Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Rough Ride for Sarkozy on Afghanistan

Since the election last year of President Sarkozy, France has been moving towards to reintegration of its armed forces into NATO's unified command. General de Gaulle took France out of the command in 1966.

Yesterday, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon announced in the National Assembly that a step towards closer cooperation with NATOl would be taken with the sending of 'several hundred' French troops to fight alongside Canadian forces in southern Afghanistan. Canada had hoped that France would send 1,000 troops, most likely an elite force of paratroopers, as reinforcements.

However, even the smaller step now proposed has produced controversy. The Times reports on Socialist opposition to the move - they described Afghanistan as the 'new Vietnam' - and the resignation of a Deputy from President Sarkozy's party. For those that read French, the magazine Le Point also reports on the issue today.

This row is emblematic of the problems NATO is having in Afghanistan, and of the broader disagreements on NATO's role in the 21st Century.

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