Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Friday, February 04, 2005

Chirac's attack
Chirac's verbal assault on Mbeki's peacekeeping efforts are surprising, but not without antecedent. The Ivory Coast has long been France's empirical playground, and Chirac himself has expended a significant amount of political capital in their rather messy peacekeeping efforts there under the Marcoussis Road Map. Thabo Mbeki has flown in for a few days, achieved what France has not in a few years, leaving France without position in the country.

The French take national pride very seriously, and most especially after the deaths of French peacekeepers in the Ivory Coast. Chirac has consequentially been backed into a corner with Mbeki's succesful mediation efforts and is undoubtedly under pressure from opposition at home. This places his derogatory comments about Mbeki's "lack of understanding of West Africa" and the implication that he was responsible for the insinuation that France was trying to "conquer" the Ivory Coast, in a little more perspective. Chirac was given a perfect opening when the Ivory Coast opposition party leadership, allies of the French, accused Mbeki of being in coalescence with president Laurent Gbagbo in his view of a "French neo-colonial plot". He took it...