Flyover Countries: A Report From French Africa - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Flyover Countries: A Report From French Africa
by
Bernard-Henri Lévy on PBS (YouTube screenshot)

Paris, Paris-Abidjan, Abidjan, you fly over, I write to Wlady, you end up in a different world and yet one that is so close. I am with Captain Kirk without his altitude — I hope to experience it some day — in the sentiment of the precious, fragile oneness of our planet, of which remember we are only the custodians, but in actual real truth that is not what I mean here. I go from one colonial capital to another and every time I feel the same marvel at the rise and decline — if such it is — of the French empire.

The French empire, after all, began on an island in the river Seine the Romans called Lutetia, Lutece, and thence from Paris, from the name of the Celtic indigenes, already called Gaullois, into the savage provinces by force of arms — à coups d’epée, Charles de Gaulle famously wrote — to the Rhine and Flanders on one end, to the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean at the other, and then they crossed sea and ocean and conquered half of Africa, half of North America, lost it all — maybe.

For, as it happens, I come here and it is the same movie as when I last paid a call. The highwaymen in the north are threatening an entire region, the Sahel, the band of arid land south of the Sahara desert between the Atlantic to the Indian oceans, and French troops with Chadian ground support — best desert fighters on the continent — and American air support as well unknown numbers of special operators on the ground, search and sometimes destroy Tuareg marauders, augmented by Arab volunteers, who rape and massacre and depredate under the banner of Islam though as a functional matter it is their traditional occupation.

It has always been thus but the firepower is much greater now, because of Bernard-Henri Lévy, of whom I was just reminded because his most recent politically correct cause is the maligning of Eric Zemmour. He accuses him of being a Jewish traitor because the conservative controversialist is saying at the outset of a presidential campaign season that it might be well to declare that if you want to live in France the minimum of courtesy requires that you love France and not, like hundreds of thousands of people from the ex-colonies, come there to claim a living with all the trimmings because of the crimes and evil of the colonial past, not to mention that in your neighborhoods sharia can replace the code civil, thank you.

I have to marvel at the nerve of this guy. He after all was the man who whispered in President Sarkozy’s ear that taking down Qaddafi was a good idea for humanitarian and human rights reasons and brilliant regime-change geostrategy. This is why there are high-end weapons all across the Sahel. The Tripoli pirate’s arsenals were plundered by his Tuareg foreign legion, who saw no percentage in being the targets of British and American bombing runs. They returned to their desert homelands over the old caravan routes, riding Toyota trucks instead of camels.

You did not hear then, nor hear now, any words of apology or compassion for the dirt-poor peoples of the Sahel massacred, kidnapped, driven to urban centers for which they have no skills, who took the brunt of the wave of armed men out of Libya. You did not hear anything, and you never will, from Max “Liddell-Hart” Boot nor William “Walter Lippmann” Kristol, who thought it would be just another easy exercise in nation-building, a small additional burden for us to carry but a shrewd geostrategy, building democracy, pacifying the Arabo-Muslim world, lightening the pressure on Israel.

Niger, Burkina, Lake Chad, northern Nigeria, Mali north of the savannah did not have the resources to protect their own populations. You can bet your last dollar Max never knew their names, to make an apt reference to an American writer of some note whose name he probably does not know either. The hell with you, Max Boot. And Bill, you let your side down.

They went on to favor Hillary “Who cares about Benghazi?” Clinton and Joe “We’ll get them all out” Biden, terrific nation-building moves for the U.S. I wish I could discuss this with Wlady, as I listen to Ivoirians tell me their worries, I wish he could hear this. (I would interpret.) Well, he is at the TAS Gala and that is fine. Wish I were there, in fact, but somebody had to do this. The mission, the mission always. If you can remember what it is.

Normally I refer to him as Mr. Pleszczynski, of course, Mr. Tyrrell’s arm and shield. But listening to people who interject their worries and complaints with “tu vois, Papa?” you understand what I am saying, father? I need the familiarity. This is strange, even if I expect it, understand the respect. The good manners. We are close yet so far.

The collapse of Libya also provoked a flow of immigrants, or refugees, toward Lampedusa and Italy and thence points north in the borderless European Union. Smart thinking that, for the Western Alliance set.

The flow continues, as does the destabilization. The destabilization occurs at both ends, of course; Samuel Huntington pointed to the same phenomenon in his last work — how does the United States continue as a recognizable United States after reaching a critical demographic mass of aliens who do not want to assimilate? Eric Zemmour, without the great Harvard political thinker’s scholarly calm, points to the same thing in France, more broadly in Europe.

To be sure we are very powerful, and we are famously innovative, adaptive, and seductive. In the comparatively poor lands of West Africa there is less room for comfort. In neighboring Mali, the current government — there have been a couple coups lately — is dispatching a religious authority who happens to be a Wahabite, which means almost certainly under Saudi financial and political guidance, to negotiate an understanding with the Tuareg jihadists, something the French, since their 2013 intervention, have vetoed. It is more difficult for them to do so now because they want to cut back on their desert contingent, one consequence of which is that the Malians are making deals for Russian arms and irregular advisors — the dreaded Wagner force. The Tuareg leader, the fearsome Iyad Ag Ghali, a smuggler and highwayman who turned himself into a sort of religious robin hood, asserts as minimum cease fire conditions the imposition of sharia throughout the country and the departure of all French forces.

This somehow has a familiar ring. It seems these people wherever they are tell one another, just wait out the Americans, the French, infidels have no patience. Allah is great, brother.

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