Conference – March 2010

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Conference of the General Jean COT

Second part of the conference | Questions

This morning, we are pleased to again receive General COT on a proposal from Doctor TAPPREST.

My General, your first intervention, which related to relations Europe-NATO, took place the 11/13/1999. Since, 10/11 years passed and I think that your position on the problems of peace and your proposals had to evolve

I it is very important for us to know which is the differential between these two dates.

Many events occurred and, for you, the major event is, in 1989, the fall of the Berlin Wall. You say, moreover, in your work on Peace, that the collapse of the Turns in New York is not major, but second, as well as the election of new US president, OBAMA.

Why the SEC interested is in peace ? It is in its statutes and it is one of the major topics of our reflection, therefore you are exactly in the center of our concerns. I found, in your work, this happy mixture of optimism and pessimism of which you make an alloy which, in fine, is perfectly dynamic. It is what interested me and struck.

General COT was in chief Commander of the FORPRONU in Bosnia at one extremely serious time, after the MORILLON General. It was brought to make decisions in various situations extremely interesting for our subject.


I was not after the MORILLON General. He was my Boss of State Major when I ordered the 1st army, he ordered in Bosnia and me I ordered the FORPRONU for the whole of ex-Yugoslavia. When it left it is a Belgian comrade who replaced it ; I am not the successor of MORILLON.

I am an old soldier, since I am with the retirement for a certain time. I was made soldier, a little contingent manner, since, when I had 10 years my father was shot by the Germans, in the Paddle, not far from Riceys, Amélie Saint-Père, and, in my subconscious of child, undoubtedly, I said myself, whereas I did not have a soldier in my family, that it was not conceivable that similar drama – the second world war – still returns. I thus decided to make me soldier, with the great astonishment of my mother and my entourage.

I am a infantryman, I can do only that : to go. I had the chance, in my trade, to order all that one can order : a section, a company, a regiment, a division, an army and, to finish the Force of Protection of the United Nations in Yugoslavia, the FORPRONU. I believe to have done what I had desire for making, and, when one did what one had desire for making, one can be turned over peacefully on his life at the end of the course.

Since I am with the retirement, I made not bad things. I was professor 3 years at the University of Right of Rheims, “professor back-up troop”, and I liked much. I made tens and tens of conferences on the most various topics : Yugoslavia, UNO, etc… I stopped parce it is a little far, and I proposed other topics to you : general concept of the Peace, for which I wrote a book ; then of the general to the individual, Europe – I am a burning, and often desperate European consequently – who trample, and, in the more particular order still, we stopped on this topic, which you chose, i.e. European Defense and its ambiguities.

I had already evoked this topic there 10 years ago but we said ourselves both that 10 years it is far, and that is well to reconsider this subject, and perhaps to widen it on that of Peace, with the liking of your questions until I wait impatiently.

My speech on : Won’t European defense and its ambiguities – do I insist much on the term “ambiguities” – be the official discourse, but is the official discourse inevitably the true speech ?  I am not sure since already a long time ….. but you will judge some by yourself.

I believe that, compared to the other fields of European construction, that of Defense is undoubtedly most chaotic because it is marked by two elements :

  • The exorbitant weight of the American partner since the end of the 2nd world war
  • The atypical position of France on this question of Defense in particular.

There is a constant however, concerning this European defense, it is American hegemony. It is accepted, yesterday like today, and constitutes a good alibi for the European governments to moderate their efforts in this field.

I propose to you, in First part, a rather critical species of report, then, of Second part, a synthesis a little more committed on the future of this European Defense.

This report, I will briefly begin it because I speak in front of informed listeners, but I nevertheless will retain 3 or 4 stakes because the problems of the European Defense of today do not come from nowhere and that one can understand them only while going up a little in the history of this European construction.

Immediately at the end of the war, the Americans re-embarking their soldiers, Europeans, all only, like the large ones, manufactured what one called the “Western European Union”, which was a military alliance.  The “blow of Prague” and the Blockade of Berlin have, by 1949, and with our request, makes return the Americans to Europe and NATO – Organization of the Treaty of the North Atlantic, was created which immediately swallowed the Western European Union which was still in the limbs and which became a Sleeping Beauty, and never awoke, since she died today.

The First stake is the rearmament of Germany. The question, for us, European, was : How will we frame this Germany, from which one had good reasons for still being wary ? There was the idea of the CED – European Community of Defense -. Related to the baptismal funds by France in 1954, and pushed back, the same year, by the French Parliament at the time of a rather extraordinary vote where the collusion of the Gaullists on the one hand, Communists of the other, and even of half of the Socialists, made it possible to push back a treaty of what was anything else only the creation of a European army, that we had, us, French, proposed. That wants to say that we rejected the prospect, upon the departure, of a European pillar in Alliance, which, for me, was a colossal error. I will quote you only one passage of an article that De Gaulle wrote in the NEW YORK TIMES, the 1/21/1954 : “I guarantee that the European army will not be done. I will do all that will be in my power to undertake against it, I will work with the Communists to bar the road to him, I will start a revolution against it, I will still prefer to join to the Russians to stop it. It will not pass, I repeat it, I will make the revolution to prevent it.” I will read you, presently, another quotation of de Gaulle who says the opposite rigorously, but the Great men are not safe from contradictions.

The Second stake is the return to the power of the General de Gaulle in 1966. France leaves NATO with crash, and one can have two readings. Me, I was a small captain of State Major in a French Army corps in Germany which was, at the time, completely integrated in NATO. I can tell you that the decision of de Gaulle “to transfer” France, with an extreme brutality, all that could have allies there, starting with the Americans, to remove all the camps, all the bases logistic, air, etc. , was, one does not remember it enough, a true catastrophe for our allies because one deprived them of the French territory, which was truly the turntable of the defense of Europe. De Gaulle took absolutely incredible chances there and, God is rented, in spite of that, the Russians did not attack. The disappearance of the Soviet threat makes today the question obsolete. For me, the problem is not any more to reform Alliance, but, on the contrary, to exceed it, i.e. to abstract itself some as I will return there presently.

The Third stake is located in 1991, after the fall of, and more still, the implosion Berlin Wall of the Soviet world and the Warsaw Pact, with the key, an existential crisis of NATO. This crisis is extraordinary since NATO, strictly geographical and defensive alliance, had raison d’être only compared to the enemy who was opposite, i.e. the Warsaw Pact which, abruptly, disappears. At the time of a lunch, at the time, with Mr. COLBY, a former owner of the CIA, it had given me a press article entitled : “NATO made well its job, it should be dissolved.” I believe well that he was right.

It is not what was made. The Yugoslav war in 1992 arrived at point to give one second life to NATO, to give the Americans of the reasons to prolong NATO while making completely except zone compared to this why it had been created.

The Fourth stake is the year 1999 marked, among many of other things, by the Summit of Washington, which marked the fiftieth anniversary of the creation of NATO, and by the European summit of Cologne during which one decided to pass from 15 members to 25 (we are 27 today). This year 1999 was as remembered by the creation of an embryo of European Defense as the graphs hereafter light Europeans gave each other the missions above, called of Petersberg, of the name of a small village in Germany where they had been cogitated. Europe obtained Missions which I will describe as “exotics”, because they one nothing to see with the defense of Europe, 4 stricto sensu. Structures were created and it is at least also important.
These structures, on this graph on the left NATO, on the right the European Union, are the transfer of those of NATO, with a small nuance from the point of view of manpower : 60 for NATO, 1 for the EU. Here is the order of magnitude. In the field of the stratégique+opérationnel, below as of two bars, on the left NATO, with an American command and subordinates in North and the South which has 13000 men on the whole with the level as of States Majors. It is much. On our side, of 1999 with now, we do not have anything, or rather we have an “indicated” command and a State Major inter-army i.e. one creates a State Major only when one needs to do something, fault of having permanent European structures.

It is not simple. With each intervention : ex Belgian Congo, Central Africa, Darfur, and, currently piracy in the Persian Gulf, one manufactures something, fault of having these structures. The Fifth and last stake are, since the beginning of the year, the application of the modifying Treaty called of Lisbon. This text, which is a substitute of the Constitutional treaty draft treaty to which Mr. Giscard d’Estaing as a President had worked, is a species of treaty of footnotes, but in the field of Defense, it is better than anything. This Treaty nevertheless equipped us with a permanent President of the European Council – Monsieur VAN ROMPUY, former First Belgian Minister – renewable 2 years, which will avoid the turn-over with presidents who changed every 6 months, and especially it has creates, and it is important, this High representative of Europe for the Foreign Politics and the Defense policy. This High representative is currently Mrs. ASHTON, a British. She is also Vice President of the Commission and President of the Agency. I do not know if it will be able to assume all its responsibilities, but I hope for it. I am not completely pessimistic but not either completely optimistic.  What is regrettable it is that, in the project of Mr. Giscard d’Estaing, this function was called Foreign Minister. The English categorically refused any idea to give a similar name to somebody of Brussels. It was completely inconceivable for them. In this same draft treaty, it was envisaged to equip Europe with a flag, a currency, an anthem, etc…. There still the English refused that IS WRITTEN in the Treaty, and it is not written – even if in practice that exists – and consequently that disappeared from the Treaty. The English do not want to hear of all that could resemble a personalization of Europe.

I will conclude on this report, engaged a little and not rigorously neutral, with the analysis of Mr. Nicolas WILL DRIBBLE, that I regard as a good analyst in much of fields without sharing all his political opinions, on what he had called : “the double lie which founds NATO”. It was rather strong like matter. He said : “firstly the USA give to believe that they accept an authentic independence of Europe, whereas it of it is nothing, and, secondly, Europeans display a will of autonomous Defense without giving means of them”. In other words of beautiful speeches and not of subsidies and I am completely of this opinion.

The sketch below watch a recent comparison – year 2008 – between the USA and Europe. The population of the USA east of 300 Million, that of Europe east of 492 Million, and the GDP, in giga euros are about identical : 12000 Billion euros. We are thus an about identical economic power.

On the other hand the budget of Defense of the USA east of 395 Mlds of euros, not included the expenditure related with the two conflicts which they lead, whereas ours is of 162 Mlds of euros, that is to say a ratio of 21/2 against approximately 1. One could say the same thing, and sometimes worse with regard to the other fields, in particular for the Research and development – very important, because that constitutes long-term sights – where the report is about 6 against 1. The USA thus put 6 times more money for the Research and development than we do not put ourselves of them. However the Research and development is dual, i.e. all the results of this work have repercussions, in the long term, in the civil field, in particular for the communications : the Internet of today is an American military pure fabrication at the beginning. A comparison even more speaking : each American, “of the cradle to the tomb” gives 1200$ for his defense, whereas an European gives 400 of them, that is to say 3 against 1. Although we are more numerous than them we give much less than them as regards Defense. Moreover, and it is very important, these figures do not reflect the incredible wasting which practically results from the juxtaposition – and the existence in itself – of 27 European budgets of Defense without any coordination, since none wants to release what it manufactures. A mutualisation in the field of the manufacturing of armament could be organized but not, nothing exists except the aeronautical exception.

Admittedly, Europe does not have the same geopolitical ambitions, geostrategic that the USA, nor same philosophy concerning the role of the force in the management of the business of the world, but, at comparable economic power, becomes the variation of the strategic capacities between them and us, over the years, abyssal, because it increases each year. It is the major explanation to the political absence of influence of Europe in the world even where our interests are very directly engaged since the night of times, as with the Middle-East for example. In fact the European governments are responsible for this situation and not the Americans.

I already raised some ambiguities in connection with Europe, but two actors have a particularly ambiguous behavior concerning European Defense : the United Kingdom, on the one hand, and the USA on the other hand.

In 1998, a great meeting, at the Presidential level, took place in Saint-Malo, between the English and the French. It led so that the Agreements of Saint-Malo were called. We believed, then, that the United Kingdom was going finally to join the Continent, to release its mooring ropes in addition to the Atlantic and to become finally a good European. It is not true. The English do not think that of the whole. Since the entry of the United Kingdom in Europe, in 1972, (one would have made well, moreover, not to make it enter, as de Gaulle opposed it moreover ;  it had pushed back its entry twice), and until 1998, the English always refused any implication of the question of Defense in the sphere of activity of the European Community. At the time of the Treaty of Amsterdam, in 1997, the English refused any idea to integrate the WEU, Sleeping Beauty about which I spoke presently, in the structures of EUROPE. For this reason I consider that Saint-Malo is not a conversion, but an extremely pragmatic choice. Moreover the English are always pragmatic and they are right. They wanted to make sure the leadership in the field of Defense which, in their eyes, and they are right undoubtedly, will remain very a long time still intergovernmental and not Community. As they do not want to hear of the Community one, when ballast should be released, well they release ballast in the field of the intergovernmental one, whose Defense will undoubtedly remain the last bastion. The quotations that I deliver to you, English political characters, are clear, in particular that of Mr. Douglas ALEXANDER, Minister in charge for the European Business under the government of BLAIRE.  In 2006, he said : “I do not believe in the political identity of Europe. I worry even about the importance given to the symbols of Europe, his flag, his anthem, which are likely to accredit the idea of a strong political identity.” Mr. Gordon Brown, current the Prime Minister said, in an article of the World of March 2007, in the form of question mark : “is the European Union still useful between the Nations and the globalized World ?” Mr. BLAIR had exactly the same design of Europe and I am content that it did not become the President and that Mr. VAN RAMPUY was preferred to him. I do not make a lawsuit, one does not make a lawsuit in the field of geopolitics, one makes reports and I as opposed to what note that we will not make Europe of Defense, for the moment, with the English and besides we will not make Europe very runs with the English, a certain political fashion in France could give rise to think. However I do not say that a day the English will not transfer an edge and will not become Europeans even burning than all the others, as it is POLYEUCTE, for example, in the classical theatre, this new convert who breaks much more idols per day than all the true believers of all their life. The English are like that, they will not be changed and it is not necessary that they are changed because one needs them as they are. They are of an extreme pragmatism which led them to decolonize brutally, without worrying about the consequences, and engaging in useless wars as those which we led, us, in Algeria and Indo-China for example. Let us not transform them, by our blindness, in Trojan horse, which they are already, coming to put the disorder in Europe that we try to build so painfully.

The USA, today yesterday – and there too it is not that a report – regard as self-explanatory controls strategic Europe to them, opinion reinforced still today by their vision rather turned towards Asia, in particular China. They thus require that Europe does not pose a problem to them and that it remains under their strategic control, in one way or another. Some quotations will clarify this attitude. Mrs Condoleezza Rice, Foreign Minister, Secretary of State of Mr BUSH, said in 2001, at the moment when it took her job (it would perhaps not have said that a little later) : “We work, us today American, via NATO, to forge Europe for which our large fathers and our fathers fought in two world wars”, or “the enormous work which remains to be made to build Europe that we want, us, American.” In other words : remain calm, you, European, one can make, one already came twice because of your civil wars, therefore one will continue. In its book “the large chess-board”, (if you did not read it, read it), BRESINSKI, a large advisor in America, said : “The spinal column of the European security will have to extend from France in the Ukraine because Europe is the head of bridge of the democracy”, i.e. Europe is the head of bridge of our American Democracy. It is a vision centered on the USA by which one should not be astonished. The knowledge is needed, quite simply. A little further, it said : “if the transatlantic links, between America and Europe, distended, supremacy of America in Europe would have been finished some.” One could think that the arrival of Mr OBAMA will change that. Admittedly there will be considerable interior changes, in particular with the 30 million people who will be able to reach the care, without making the tail. In the foreign policy as there will be changes, Mr OBAMA will show certainly more listening with respect to its allies, less arrogance as Mr BUSH, but at the same time much more requirement ; it will be then more difficult for us to refuse what will be required of us. It should be known that the foreign politics of a as large vessel as the USA, where the Executive and the Legislature are balanced infinitely as on our premises, is equipped of more than a kind of governance. Nevertheless, in the manner of large vessels which one says that they have evil to be transferred on their wanders, the large American vessel will not change a foreign politics like that, as it would go from there from Lichtenstein or Luxembourg. And I am convinced that Mr OBAMA will continue to make use of NATO like his predecessors, to serve the American interests, to still widen NATO with I find terrible – against the European interests ; that he will want to make NATO a species of UNO (a), i.e. leaving its strictly military role completely and doing all, everywhere ; that he will be opposed, intelligently undoubtedly, with the strategic independence of Europe via the English today, and the Turks tomorrow, if one made the silly thing integrate them in Europe ; that Mr OBAMA is quite simply the President of the USA and that it will defend the interests of the United States, as it is its duty. It will thus not dismount the permanent American bases installed in Romania, in Kosovo, in Bulgaria and which constitute the outposts of the USA for its policy in Central Asia. Mr OBAMA is not a revolutionist, he is rather in the spirit of a EISENHOWER who was not a blunt conservative. When it left the business, it made an Address with the Nation condemning the complex militaro-industrialist while saying : “be wary of these types, they will take along the USA to the catastrophe. ” From his Memories I drew this sentence, that Mr OBAMA could take on his account : “There is only one manner of tackling any international problem : the UNITED STATES Initially.” The Admiral DOWAY, American hero who has, inter alia things, run what remained Spanish fleet in Bay of manille in 1884, said : “My country above all, which it has wrong or reason.” CHARLEMAGNE, NAPOLEON, de Gaulle made the same thing.

My Second part is a synthesis a little more committed.

The European defence policy is called now the Security policy and of Common Defense ; it is the new acronym which the Treaty of Lisbon retained. I told you that :

  1. Firstly, the missions had become “exotic”, i.e. very safe truly the collective defense of the territory of Europe.
  2. Secondly, there is no operational command.
  3. Thirdly, there are not Armed forces, only a kind of tank of 60000 men, with a little navy and of aviation one rounds to 100000, in whom one is judicious to prick when one needs to send people to Darfur, in Congo, etc…

European Defense it is thus 100000 men, vis-a-vis the 2 Million men under the flags in Europe, that is to say 5 % of the total of the Armed forces under the weapons today. In other words, taking into account also the extreme modesty of the missions, and the means, that we were given, European Defense does not have strictly anything to see with the Defense of Europe, which falls on NATO, i.e. with its principal contributor : the United States, at least for the 21 members of Europe who are also members of NATO. Aggravating circumstance, this species of concept which one reshuffles us the ears on the need for the complementarity between NATO on the one hand, and the European defence policy on the other hand. We should regard that as a postulate, with which it would be necessary to be pleased. Each one must play its part, its partition, without useless duplication, say the Americans, namely : with NATO, Defense, in the broad sense, and in Europe exotic missions called of Petersberg.

I consider this extremely dangerous dogma because it pushes back, without any possible doubt, the objective of the Common Defense of Europe i.e. of the strategic independence of Europe which is however registered in the texts, including the Treaty of Lisbon, which strategic independence is the condition first of political independence very short. But how can one assert, us, European, a political independence if we do not give each other means of a strategic independence ? All the Chiefs of the European governments say themselves : why should we give each other means – money – of ensuring our own destiny since NATO, i.e. the Americans, principal contributor, is in charge of this responsibility there ? Why spend more than what is strictly necessary to send 3000 men to Darfur, since we have NATO which deals with our defense ?

Thus 500 Million Europeans depends, for their defense, their security, of 300 Million Americans – and Canadians to make good measure.

The question which I installation am : what I have just said is politically acceptable, for Controlling which would be truly persons in charge ? Aren’t they literally scandalous to make depend the destiny on 500 Million Europeans of the good will of 300 Million Americans ?  The problem does not arise differently. You will tell me that you understand, but that during 45 years of cold war one is very well adapted of that, that they are the Americans who released us, which defended us, which built the tool of the cold war and which led the Russians to stop. Admittedly, but I would tell you that they are other time ; Europe left the 2nd completely bloodless world war, and the Americans, from the economic point of view, largely benefitted from it. However, today it is finished. We have 12000 Mlds of GDP, like them ; we are as rich as them. Why would it be necessary that we continue to depend on them ? At the time of the war and cold war, our interests were the same ones since it was a question of preventing the Soviet Union from coming “to make drink their tanks”, if I dare the metaphor, with the La Rochelle. But maintaining our interests and theirs do not cease diverging and, consequently, this concept of common defense is vitiated at the base. I will add that the designs of Europeans on the one hand, and the Americans on the other hand, on the world governance in particular, appear increasingly incompatible to me. We, European, in my opinion, we cannot accept any more this myth, which is spread out in all the newspapers, of America : the nation “necessary” i.e. that which has the divine mission to bring in the world the humanistic freedom, democracy, and values. I consider, me, that this Wilsonnien myth continues to be carried by OBAMA as by her predecessors, and as of its speech of nomination, he said : “We are ready to be once again those which show the way in the world” But which way ? The design of the United States of the use of the force in the regulation of the business of the world appears to me, for example, for us, European, completely unacceptable. I would not say that the Americans are the rough ones, because I know the American army well, but they have a military power, without precede in the world, and who is not at all in the process of retract, so formidable that they cannot not use it with excess. I would say from Dresden in Hiroshima, to Afghanistan, not to go back to the Indians, it was thus. When the Americans want to make the opening of Avranches for Division PATTON, they make a carpet of bombs on 15 km broad by killing 30000 Norman. It is not a lawsuit, simply, when one has such a military force, one cannot not employ it. In Afghanistan – it is a prophecy – the Americans will lose, alas ! , because they are rejected and will be it always more by a population of which they claim to gain the heart. They will lose, not because they are less human than a German or French soldier, but because they are drawn up like that ; besides they do not have anything any more human with the equipment which makes disappear the catch behind all the things and the tricks which “equip them”.  I would say that it is their military culture which makes them inapt for this strategy of the heart and which will make that this war will finish badly for them, and thus for us also since one is there with them. This is why I consider that our participation in this war is a serious error. We, the French and all the others, whatever the extraordinary job which will be made by them in their corner, that will not have any weight on the final result which depends completely on the leader of the coalition, i.e. the United States. I will read you presently some extracts of a letter of a captain who returns from Afghanistan, from which I will conceal the name so that it does not have troubles, but which is rather significant. Lastly, I will say that the interests of the Americans and ours diverge, especially, and more and more, on the manner of treating with Russia. The manner of seeing of the United States is completely different from ours with regard to the Central Asia, the Moslem Soviet ex-republics, China, and especially the Large Middle East. The large BRODEL, of which I am reading again sound : “Identity of France”, which spoke much about the Mediterranean, must be turned over in its tomb, “Mare nostrum” said Latin, well the Americans were instituted the exclusive referees of the problems of the Middle East whereas they are at the same time the direct actors, at the sides of Israel. How can one at the same time be the absolute support of Israel and issue the referee of the conflict ? It is aberrant !

Once again, for me, it appears irresponsible to me to ask the United States of the major commitments which they would be unable to hold with respect to Europe, though they say of it, and even more irresponsible, and even makes indignant at the European Governments, to expect others, namely the United States, which one could assume oneself with 12000 Mlds of euros of GDP, if however we had political courage of it, i.e. that to assume our own destiny.

I am undoubtedly a little heretic on this divergence growing between the United States and inducing us this impossibility of having a common defense through NATO. Nevertheless, in addition to Sirs Alain Minc and Giscard d’Estaing who wrote in this direction it is not very a long time, it exists 2 or 3 American witnesses on this subject, of which Robert KAGAN who wrote : “Power and the weakness”, in 2003, whose 1st sentence is : “It is time to cease making like if Europe and the United States shared the same vision of the world or even if they lived on the same planet”. Patrice Higonet, professor d’ Histoire French with Harvard, French-speaking person and francophile, wrote in Le Monde of the 11/3/2004 : “We are in the moment of living a great turning in the history of this old couple – the United States/Europe – ; a divorce today appears inevitable to me”. And then I raised very recently, in Le Monde of the 11/5/2009, an article which evokes a recent study of large a think American tank, under the signature of Sirs CHAPIREAU and WHITNEY, this sentence : “Europeans maintain with the United States an infantile and fetishistic relation, nourished illusions whose first is that which the interests of the Americans and Europeans are basically the same ones, and the second is the illusion according to which the security of Europe still depends on American protection.” Controlling Europe, including ours which comes to make us return in NATO, should read the newspaper from time to time !

Logic, which seems to me primary, of my remark it is that NATO, which was a very integrated military organization, and of which we must be pleased because we gained the cold war without drawing a rifle shot, is not more what it is necessary for us today for the defense of Europe. NATO became, on the contrary, a lure for Europeans who wait of the United States, or make pretence wait of the United States, the warranty that those cannot any more give them. This is why I am very anxious ambient Atlantic tropism of this illusion of a fusional community the United States/Europe, which seems shared by the President of the Republic, the Foreign Minister, and the Secretary of State to the European Business, and that I consider that the return of France in NATO is a political misinterpretation, of which I am, with others, explained several times, vainly of course. The question today is not to know if there will be more influence in NATO than apart from NATO, but of knowing which is the best way towards a strategic independence of Europe, which by the dependence with respect to America, even if Mr SARKOZY does not pass nevertheless said : “it is out of the question to return in NATO without tangible counterparts, relating to significant progresses for European Defense”. I always expect them. Will we in June 2012 have NATO which will cease wanting, under the American influence, to be UNO (a) ? Will we have, in this NATO, which we have just reinstated, a true European pillar and not a North-American pillar and 26 European posts, which removes us any a say, obviously ? Will we have an operational Headquarters worthy of this name to lead the operations, and then, finally, will we have affirmed that we are ready to assume our own defense, even without the Americans, if it occurred that they are not ready to assume it themselves within NATO ?

I would wish, me, that France remains to the forefront of this combat for the strategic independence of Europe and that she says it high and strong but, alas ! I am not sure that it is the way which it is taking.

In a note of July 17th, 1961, the General de Gaulle wrote : “One speaks about the unit of Europe, but there cannot be personality of Europe if Europe does not have its personality from the point of view of Defense. Defense is always at the base of the policy. When one cannot defend oneself, or one is conquered by certain, or one is protected by others. It is necessary that Europe its personality thus its own Defense that wants to say that it has needs a Direction, a Plan and Means which are them his. There is NATO. What NATO ? It is the sum of the Americans, Europe and some accessories, but it is not the defense of Europe by Europe. It is the defense of Europe by the Americans.” Exactly opposite of what he said in 1954 ! I am not Gaullist, because one cannot be Gaullist while having made the war 5 years in Algeria, and to have seen how this war lamentably finished. But when I read that, I would redefine myself readily like an Gaullist-European, which is not the same thing as a nationalist Gaullist.

D.LEROY : Thank you for heat and passion for this talk. There is, I believe, much questions…

Question 1 :

Thank you for your talk. They is enthralling, you insert to us in the heart of Defense. I am for the entry of Turkey in Europe, in a very intuitive way, not as you who have a very broad vision. However you are against the entry of Turkey. It is an important entity – 80 million people compared to France, in Germany. What makes you say not ? I do not think that it is the religion, after you of having listened, and the distance of Europe is not either the crucial reason. Finally to extend itself to 43, why not ? Which limit would it be necessary to take ?

Question 2 :

I would like to say why I am AGAINST the entry of Turkey. Point out time of the Colonels in Greece. One ousted Greece, one was 18 with the Council of Europe, one passed to 17, but Turkey remained in the Council of Europe. The reason for which the Council of Europe exists it is the RESPECT OF the Human rights. However which was, at the time, in addition to Greece, the country which did not respect either the Human rights : Turkey. Look at how was solved the Cypriot question, and what it is today.

General COT :

From the moment when a State does not respect the Human rights, it does not have its place with the Council of Europe and it should not have its place within the U.E. The Turks do not respect the Human rights, and I am not sure that they want to respect them, which occurs to Cyprus is significant, and Turkey succeeded in dividing in a perennial way Cyprus. It is a scandal. However the respect of the Human rights is fundamental. If I am ready to defend Greece against Turkey within the U.E, despite everything the problems which exist and which is not solved, it is because, they, are able to say the word of CAMBRONNE to Turkey.

The entry of Turkey in Europe is a terribly complicated business, and discussed – there are at least 3 or 4 conferences, by week, on Internet on this question – and I respect those which do not share my ideas. One can give answer there only according to a certain number of convictions that one has and the answer thus varies according to these convictions. For my part, I see Europe as de Gaulle saw France, i.e. like a potential being, something which has a carnal envelope, a skin for which one needs limits. But, and all the question is there, where to place these limits so that Europe which I see rest Europe, with a certain unit of civilisation, etc. , etc…, whereas others see adhesion in Europe conditioned by the simple respect of the criteria of Maestricht, of Amsterdam, of Rome or Lisbon. Europe would be then a Club where it is enough to fill of the criteria : compliance with the Human rights, economic rules, etc… to be member. Why, consequently, not make enter New Zealand and Australia ?

I had 2 students Turkish in Rheims, into cubes, and very often, the question of the accession of Turkey was mentioned. I advanced the following sales leaflet to justify my refusal : we, we made the European Union, the Africans, with difficulty, are making a species of African Union, but, on the other hand, in this vast chaos which is the Close relation and the Middle-East, there is nothing, from where the dramas who do not go back to yesterday, that dates since the crusades. Who do you see, in this vast chaos, which State can emerge as able to federate one day this region to do of it something which would resemble an Eastern average union ? Me, I see only Turkey, taking into account his past, what it is not Arab, but of what it is Moslem. I do not see even that Turkey definitively to solve the problem of this cyst of the presence of Israel in this Middle-East. If we, European, we remove Turkey of this geostrategic region to hang up again it, with the margin, in Europe, we will take from this Middle-East any chance to federate one day around a federator State able to create something which will resemble the U.E. My matter is thus not against Turkey, but, quite to the contrary, it carries the hope that this part of the World, which remains still extremely problematic can finally a day federate. It is besides a little the turning which they are taking, while being posed like mediator, and by approaching all their neighbors. Turkey is an enormous country : on the 6 old Soviet Moslem Republics, 5 are Turkish-speaking, the links with Iran go back to the night of times, who has to better do than to integrate Europe. I do not reject Turkey, I want that it does better. It is a message of optimism.

Question 3 :

I have, I think, followed very well what you said, but there remains a question : Defense, for what ?

General COT :

It is the good question. The good soldier is that which says himself : What a chance ! I live in a time when I do not see any war at the horizon. The bad soldier is that which says : There is nothing any more to scrape in this World, one cannot tear each other to pieces more nowhere. Of course, I am delighted that, today, I do not see the beginning of the beginning of I do not know which large malicious wolf which would like to come to invade Europe. But when you look at all the dramas to which we could, we, European, being confronted since the night of times, most between them, one never saw them coming. I do not speak about ATTILA nor of GENGIS KHAN, but in 1938, in Munich, it was still convinced that HITLER was not a so bad type only that, and that it would not move. Work, not only of one soldier, but of a politician is not to bet over the good weather but to hope for the perpetual good weather, without all to bet over this perpetual good weather, because the things of the World evolve sometimes with such a brutality that it is necessary to be able to be opposed to threats stricto sensu or even to risks which one is quite unable to define them today. There are many risks of this type.

Without speaking of terrorists, there are all these famished continents – in time one spoke about the Chinese danger – and these people who come towards the “rich” countries. Well, if we are not able, us, the rich person, to occupy us of the poor, to occupy us of the health of planet, as an ecology, I do not know in which drama we will be, if not us, but at least our children or grandchildren. I think that the fact of constituting itself in a unit of 500 million Europeans, who would have common sights on the prospect for the things of this World, would undoubtedly be the good means of coping with threats which I am unable, today, of defining with exactitude.

We have all of the white globules and a whole lymphatic network which manufactures these so useful white globules constantly to fight against the microbes and the diseases. When there is no disease one keeps them nevertheless, it is more reasonable, it is the “precautionary principle”. I am for the maintenance of the “white globules” and all the question today is to diffuse this need for precaution. I am Vice President of an association which is called : “good citizenship, defense, army, nation” of which the goal is to say that we are not of Cassandre, but that this World is not sure, and, we are certain, that it is not France, all alone, Germany, all alone, or Spain which can cope with what can arrive to us. It is together that we must think of it and to organize us. The threat can take on various aspects, others that the conflicts stricto sensu. It can be the tsunami of Asia, the drama of Haiti or another thing. For the Tsunami, we were unable, us, Europeans, to engage us commonly and to send the brigade or the humane Division about which one has spoken for 20 years. In Haiti we were infoutus to engage a fast European force. All that is held. There is no more today, as regards risks and of the threats, no border between what one called formerly Civil defense, or interior risks, risks of the great catastrophes, and Defense with precise threats. We must conceive defenses, or rather safety appliances able to cope with heaps of things which one does not imagine today what they could be tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. Let us not believe that it is by lowering our guards with us completely, European, that we help ourselves best.

Question 4 :

You qualified the permanent Structures of “do-it-yourself”. I think that on the level of the governance one cannot have clear things : complexity calls complex structures, but one prevented not the other, the structures can be permanent.

I believe that the Rotating presidency was not a so bad thing insofar as each one represents a democratic current which will precisely be able, a day, to lead all the components to want a system federative, which I wish.

You evoked KAGAN which defends the force rather that the standard, but Europe it is the Standard : to give to France, UNO, all its weight, its philosophy to make pass the front Right. You also said that Defense is at the base of the Policy ; KLOVITZ said that the war is the prolongation of the policy by another manner.  You extend Defense to ecological aspects, and you are right. But which is the philosophy which is behind ? Which is your basic philosophy ? Is the war the prolongation of the policy by other means or not ? The war is not a fate but a being wrong mode of reduction of the inevitable tensions even necessary

General COT :

I am a pacifist soldier, and even kind antimilitarist ! I believe that the true objective of Humanity it is peace. I am an anti Klovitzien because Humanity it is made much evil by setting up this proverb : “the war is the prolongation of the policy by other means”, like an intangible truth. I precisely believe that the war is not the prolongation of the policy. The true policy, worthy of this name, should not precisely regard the war as a tool among others to achieve political goals, therefore I am against KLOVITZ. I am rather for the large Chinese strategists of Antiquity who considered that one could very well, if one is intelligent, if it is wanted, to gain the things without making the war. I am convinced of Progress, I am convinced that Humanity can rise towards the absolute, called the “Point Omega”, which is a theological point, but that it can also break the “mouth”. One day one asked THEILLARD of CHARDIN : “do you tell us that Humanity goes up towards the point Omega, all perfect, but how is you do put HITLER in your optimistic construction ? ” He had answered : “you know, it are as in mountain, more one rises, when one breaks the mouth, one falls from very high”. I am, like him, a reasoned optimist and, precisely, because one can break the mouth, it is necessary to be impregnated is risked.

Question 5 :

I think nevertheless that there is a lack of means. The effort of war, of defense mobilizes extraordinarily high sums, and that we enter during time when this effort of defense will be more and more disputed. In France, we have one nuclear aircraft carrier and there will not be of it a second, we are thus already in this diagram there. Part of the prosperity of Germany comes owing to the fact that it was disarmed, and devoted few efforts in this field.

Therefore, problem of means and more largely it does not have there a prospective prospect. The wars of the future will not occur to Europe. It very well is known. It will be the war of the water or that of the raw materials, or the incredible rise of China. What a European Defense in a context which spreads throughout the world and which moves basically towards the theatres of the Middle-East and Far East ? Moreover, I will say that America is not in a better situation, and moreover, it is in a phase of major contradiction. I find that your reasoning misses, at least for Europe, of means geostrategic.

General COT :

Happily, and until new order, it does not have there direct threats which aim at the territory of Europe, but we could have another ambition that whom we have today, us, European, and we could consider, with the experiment of all the civil wars that we delivered ourselves since always, that we can bring to the World much more and better than we do it.

We could bring our humanistic experiment, and, also, soldier so necessary, in all the dramas which the World currently lives. I am convinced, to have tried out it with young people, that this concept there, that I call “Europe, wise power” i.e. able to bring in the World the fruit of its personal experiences, including besides that of the found Franco-German friendship, would give us much more weight and would allow us to act with very another philosophy, of all other tools, any other manner that the USA do not do it. But the objection with that will be at once : there is 3 million unemployed and the funds miss.

It is true, but France is not the country which sabred the most in its financial means of defense, even if it nevertheless practised crowned dark cuts, whose last is in the course of application. Our actions in the World, and all the assumptions that one can imagine, will not require any more of the also sophisticated tools, and consequently as expensive, as those which we needed, against the Russians for example. We are in the moment of living a transition between military equipment very sophisticated, like the tank Leclerc, the nuclear aircraft carrier, the plane Rafale, etc…, and another type of equipment which will not be necessarily any more also demanding to go to restore the order at the fine bottom of Africa or the Middle-East. I think that there is a kind of synthesis to make between the will to act for the Good in the World and the means which, to reach that point, are more completely also expensive only they were to fight against the Soviets. You are right, I should have better said it because I believe very extremely in this role of Europe in the World. But we will not play this role if we are not more plain than are we it and if we do not have common tools, including, moreover, of the immediate tools of humane intervention. I have the weakness to believe, beyond all the domestic problems which we have, that this species of great intention of this “wise Europe” could hang an often confused and terribly individualistic youth today.

Question 6 :

I listened to you with great pleasure because I share much from your points of view. By listening to you, I often thought of Paul VALERY.  In “Glances on the World”, he had written, before the 2nd world war, “Europe aspires to being directed by an American commission”. Your demonstration on the will of the Americans to dominate Europe is perfect, it is their strategy. The problem of Europe comes from the leading elites ; they do not have European ambition, they have ambitions of protection. The French political forces are Atlantic in an obvious way, whatever their declarations. To build Europe, it is necessary to have a European ambition, which presupposes a separation with the USA, and which requires a Defense. This Defense can be adapted to a more modern war, an asymmetrical war, etc… it is true. But for that, it would be necessary that the French leaders are convinced of the thing. I met a future would-be presidential candidate, Socialist, who considered that Russia was not Europe, but “De Gaulle spoke about Europe active of the Ural in the Atlantic” I said him. He looked at me as if I left old times and said : “I wanted to say that people are European who take part in a European election.” “Isn’t Switzerland thus in Europe according to you ?” This dialogue illustrates the big problem of Europe, folded up on itself and not perceived like an entity able to play a significant role, and without means to carry it out.

One much also speaks about Far East. I belonged to the 1st delegation which was in China in 1965. One realized of the cards that there was to play, and one gave up them. It is necessary to be worthy of its ambitions, the ambitions pass by the elites and the elites must be convinced.

General COT :

Do you know the parameters of Eurobaromètre ? If you consult eurobaromètres, you note that Europeans as such are much burning for Europe than are to it their Governments. All questions like :

Are you for a European army ? For a single seat of permanent representative at the Security Council ? The answer is YES.

What you say is capital : they are not the citizens of Europe who put sticks in the wheels, they are people who control us. The slogan, of much of European Countries, on “Europe which protects”, is afflicting. Me, I do not want Europe which protects, I want of Europe which radiates. Chirac, at the end of her “reign” had said, in a private conversation : “today the visionaries are tired”.  They are not tired, it does not have there more. Find me : MONNET, Of GASPERI, SCHUMAN, Paul Henri SPAAK. People who carry Europe in their heart and their heart do not exist. There are only people who want to protect themselves and even make reappear nationalism while helping themselves for that of Europe, even by sowing the disorder there.

Question 7 :

I have doubts about the adequacy between the ambition of the army, his utility, and the armament (aircraft carrier, Rafale…) vis-a-vis the missions which one gave oneself, in particular humane. One did nothing in Europe and in fact the aircraft carriers will do that. Currently the French Army deals with the Somali question. Did one make well go to Afghanistan ? Is this a mission of the Army ? And if it is a mission of the Army, one will be able to do it with the armament ? I wonder how one can see the Army led to this “thing”. It is not obvious whole.

General COT :

One of the solutions, if I am your reasoning until the end, would be to remove the army. Why not ? Costa Rica does not have any. It is another subject. Mr. OBAMA said that its general final objective would be to remove the nuclear armament in the World. If it does it, I will say CHEER ! It would be necessary that we, the French and the English, put also our armament at the rencart. But it is difficult to do that before they did it. A World without army it is perhaps conceivable, but it is as if you say that one can imagine a justice without gendarmes. However to introduce criminals in front of a judge, it is necessary to catch them, make surveys, etc… Can same manner, when in the World of potentates of any hair massacre with sucker their own population as they did in Rwanda, in Yugoslavia, in Somalia and elsewhere, how one, if there is the will of it, stop the arm of the massacror, if there are not the tools adapted to do it ? One cannot only send Doctors without borders or of ONG of Catholic aid. If we had been organized in the World, we could have stopped Pol Pot, MILOSEVIC and others well before the massacres are perpetrated, I know what I speak, in particular in Bosnia. A World without army and gendarme is an idyllic myth.

Question 8 :

But with which weapons ?

General COT :

With other weapons that those with which one fought against the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union, it is a certainty. We need, today of more than men and less large equipment. To have, on our premises, of the extraordinary tanks and tanks etc. would be excessive and superfluous for operations like those of Afghanistan or Darfur, for example. There is a great inertia in all that and the equipment built before the fall of the Berlin Wall, in 1989, still has 30 years of life. Thus we do not put it at the dustbin but we do not build any more the same one. One builds lighter armoured tanks, etc… If that can reassure you, one understood many things and one adapts, us, the soldiers.


You did not read the letter of the Captain of Afghanistan. Could it be a good conclusion, you do not believe ?

General COT :

My promotion of Saint-Cyr military school is called Diên Biên Phu. We took as godsons, 2 years ago, of the young people who left Saint-Cyr military school and one of these godsons, who returned from Afghanistan, a young Captain, who ordered a hundred men, sent a letter to one of my comrades to tell him what it thought of Afghanistan. I read you some extracts without revealing his name :

“I wonder about 2 points.

  1. the Americanization of the hierarchy. The Americans hold all the positions – keys, which is normal, taking into account the level of their commitment (except for the English which succeeds in drawing their pin from the game). Our opinion with us, French, is neglected in decision makings, the risk of this process is that our troops are involved in a war which they do not control, with objectives and methods which are not ours. In fact, we undergo this war, we are constrained to subject to us to the will of the others i.e. Americans.
  2. The second point it is the new strategy of the Americans. It is not a question any more of convincing the insurrectionists, the priority maintaining is to gain the hearts and the spirits of the population according to the devoted formula. However we will never be made like, we will be able to have allies of circumstance, because we are powerful but we will remain always the occupying foreigner “

I add, me which know well what the French in Afghanistan make, that the French make an extraordinary job and that, they, are made like. They can make. It is atavism but that does not have any importance because we are not called, not more the French that the Americans, to remain in Afghanistan. We will return, but it is necessary that the Afghan Government, and all the Administration which is around, stops carnage. It is them which must be made like, not us. But there, it is even more despairing which in Asia. Mr. SARKOZY said, during his countryside : “It is not significant that we remain in Afghanistan.” But as he wanted to please the Americans, he added men.

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