The EU’s war in Africa

Interview by Jonas Elvander, Brave New Europe, June 15, 2021.

Planned was an interview concerning European military intervention in the Sahel. It turned out to become a very interesting conversation about European defence policy in general, and the ongoing attempts by France to establish a (French-led) European army post Brexit.

Jonas Elvander: You have previously spoken about the role of the French army in European politics, especially about how it is deployed in conflict zones as a kind of ersatz European army in exchange for favours from other member states, especially Germany. Can you explain how this system works?

Wolfgang Streeck: To begin with the fundamentals, since Brexit France is the only EU member country that has nuclear arms and a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. There can be no doubt that France sees this as a natural entitlement to European leadership on national or “European” security. Here French national interests tend to transform, from a French perspective, into common European interests. More precisely, there is a French national interest in turning French security interests into European ones, in others words, slip in the role of a European hegemonic power. For this France needs Germany, which is by far the strongest economic power in Europe. It also needs to escape from American supremacy over European security policies, by establishing a French-led Europe as an independent world power between the United States and China, more or less equidistant from the two. Here France as  using the EU as a front would claim Northern Africa and large parts of the Middle East as an area of principal interest where it would bear responsibility for what is called „political stability“, the keeping in office of friendly governments that would listen to France when it comes to access to their raw materials or for military alliances and interventions. (…)

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