Le déclassement français: Elysée, Quai d’Orsay, DGSE, dans les secrets du sérail
Georges Malbrunot & Christian Chesnot
Modérateur: Vincent Nouzille
Georges Malbrunot and Christian Chesnot on the occasion of the release of “Le déclassement français: Elysée, Quai d’Orsay, DGSE, dans les secrets du sérail”.
In their book, “Le déclassement français”, the two authors Georges Malbrunot and Christian Chesnot, take us on a dive behind the scenes of French foreign policy. They give a detailed account of what they have seen over the past five years. “The president was very agitated but without many results”, they note. However, they do not place full responsibility for the French downgrade on Emmanuel Macron’s shoulders. “It was during Jacques Chirac’s second term that the voice of France began to waver,” they explain.
Dominique de Villepin’s speech at the UN Security Council in February 2003 against the war in Iraq had a considerable echo and raised France’s image, particularly in the near and Middle East. Since then, the Arab countries, France’s traditional partners, have struggled to understand what is going on. France’s attitude during the Arab Spring played a devastating role. Its zeal to support revolutions, to make people forget its support for former dictators, served France badly. Especially as today, France has to face a new turnaround. The two authors deplore “these zigzags”.
Like his predecessors Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande, Emmanuel Macron tried, by going there several times, to restore France’s place, in attempting to impose a roadmap in Lebanon. The pressure put on by the French head of state did not have the desired effect in this case – as indeed in others. Even though they recognize him as an intellectual and a strategic visionist, Georges Malbrunot and Christian Chesnot note that Emmanuel Macron still lacks the experience to stand up to “old” leaders who have already seen many people try before him. They find that the president does not listen enough to advice. Their book highlights an often-solitary exercise of power and a “marginalization of the Quai d’Orsay”
Beyond the aspects inherent in the personality of Emmanuel Macron, the authors note that France should involve its European partners more. That it still tends too much, as was the case with Lebanon, to take initiatives alone.
Although the observation is severe, Georges Malbrunot and Christian Chesnot preferred the term “downgrading” to that of “decline” because, according to them, all is not lost. “France can go back up there”. What is an obstacle for the moment is “the lack of coherence” of the French diplomatic line and also in its domestic political sphere. The ongoing debate on Islam and Muslims contributes to blurring France’s image in the Arab world, where leaders and populations alike struggle to understand this French “obsession” which hits head-on a long past of friendship and alliances with the Arab-Muslim world.
Palace of Nations – Geneva