• 6 décembre 2015

We need much more than war speeches. We need political action

We need much more than war speeches. We need political action

1024 614 Dominique de Villepin

 – Dans une interview en anglais donnée à The Guardian, Dominique de Villepin critique la rhétorique guerrière des pays occidentaux, à laquelle il souhaiterait voir se substituer une volonté politique plus efficace  –

Air strikes can help weaken Isis, but no one would consider it wise today to send troops to the Middle East. Because we know that after Syria and Iraq, we will have to do the same in Libya, in Nigeria and Chad, in Somalia, maybe tomorrow in the Gulf states or in central Asia. The logic of war would imprison us in lasting military occupation of large parts of the world, without any guarantee of success. Has any military intervention since 2001 been a political success? Afghanistan? Iraq? Libya?

We need much more than war speeches. We need political action. We need the world to stand united in the fight against terrorism. Not the western world, but the whole world. That was my belief in 2003, when France opposed the war in Iraq, and this is still my belief today.

First, we need the Muslim world to stand at our side. Because going to war on our own will only remove the burden of responsibility from some of the countries at the forefront. Why should they take difficult decisions if we do what it takes in their place? It will also allow some countries of the region to pursue their own interests and hidden agendas, as well as to settle old neighbourhood disputes while seeming to fight Isis.

Who really fights Isis in Syria and Iraq? Not the Assad regime, which needs this devil to find legitimacy and a foothold against rebel movements. Not Turkey, which is at least as much concerned by Kurdish separatism. Not Saudi Arabia, which wishes before all to keep the trust of its people by being hard on Iran and Shia movements. And the people of the region sometimes feel the threat of Isis weighs less than the hundreds of thousands who have died in the bloodbath of the Middle East in the past three decades, in their view because of regimes supported by the west or because of western military interventions. Let’s be aware of what many think in the Middle East: “This is not our war”.

Second, we need the whole international community to stand united against terrorism. But how could it be so if we give the impression of double standards, that victims in Russia or in China are not quite as innocent as ours? This is not a threat only for the western world. All five permanent members of the UN Security Council have had to face massive attacks in the past decade, with 9/11; the London bombings of 2005; the attack on a school in Beslan, Russia, in 2004; the bombings in Kunming, China, last year. Over two-thirds of mankind are today in direct danger, including India, south-east Asia, central Asia, west and east Africa. Islamist terrorism has become a worldwide concern.

Third, even within the western world, there is still a long way to go to define a common strategy. The diplomatic discussions in the past weeks have shown how few European countries were willing to engage in this war, despite last week’s decisions of the British and German parliament to participate or support the French and American air strikes, out of fear of the risks of increased exposure it would represent to their populations.

The unity of Europe is all the more crucial, as the disintegration of European solidarity is one of the main objectives of the terrorists, aiming at isolation, distrust and fear. Likewise, the US has sounded half-hearted in their support of the French strategy, because of their Iraqi experience. Today, we need to speak with one voice to address the terrorist threat effectively.

Our first task is to develop global awareness and unity. We need a new Atlantic Charter, on a worldwide basis, expressing the common will of all powers. But for this, we need to reach out to other powers, in particular to China and Russia. United, we will be able to send out a message against the terrorists that will be heard in the Muslim world; we will be able to give ourselves the tools to asphyxiate Isis in its home territory by cutting off its communications, its recruitment and its access to easy money through oil, antiquities and human trafficking. This requires at the same time a combination of air strikes, support of regional troops and strong political co-ordination.

Our common task – and it will be a long one – is also to fight all Islamist terrorism. If we overcome Isis, it should not be at the price of a greater danger arising elsewhere. This is exactly what happened in the fight against al-Qaida. True, the central organisation has been weakened, even if in Yemen, Libya, Syria and western Africa the remains of al-Qaida are still active. But in the meantime, we allowed the emergence of a new threat, taking advantage of our mistakes: a global terrorist movement with a territorial base and the ideological appeal of a reborn caliphate.

Overcoming terrorism itself can only be achieved through the stabilisation of the Middle East, which is suffering a catastrophe of historic dimensions comparable only to Europe’s suicide between 1914 and 1945. This can only be done by the pressure of the international community on all regional powers, in a permanent regional security conference that could create mechanisms preventing escalation, as the Helsinki conference did in Europe during the Cold War.

In Syria, we need local truces and ceasefires between government and rebel forces wherever possible in order to create political momentum for a transition of power and to concentrate forces against Isis. And this can be done only by including Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Overcoming terrorism also means cutting the roots it has dug in our own societies. We have to be aware that the ideology of Islamist radicalism is gaining ground among the children of Muslim immigrants in our countries. This is fuelled by rejection and loss of identity and is growing among the children of the middle classes of mass consumption societies, who aspire to the clear-cut moral code of radical Islam, to a model of unconditional authority and submission, to a vision of supreme heroism freeing them from the feeling of mediocre and invisible lives.

These violent sects feed on the wounds of our liberal societies, on our shortcomings and on our inability to propose positive visions of the future. Our message should be that everyone matters.

Our weapon against terrorism is peace. Not peace with the terrorist movements, of course, but civil peace and regional peace everywhere that war is feeding radicalisation and terrorism. And peace with ourselves to avoid division and mistrust in our midst.

6 décembre 2015, The Guardian