Datum: 09.12.10 13:59
Kategorie: Welt, Diaspora-Afrika

Von: Martial Frindethie

Côte d´Ivoire: The logic of french interventions in Africa

General Charles de Gaulle, this most beloved French president and iconic figure of French resistance and morality, once formulated an aphorism whose hideous veracity is only equaled by the unscrupulous zeal with which France put it into practice throughout history. "France," he said, "has no friends, but only interests." This Gaullist maxim, which foreboded an unchanged paradigm of philosophical disinformation, economic strangulation, military persecution, and political destabilization, if it has proven factual over time and has helped France accumulate a colossal fortune to the detriment of its former colonies, is today being challenged by most French-speaking African countries. Perhaps, the most powerful counter-hegemonic social movement of the twenty first century witnessed in French Africa is the resistance movement that has been taking place in Côte d'Ivoire since 2002. Sidiki Bakaba, an Ivorian filmmaker, has documented it in his Bare-handed Victory.1 It is a mobilization and struggle against French neocolonial agenda disguised under the coat of globalization. The objective of this polymorphous resistance movement is to unveil and defeat France's imperial economic and political scheme wherever it will manifest itself in Côte d'Ivoire and under whichever form it will hide. Côte d'Ivoire, the Ivorian patriotes often chant, will be the graveyard of France's deceitful policy in its former colonies. What they mean is that, at least in Côte d'Ivoire, they are determined to put an end to the French arsonist policy by which France has historically schemed to set multiple fires in Africa in order to hire itself as emergency management agency via the United Nations and the world financial institutions.

THE LOGIC OF FRENCH INTERVENTIONS IN AFRICA

No matter under which form they come into view, the various French interventions in Africa have never had a philanthropic thrust. French intrusions in Africa have always been driven by logic of maximum wealth through minimum or no effort. Historically, the French Republic has seldom won a war. In fact, the French have systematically lost most wars, even the ones that they confidently declared on their neighbors; and each time France was defeated, it turned to Africa or to the Caribbean with the most destructive designs to assuage its bruised ego and to rebuild its broken finances. An understanding of the French policy in Africa—and the Caribbean—whereby in moments of political and financial distress at home crises are implemented abroad as possibility for Hexagonal improvement could inform a discussion of the contemporary stance against France's brand of globalization in Africa in general, and in Côte d'Ivoire in particular.

In 1871, in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War, a war that France declared and seemed so confident to win on its Prussian neighbor, France emerged a broken and demoralized nation with a diminished territory, a poor economy, and an injured reputation. The German Alliance had just defeated France, annexed its territories of Alsace and Lorraine, and handed the French government a reparation invoice the equivalent of one billion dollars to be paid within three-year. Despite its drained reserves, France managed to acquit itself of the enormous bill long before the scheduled deadline. France's alacrity to make good on the German humiliating tab would have seemed a casual occurrence if almost fifty years before this event, a less powerful country, Algeria, asking that France reimbursed a loan it had owed for too long, had not paid a heavy cost for its impertinence. In fact, the immediate economic outcome of the 1789 French Revolution was catastrophic. Agricultural methods in France had remained archaic. Unlike British farmers, for instance, French farmers had not been able to develop large agricultural exploitations to sustain the local markets and bring in much-needed revenues. The small farms could hardly feed the French populations, and the price of grain and firewood had skyrocketed; bread, the quintessential French food, was being rationed. France was on the verge of famine, and an even more dangerous prospect was developing: Napoleon's hungry armies in Italy and Spain were getting irritable, and a mutiny could break any time. Subsequently, France turned to two Algerian commercial houses, Bacri and Busnach, for a loan in money and grains in order to remedy the country's hardship. However, Bacri and Busnach, too, owed some money to the Algerian sovereign, Dey Kodja Hussein, and they were waiting for France to honor its tab, so they could settle their debt with the Dey. In 1815, by the end of the Napoleonic failed war, France's debt to Algeria was about 18 million francs. Perhaps the merchants had asked Dey Hussein to recover the money from French authorities on their behalf, so that they could also settle their debts with him. Whatever the case, Dey Hussein grew impatient with France's tergiversations. In 1827, during a heated argument with Pierre Deval, the French consul in Algeria about France's long-due balance, the Dey's flywhisk flew in the face of the French consul. King Charles X, who was not very eager to pay off his delinquent debt to Algeria, seized this occasion to protest what he perceived in the Dey's gesture as lack of respect for the French Crown. Despite Dey Hussein's explanation that his gesture was in response to Pierre Deval's personal insult to him, and not a condescension directed at the king of France, 600 French ships landed 37,000 troops in Algeria on June 14, 1830. The French soldiers engaged in the most despicable acts of religious vandalism and human right abuses. They raided mosques and transformed them in cathedrals. They destroyed private properties; they raped women, and executed hundreds of Algerians. Less than a month later, on July 5, the French deposed Dey Hussein. By February 1831, Algeria became effectively a French settlement colony, and French authorities invited 4500 French colonists to farm the fertile coastal lands of Algeria.2 The French occupation of Algeria was not easy, nonetheless. Until 1962, the Algerians resisted the French. Finally, in 1962, the Algerians handed the French one of their most humiliating defeats in history. Germany of 1870 was not 1830's Algeria. France understood that it was not in its interest to delay its obligation toward the Germans. So, France paid its debt promptly and spent the ensuing years ruminating its defeat and thinking of ways to brighten its tarnished image in Europe. Many social engineers suggested that France should concentrate its efforts overseas and build itself an empire that would both replenish itsdepleted coffers and extend to "inferior" races its ideals of civilization.(...)

 

Martial Frindethie

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