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France

Syria Intervention: Will French parliamentarians have their say?

IN THE RADICAL PRESS / HUMANITE

By Jean -Emmanuel Ducoin

In the political life of the supposed great republican democracies, there are times when gut urges should give way to reason, not the reason of state (though ) but the reason of the mind that seeks to rise above short-term political touting.

As he moves into territory mined by the vote of the British Parliament and the decision of Barack Obama to consult Congress, has [President Francois] Hollande realised that one does not joke with war?

…In less than twenty-four hours , we observed two obvious signs of excitement within the Elysee.

First: the Head of State, head of the army, decided to send prime minister Jean- Marc Ayrault into front line Monday night, to detail to French parliamentarians the “evidence ” which shows, according to the French government, Bashar Al Assad as responsible for the gas attack on 21 August in Damascus.

Second: a parliamentary vote to authorize military intervention in Syria would finally “not be a taboo subject for Francois Hollande” but would take place later, if we are to believe the Minister of Parliamentary Relations, Alain Vidal.

This must be considered a change of tack, but does it mark a sign of weakness in the head of state ? Dictated by circumstances? These issues will be, too, at the heart of the important parliamentary rendez-vous taking place today.

Prime Minister Jean- Marc Ayrault, who will speak at 1600 hours to the National Assembly, at the same time as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Laurent Fabius, who will address the Senate, but with no concluding vote, alas !

…The Syrian issue is not limited to a clash between a ruthless dictator on one side, and a democratic opposition on the other….this time the argument of a military emergency does not hold water, since everyone knows that France will not intervene without the United States .

But Obama’s decision to consult Congress allows time for the French president to hold a second debate in Parliament – after today’s – which would conclude by a proper vote…. although it will not necessarily dispel the apparent malaise in public opinion, tired of witnessing the endlessly repetitive [Western intervention in ] Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria …

Ten years after France’s refusal to give George Bush the green light from the UN for its war against Iraq, the country must find its own voice. Will France be the only European country whose government advocates, without hesitation, armed action against a country without a UN mandate or even a resolution of the Security Council, which, it must be said, would ruin any chance of a new diplomatic initiative like Geneva II?

In France’s Fifth Republic, with its elected monarch, the democratic challenge is not small. We shouldn’t have a short memory, though. In 2003, when the principle of intervention in Iraq was raised in France, François Hollande, then first secretary of the Socialist Party, demanded a prior vote in Parliament….

Translation by Revolting Europe

About revoltingeurope

Writer on Europe's Left, trade union and social movements @tomgilltweets or @revoltingeurope

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