News / Europe

French Interventions Leave British Lamenting Loss of ‘Courageous Instinct’

Henry Ridgwell
As French troops deploy alongside African counterparts to try to quell the religious violence in the Central African Republic, military analysts say a new strategic order is emerging in Europe.  France is taking the lead in intervening in foreign conflicts, particularly in Africa - and British military chiefs have expressed fears that Britain has lost its nerve.

A unit of French troops code-named the ’Sangaris’ patrol Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic.

France sent 1,600 troops to the country last month to quell religious violence between Muslims and Christians.

Earlier last year, Paris sent 4,000 soldiers to Mali, after Islamist forces took over much of the north of the country.

France’s willingness to intervene in African conflicts is in its self-interest, says David Cadier of the London School of Economics’ IDEAS policy institute.

“We do not want an Afghanistan in Africa.  This is why sometimes, in French strategic circles, the expression ‘Sahelistan’ has been used.  If you have no government, you have no security guarantees that you will not let terrorist groups install bases, training camps in Africa, in central Africa, in northern Africa - in other words, at the gates of Europe and of France in particular," said Cadier.

France’s increasingly assertive role in global security contrasts with ally and neighbor Britain.

Last August, Britain shocked its allies after parliament voted against taking part in any military strikes on Syria, following claims that President Bashar al- Assad had used chemical weapons against civilians.

In a speech last month, the British Chief of Defense Staff General Sir Nicholas Houghton said his country had become skeptical about projecting force around the world.

“I have recently observed with some admiration the relative ability of French forces to operate with the mindset of aggressive risk management. We must be careful as a society and as a professional military not to lose our courageous instinct since it is one of the things which keeps us in a class-apart," said Houghton.

Britain was the United States’ main ally in the 2003 invasion of Iraq - a war that was deeply unpopular at home.

At the end of this year British troops will complete their withdrawal from Afghanistan after 13 years of fighting and nearly 450 fatalities. Polls show the public remains skeptical of what has been achieved - with British commanders warning the Taliban are poised to regain territory after NATO troops leave.

Those conflicts, together with military spending cuts, have left Britain fatigued by foreign intervention, says David Cadier.

“What is happening is a growing reluctance in terms of accepting risk and casualties.  And France is somehow frustrated by the lack of strategic support on the part of other Europeans," he said.

In a speech last September, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said France would adapt to changing strategic challenges.

"France will remain a global player, and provided that it manages to regain its economic margin and competitiveness, it will remain a 'power of influence.'  "France is a powerful state. "It has an undisputed international status, and the resources to meet the challenges of the new world," said Fabius.

But one month into France’s deployment in the Central African Republic, polls show support among the French public is falling fast, down from 51 percent in December to 41 percent this week.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Srebrenica Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Dr. S. Roe from: Canada
January 06, 2014 9:15 PM
Britain has not lost its nerve... it never had a nerve to begin with... what happened to Britain is - Islam... the BBC, its chief propaganda ministry, has become indistinguishable from Al Jazeera... the British "alliance" with the USA has so deteriorated that the US actively spies on Number 10... its sad to see such a precipitous decay...

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs