The ‘Gendarme of Africa’ Increasingly shunned

French 120mm RTF1 Brandt mortar in action in Mali 2019, as part of Operation Berkhane

While France was a big player in East vs West counter-insurgency wars in Africa throughout the Cold War including the twin disasters of the Algerian Wars and the Suez intervention, the Toyota Wars in Chad against Libya, Ethiopia/Somalia, and the Horn of Africa (remember, Djibouti was the French Territory of the Afars and the Issas until 1978 and the country still has 2,000 troops there) the nightmare that was the Congo and Biafra, Kolwezi in 1978, the Gambian coup response in 1981, et. al. They were also on the periphery of the South African/Rhodesian efforts in the 1970s-80s as well, being one of the few countries to ignore the general weapon embargoes on those apartheid states. 

Following the fall of the Soviet Union, France kept up its self-imposed Gendarme d’Afrique role, enforcing the way things should be as seen by Paris, overturning the repeated mercenary coups by Bob Denard, still mixing it up in Libya, sending troops to the Central African Republic (which saw no less than eight French interventions since 1960), being involved in a simmering 20-year conflict in the Ivory Coast, the forever war of the continued Operation Barkhane saga in Mali, and in Burkina Faso. 

Regarding the latter two, Russia seems to be increasingly pushing the French out for assorted reasons. The below from AJ: 

One comment

  • I think you mean France kept her empire post WW2. As a Brit I always find it interesting that many countries still taunt us about our empire which was given up most peaceably or taken over by somebody else (Hello US-A!) yet France’s empire is never mentioned. Be it in Africa, well until now, or the Pacific it is vast and has the globe’s largest EEZ. I think one of the reasons why France left NATO’s military structure when it did was more about them being able to keep the mix of arms needed to police an empire than the Soviet threat. Saying that period around 1960 was about the time Europe had recovered sufficiently for another go at industrial war if it chose so by leaving France had wiggle room. France always likes wiggle room. Compare with us Brits who had to keep a large army and airforce in Europe, shouldered a heavy load in the Atlantic, and still had to manage withdrawal from around the globe. Oh how the Europeans must have laughed at us. France leaving NATO. Germany’s armed forces used more to churn tax than for defence. And the stupid Brits paying to defend. I am surprised they didn’t give themselves a rupture when we decided to pay them to rape our economy when we joined the EU.

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