We all accept it, but at times we are blind to the setting. The French do things different, it is as basic as rain is wet. There are parts I do not agree with. French secularism is deeply overboard. We get it, there is history there. Hugh Jackman sang about it in the Incredibles 2 (the miserables). Centuries of deep cultural impact is not wiped away and I believe that is not needed. Yet the BBC gives us ‘Anger as ex-generals warn of civil war in France’. The article (at https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-56899765) also gives us “Two immutable principles guide the action of members of the military with regard to politics: neutrality and loyalty,” tweeted the minister in charge of the armed forces, Florence Parly”, yet the power players are forgetting that there is a problem and the military are not willing to stand by, you see these same power players will use the military as canon fodder just for them to look good, and which soldier ever signed up for the function of ‘cannon fodder’? France faced the Hedbo event, the November 2015 Paris attacks, and now ‘Killer of French Police Officer Was a Radicalised Islamist, Prosecutor Says’ (source: New York Times). There we see “The attacker watched videos ‘glorifying martyrs and jihad’ immediately before the stabbing, the official said”. France has a problem, one from the past (secularism) one from the present (political indifference and pussyfooting around the issues that are too serious). It results in a military system that is not willing to see their country to go to waste and in all this they are getting political support from Marine Le Pen. The situation for Emmanuel Macron is turning from not so good to deeply dire in in swipe and the political grounds are shifting. So as other newspapers give us “French President Emmanuel Macron’s government reacted furiously to an open letter from 20 retired generals warning of a possible military takeover and bloody civil war in response to what they characterised as the disintegration of a country under Islamist extremism”, you see we tend to wipe aside the soldiers complaining, because the political power players will make claims like ‘You do not understand this’, or my favourite ‘This is a complex situations and we are walking the best path as the party sees it’, yet a general, or 20 generals in this case is a different matter, generals know what goes on in their nation and 20 of them is a powerful voice and now the dire part starts making sense. You see some will adhere to government created flames regarding ‘discrimination’, yet when we see “Members of the French military, whether actively serving or reservists, are forbidden from expressing public opinions on religion and politics, and Ms Parly has called for those who signed the letter to be punished” and we realise that these 20 are retired, we see a military consensus and that is bad breakfast, which will be followed by lamebrain lunch and dreaded diner. I am not judging the military, a consensus of 20 retired generals is a big thing. So when we get back to ‘Ms Parly has called for those who signed the letter to be punished’, Ms Parly needs to realise that the matter is a lot larger than she is making it out to be. The stabbed police officer might also draw in the police services, even as they will not openly revolt, they are in a stage where they feel that the present French government is no longer to be trusted. It opens all kinds of avenues for Marine Le Pen and in a setting that she did not have before, the larger parts of the police and military on HER side, how many votes is that? Do you think that these 20 generals stay quiet? That is 370,000 military votes, optionally taking family and friends with them and Emmanuel Macron was not in a safe political position in the first place. As such, when the police joins that group his retirement from the Élysée Palace will be close to certain.
So how will this end?
That is unclear. Ever since 1961 (Algiers) when President de Gaulle faced a coup d’état. It failed but that was 60 years ago, now it is not a civil war, 20 retired generals will have the ability to change the minds of millions of French people, which will start to favour the path of Marine Le Pen. From my point of view, the stage of secularism and islamic insults due to secularism is a stage that cannot be won, France will have to make choices and none of the paths are nice to observe, but is there an alternative? Emmanuel Macron will have to make choices and having a serious conversation with these retired generals might be the path of least resistance for now. head banging would result in Marine Le Pen becoming President of France and I am decently certain (roughly 99.54476%) that the path trodden then will be a lot less enjoyable.
Can it be avoided?
I am not sure if this is possible, the power players sat on their hands for too long, the fact that 20 retired generals in a stage where they embraced neutrality and loyalty their entire life is not to be underestimated. How much did this political group let things waiver? That is the question, and it is not about 1 or 2 generals that have issues, 20 of them have issues and that is a group that represented the French defence forces for well over a decade, that matters, these people know things, they see things and they are objecting. Something that has not happened in 60 years and as I see it Florence Parly and Emmanuel Macron need to take this seriously, as I see it that signal is a sign that time has run out. As I see it having immediate consults with Directeur-Général Général d’Armée Christian Rodriguez (CEO of the French Gendarmerie) might be a first step, optionally seeing if he might be able to start a conversation with the 20 members. If the military in France is in distrust of politicians to the degree that this globally plays (exception Myanmar), it might be one of the few steps he has left, but at this point neither of these two can afford to sit on their hands. And the claim by Florence Parly to “those who signed the letter to be punished”, she could better forget about that part. If this goes any further she will have a mere one year until she is out of a job and you better believe that there is no place for her in a Le Pen cabinet.