The Perfect Soldier: Special Operations, Commandos, and the Future of Us Warfare by James F. Dunnigan
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Dirty Little Secrets
With a Little Help From France
Discussion Board on this DLS topic
by Austin Bay
June 14, 2005
Lots of folks in sub-Saharan Africa snicker when they hear France's president
Jacques Chirac complain of US "unilateralism" and American imperial aims. France
still maintains an empire and if you don't think so, check out the way the Ivory
Coast, Chad, and the Central African Republic (CAR) work -- or don't
And then there's Djibouti, an independent (at least nominally)
nation located on the Horn of Africa. At one time know as the French colony of
"Afars and the Issas", the place has something State Department real estate
agents understand-- strategic location, strategic location, strategic location.
It's near the mouth of the Red Sea-- and for the region it has excellent
logistics capabilities. Djibouti got its independence from France in 1977, but
the way France "de-colonialized" was something of a fiction. France and Djibouti
maintain very "close ties."
Since 2002, Djibouti has served as a base for
U.S. military and intelligence operations against terrorist groups in east
Africa and the Arabian peninsula.
Djibouti had a "minor" civil war that
lasted from the early-1990s until 2001. Afar ethnics --chafing under an Issa
dominated government-- occasionally blew up things and ambushed convoys. That
fracas seems to be settled, though settled in the way France likes to settle
things. President Ismail Omar Guelleh was recently reelected president. In April
2005 Guelleh won 100 percent of the votes in the presidential election. He was
Several analysts have suggested continued American use of
Djibouti facilities is an example of France "hedging its bets." Jacques Chirac
has repeatedly played the anti-American card in French domestic politics, at the
UN, and throughout the European Union. But it's argued that encouraging Djibouti
to provide a base in east Africa to bash Al Qaeda scores some covert brownie
points from Washington.
After the French "No" to the EU constitution,
Chirac can use all the brownie points he can scrape together.