Friday, January 20, 2006

Chirac's new doctrine

Chirac expounds a new nuclear doctrine, to widespread criticism in the rest of Europe, albeit limited in Britain. 

France Inter had its commenters on the subject both Thursday evening and Friday morning. Negative reaction seems justified in view of one passage in the statement that seems to envisage a first strike against non-nuclear states. In Le Figaro's version:
Toutefois, «les dirigeants d'Etats qui auraient recours à des moyens terroristes» ou «qui envisageraient d'utiliser, d'une manière ou d'une autre, des armes de destruction massive» sont prévenus : «Ils s'exposeraient à une réponse ferme et adaptée de notre part», réponse qui pourrait être «conventionnelle», mais aussi «d'une autre nature».
This was a point that I think Paul Quilès of the PS, former Defence minister, made, also on France Inter Friday morning. As Dominique Bromberger remarks:
Même les Etats-Unis de George Walker Bush n’avaient pas décidé d’anéantir Kaboul et Kandahar après les attaques du 11 septembre 2001.
Reaction in Britain was largely from the Financial Times, as the BBC noted, Friday, as well as Le Monde.

Chirac, seeking to spread the cost (about 10% of France's military budget), also mooted the idea of extending the 'nuclear umbrella' to European allies. Apart from the question of whether these allies want this protection, issues of command and control would also seem quite tricky.

The front page of Saturday's paper edition of the FT promised a couple more articles, but they had mysteriously vanished from the inside pages. I found them on the website: Nuclear tango forces new US strategy; Chirac speech not expected to hit Iran talks.
Emmanuel had a post notable for its sardonic humour (see his footnote) and the way comments initially turned to the riots in the banlieues.


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