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Benjamin Morel: "The army embodies the permanence of the State and must be defended for that"

2021-07-23T14:04:05.053Z

FIGAROVOX / INTERVIEW - While General François Lecointre has just left his post of Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, the academic looks back on the four years of relationship between the Army and the President of the Republic.



Benjamin Morel is a lecturer in public law at the University of Paris II Panthéon-Assas.

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FIGAROVOX.

- General François Lecointre chose to leave his post on July 21 to avoid "politicizing the function" by making it coincide with the duration of the presidential mandate, as Emmanuel Macron had asked him to do.

How do you understand this decision from a political point of view?

Benjamin MOREL.

-

It's not that new.

The chiefs of staff of the armies quite often leave before the presidential election.

Claude Vanbremeersch left his post on February 1, 1981, Jeannou Lacaze who will occupy this post under a good part of the first Miterrand mandate, is therefore appointed under Valéry Giscard d'Estaing.

This is also the case for the secretaries general of the government, whose appointment is intended to be independent of changes of Prime Minister.

The idea is that the army, like the administration, is at the service of politics and the general interest and, unlike the American system, it embodies the permanence of the state and the experience on which can be drawn. support the new power in place. On this point Emmanuel Macron innovated at the start of his mandate by dispensing with the services of Pierre de Villiers which was very badly felt in the army, and even in public opinion. The idea of ​​an American-style administration for which Emmanuel Macron does not seem to have mourned seems quite opposed to military culture, the choice of François Lecointre is part of this tradition.

The armies have always had their own ideological orientation, like any body of the population.

However, those who find themselves fearing, or dreaming, of a coup d'état are a very small minority and are totally deluded.

Benjamin Morel

What was the impact of the first column "of the generals" published by

Current values

within the army, according to you?

I am not an army corps specialist, and therefore cannot comment on the echo of the text. Two things, however. The platform actually mobilized relatively few soldiers and it cannot be considered representative. The prominent personalities are known for their ideological orientation. This is what François Lecointre advances. What is true, however, is that the vote for the RN is strong in the armies. This is notably what an IFOP survey for the Jean Jaurès Foundation showed in July 2019.

More recently, an IPSOS CEVIPOF survey of May 2021 showed that 44% of police and military personnel were ready to vote Le Pen in the first round. There is therefore little fertile ground for LREM and, if the army remains a big mute, a substantial part of its members think no less. Then there is the content and the form. The signatories' approach does not seem to be in line with military habits and support for this has remained marginal, apart from a new forum whose number of signatories should be put into context in view of the number of people taking up the military service. The armies have always had their own ideological orientation, like any body of the population. However, those who find themselves fearing, or dreaming, of a coup d'état are a very small minority and are totally deluded.

It is true that after the pass of arms with General de Villiers, Emmanuel Macron kept his commitment and that for the first time since the 1980s the defense budget has increased continuously and substantially.

Benjamin Morel

In 2017, General Pierre de Villiers resigned with a bang, deploring the “broken trust” with the Head of State, who is also the head of the armed forces, against a background of budgetary dispute.

Within the army, does the figure of the leader risk crystallizing around the idea that a courageous leader is the one who says no to political power, as General Lecointre worried?

The army is a body and it behaves as such. This in itself is not outrageous. She is aware of her role and the means that are necessary for her to fulfill it. A leader is also a representative and an interlocutor for politics. If the body can no longer assume its role, it is it that must go to dialogue. It is true that after the passing of arms with General de Villiers, Emmanuel Macron kept his commitment and that for the first time since the 1980s the defense budget has increased continuously and substantially. The Finance law for 2021 therefore provides for a budget 22% higher than that of 2017.

However, the judgment of July 15, 2021 of the CJEU, which enjoins the Member States, on the basis of an after all questionable interpretation of the treaties, to treat the military as employees like any other, calls into question this balance. How can we think that we can apply the 35 hours to the armed forces under the same conditions as that applying to the tertiary sector or to industry? This judgment calls into question the entire mode of operation of the French army, and, more importantly, the essential conditions of the sovereignty which, in the end, the army is responsible for ensuring the defense. Florence Parly was indignant, Édouard Philippe published a column, but the Head of State who is also the Chief of the Armies remained silent. For Emmanuel Macron whoseEurope is the most stable ideological backbone, this case is a time bomb. He will not be able to ignore ad vitam aeternam the judgment of the CJEU. The day when it will be necessary to choose between an arm wrestling with Europe or with the army, Emmanuel Macron risks being confronted with a real crisis, if he chooses the first against the second, we bet that he will have the opinion against him.

In the midst of the French presidency of the Union and in the midst of the presidential campaign, the army could well play a political role in the end, not as that which acts to defend, but as that which needs to be defended.

Source: lefigaro

All news articles on 2021-07-23

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