France is re-joining NATO, the military alliance of countries made up of Canada, the USA and most of Europe.
They pulled out in a fit of gallic pique forty years ago because Charles de Gaulle thought that America would dominate proceedings, and although France provide troops for the various conflicts blighting today’s world, they do not participate in the military leadership of the alliance.
In one of Sarkozy’s better moves, probably because he is fascinated, nay, obsessed by the USA, he has agreed that France will, once again, enter the fray and take their turn at commanding the troops. It's a move obviously designed to ingratiate the French President with Obama but there's no denying that the US have long lobbied France to rejoin. When all of NATO's missiles were pointing at Russia, the good old French kept their plans under wraps - they probably pointed theirs at London!
France’s exit from NATO was objected to by the majority of French people who expressed an opinion but it was forced through in 1969 by a French government who were in fear of becoming a puppet to the USA (where have we heard that before?) and was just another example of the parochial outlook of not just this country but also Germany. Whenever these two colossal countries, in terms of population and fiscal strength join a ‘club’, whatever the club might be, they immediately aim to secure not only the majority of the voting rights but the majority of the financial and social benefits associated with the venture. What happened to the joint benefit ideal? The ability to help other less fortunate nations?
Take the Concorde joint venture. Why the ‘e’ at the end of the name? French init? Where was the plane assembled? Toulouse! Who made the first flight? France! Nuff said.
Then there is the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), based on an alliance of 30 countries to promote economic stability and raise living standards. So we have a club of 30 countries. Where is the HQ – Paris!
Then we have CERN (Centre for Nuclear Research – see blog of 2nd Sept 08), made up of 20 European member states and funded by all of them. Where is the HQ? On the French Swiss border!
We also have the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), founded in 1946 and made up of 185 countries. OK, the HQ of this subsidiary of the World Bank is in London but the French only, and very reluctantly, agreed to that after forcing a deal where they would supply the President who was later forced from office after spending around £80 million refurbing what was already a very plush HQ building.
I suppose the EEC is like a ‘big boys’ club but it’s clear who tries to run it – the French and the Germans. I don’t have any pre-conceived notion that the UK should be involved any more than they are. After all we’re only ‘associate’ members but when there’s a group photo, who’s at the front, in the middle? Sarkozy and Merkel. Will we ever see the Cyprus or Irish delegates taking centre stage? I think not.
Enough of this xenophobia but not before I say that ..... if the French can’t run France properly (there are 36,000 local councils and more civil servants, and corupt mayors, than you can shake a stick at), what chance has NATO got?