo believed that “Afrocentric democracy” should be applied on the continent, different from the Western democratic system, since said system had nothing to do with the history and culture of the peoples of the continent. He concluded by stating that: “The fragility and inconsistency of liberal democracy as it is practiced derives from its history, content, context and practice”, which is why it should “question its performance in the West”.

It will be very difficult for Europe – due to its conviction of being a garden surrounded by jungle as Josep Borrell stated – High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy – can accept a multicultural, multiethnic, and multipolar world. Much less that their concept of democracy is questioned and called into question.

But the new leaders of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger Assimi Goita, Ibrahim Traoré and Abdourahamane Tiani respectively, have understood the situation; they have learned from their past and from the mistakes made by some of their predecessors like Kwame Nkrumah and Thomas Sankaraand they realized that Pan-Africanism “must be more than a theory contained in best-selling books or hidden in speeches to please the crowds.”

Now, these new leaders are demonstrating strategic intelligence and have understood that the main alliance must be between the military and the people so that they become active subjects of the political management of the State. But they have gone further, they are building common defense and security mechanisms as stipulated in the Constitutive Charter of the Alliance of Sahel States initially formed by the three countries. Their capacity and vision of the future has led them to produce radical changes, including choosing their allies and charting a different course on the international stage. To that extent, they have driven out the French, while establishing strong relations with Russia.

Washington and especially Paris, “bleed from the wound.” It is the only way to explain the strategic stupidity summarized by Macron and his cronies, assuming that they are going to achieve in Ukraine what they have lost in Africa. Hence the announcement to send troops to fight in that country. Not content with the death of dozens of mercenaries who, assuming that the “allons enfant de la patrie” authorizes them to wage war against any people in the world and forgetting the defeat of Napoleon at the gates of Moscow in 1812, Macron intends to escalate French participation in Ukraine. It is worth noting that Napoleon, who was a great strategist, not a mediocre banker like Macron trying to play war, failed miserably in his attempt to subdue Russia.

But Macron is not the only incapable dreamer in France. To satisfy his leader, the chief of staff of the country’s ground forces, General Pierre Schill, stated that “the French army is ready to fight with Russia.” For this mission they have 15 thousand men although they could concentrate 20 thousand.

The way to do it was explained by the French colonel and “expert” Vincent Arbarétier, on the French television channel LCI. According to him, there are two scenarios: The first is to concentrate this contingent of French troops along the Dnieper River and the second on the border with Belarus. In that situation, if Russia does not stop, “it risks coming under our fire, including unconventional fire.” In his opinion, Russia will not consider the very fact of the deployment of French troops as a provocation but will be forced to negotiate on French conditions. If it weren’t for hearing it, I would have said that it was implausible that an academy official would have expressed such idiocy.

Will this “expert” know that Russia has almost a million troops under arms and 2 million in reserve and that France only has 205,000 active and 35,000 in reserve? Do you also know that Russia has a mobilization potential of up to 71 million combatants and that France could only mobilize 30 million? (all figures from Global Firepower 2022, an institution very far from Putin and Russia).

And if it is about “unconventional fire” (NOTE: this was mentioned by the “expert” Colonel Arbarétier, not by President Putin or by Generals Shogun or Gerasimov), Russia has 5,580 nuclear warheads and France 280. In addition, Russia has hypersonic missiles of the Zircon, Kinzhal and Avangard type while France does not have any and does not have the technology to intercept them, so any target on French territory would disappear in 3 minutes. That is the maximum time that a war between France and Russia would last.

One could understand Macron’s dismay over his defeat in Africa, but it is difficult to understand his willingness to make his country disappear in less than 3 minutes just to be famous by serving the interests of the United States.

Sergio Rodríguez Gelfenstein
Sergio Rodríguez Gelfenstein
A Venezuelan international relations expert, Gelfenstein was previously Director of the International Relations of the Presidency of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, his country’s ambassador to Nicaragua and an advisor for international politics for TELESUR. He has written numerous books, among them “China in the XXI Century – the awakening of a giant”, published in several Latin American countries. You can follow him on Twitter: @sergioro0701

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June 2024