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Revolt of the Retired Generals


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First Things

Nathan Pinkoski

5/3/21

On April 21, twenty retired French generals published an open letter to President Emmanuel Macron and the French government. The letter, which appeared in Valeurs actuelles, calls for France’s leaders to return to honor and defend patriotism: 

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The hour is late, France is in peril, and many mortal dangers threaten her. Even though we are retired, we remain soldiers of France. In the present circumstances, we cannot remain indifferent to the fate of our beautiful country . . . today our honour lies in denouncing the disintegration of our country.

The letter identifies several forms of disintegration afflicting France: the ideology of antiracism, Islamism, the scapegoating of the police, and the normalization of attacks on the police and military.

The letter’s preamble makes clear that France unites a variety of religions and races. But it excoriates “antiracism.” Antiracism is “exhibited for one purpose only: to create unrest and even hatred between the communities on our soil.” Activists advancing antiracism are “hateful and fanatical partisans” who “want racial warfare.”

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From an American perspective, the whole text is astonishing. It would be impossible to find twenty retired American generals, let alone two, who would dare suggest that the logic of “antiracism” entails racial warfare.  

But in France, the letter speaks to conventional political debates. Macron and his ministers now launch regular attacks on antiracism and identity politics, arguing that this American-made ideology threatens national unity and the integrity of the Republic. A recent poll indicates that 74 percent of the French think “antiracism” has the opposite effect. It is also not unusual to speak about the threat of war, even civil war, breaking out on French soil. In 2015, after Islamists killed 130 people on the streets of Paris, President François Hollande declared that France was at war. In 2016, Patrick Calvar, the head of DGSI (France’s internal security agency) said that France was “on the edge of a civil war.” And another group of generals has just released a short report on how a “hybrid war” has been declared against France.

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France unveils new counterterrorism and intelligence bill

One measure will extend the use by French intelligence services of algorithms to track down extremists online, a method already being trialed since 2015 to monitor messaging apps

AP , Wednesday 28 Apr 2021

The French government on Wednesday unveiled a new counterterrorism and intelligence bill aiming at better preventing attacks, notably via a greater surveillance of extremist websites.

The bill, which had been in preparation for months, was formally presented in a Cabinet meeting just days after a French police official was killed inside her police station in what authorities are investigating as a terrorist attack.

In a news conference, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said the text will strengthen French intelligence services' power to watch people's online activities.

Extremists ``are using less and less phone lines and more and more internet connections,'' he said.

One measure will extend the use by French intelligence services of algorithms to track down extremists online, a method already being trialed since 2015 to monitor messaging apps.

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