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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs