• France edition
 
Hollande 'echoes Bush' in tough anti-terror talk
French president Francois Hollande standing to attention for 'La Marseillaise' in Abu Dhabi, UAE on January 15th. Photo: Bertrand Langlois/AFP

Hollande 'echoes Bush' in tough anti-terror talk

Published: 17 Jan 2013 08:48 GMT+01:00
Updated: 17 Jan 2013 08:48 GMT+01:00

As French warplanes carry out airstrikes and French troops clash with Islamist rebels in the West African country, Hollande and his ministers seem to have taken a page from former US president George W. Bush's playbook on war-time communications.

This has led some critics to accuse the government of carrying out a propaganda war alongside the fighting on the ground.

Hollande and his chief lieutenants - Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius - have been ubiquitous on French television and radio, giving regular updates on France's military progress.

Their language has been simple, direct, and clearly designed to portray the conflict in black-and-white.

"The use of language is calibrated: the cause is just, a fight against terrorism, us/them, good/bad. These are the fundamentals of war-time communication," said Francois-Bernard Huyghe, a researcher at the Paris-based Institute of International and Strategic Relations.

In a speech during a visit to the United Arab Emirates, Hollande pulled no punches in describing France's mission, saying: "What do we plan to do with the terrorists? Destroy them."

His words seemed to echo not only Bush but also Russian officials who have repeatedly vowed to "liquidate terrorists" in their fight against insurgents in Chechnya and other parts of the volatile North Caucasus region.

"Hollande is being simple and soldierly," Huyghe said, noting that the communications effort has so far been largely successful, with a poll
Wednesday showing three-quarters of French supporting the intervention.

"Faster even than the outbreak of the war, France's propaganda war was launched at supersonic speed," noted influential French media critic Daniel Schneidermann.

'Hollande copying Bush'

French media reported that ministers have been banned from using the words "Islamist fighters" in statements on the conflict and must always refer to rebels as "terrorists".

Officials have often gone further, with Le Drian referring to "jihadi terrorists" and Fabius to "terrorists and criminals". "This is approaching Bush's rhetoric and it's bizarre from the mouth of a Socialist", Huyghe said, noting that "excessive use of the word 'terrorist' is aimed at presenting the opponent as evil and inhuman."

He said branding the rebels "terrorists" was a simplification of the situation of Mali, where at least three distinct Islamist groups - Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) and Ansar Dine (Defenders of the Faith) - are fighting.

"Reducing them simply to terrorists is too easy, it erases the complexity of the problem, obscures the reality," Huyghe said. Critics said the branding operation could eventually hurt peace efforts by making it impossible for France to justify negotiations with any of the Islamist groups.

Hollande "is condemning himself to exclusively being able to speak to the current government in Mali, which is the result of a putsch... and is seen as completely illegitimate by the public," news website Mediapart wrote.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
French Socialist party rift breaks into war of words
President François Hollande's first government feel a long time ago, with ousted ministers now in an open war of words with Socialist Party chiefs. Photo: AFP

French Socialist party rift breaks into war of words

Splits plaguing France's ruling party came to the fore on Wednesday as ousted ministers and allies of embattled President Francois Hollande engaged in a very public war of words. READ  

Paris Opera lays down rules over Muslim veils
Paris Opera has reminded staff not to allow anyone enter the building if their face is covered. Photo: Panoramas/Flickr - Miguel Medina/AFP

Paris Opera lays down rules over Muslim veils

The management at Paris Opera have issued a memo to staff not to allow entry to anyone whose face is covered. It comes after a Muslim woman was asked to leave a performance of La Traviata earlier this month after she was spotted wearing a niqab face veil. READ  

Calais: Mass migrant fight leaves dozens hurt
The migrant crisis in Calais is becoming increasingly violent and disruptive. Photo: AFP

Calais: Mass migrant fight leaves dozens hurt

Tensions were high in Calais on Tuesday night after police were forced to seal off a district in the port town after a mass brawl between migrants from Ethiopia and Eritrea, left dozens injured. READ  

Paris: Luxury hotel staff strike for better pay
A protester joins members of the CGT union gathering on October 7, 2014 in front of the Royal Monceau hotel. Photo: Joel SAget

Paris: Luxury hotel staff strike for better pay

A rebellion among hotel workers at some of Paris's luxury hotels continued this week with staff at the deluxe Royal Monceau-Raffles - where the presidential suite costs €25,000 a night - staging a walk-out to protest over their low wages. READ  

Champions League
Cavani rescues PSG with later winner in Cyprus
Edinson Cavani rescues PSG with a late winner in Cyprus on Tuesday. Photo: Jack Guez/AFP

Cavani rescues PSG with later winner in Cyprus

Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani rescued Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday as his solo strike with three minutes remaining was enough to defeat Apoel Nicosia 1-0 after the Cypriots dominated for large periods of the match. READ  

Profile
French suicide: 'Racist' author taps into malaise
A French right-wing author's new book is selling lots and lots of copies, but why? Photo: Pierre Verdy/AFP

French suicide: 'Racist' author taps into malaise

A controversial new book by French polemicist Eric Zemmour is flying off the shelves and shows no sign of stopping. The notorious right-wing writer and polemicist appears to have struck a chord with a French public feeling disillusioned and "lost". READ  

'We need to tell migrants the UK is not El Dorado'
UK Ambassador to France Sir Peter Ricketts with Queen Elizabeth at a garden party in Paris this summer. Photo: Martin Bureau/AFP

'We need to tell migrants the UK is not El Dorado'

The UK Ambassador to France Sir Peter Ricketts has weighed into the ongoing Calais migrants crisis by saying “Migrants need to be told that Britain is not El Dorado." READ  

CEO's plane crash due to 'criminal negligence'
Images taken from a 3D video reconstruction of the plane crash by Russian media Life News.

CEO's plane crash due to 'criminal negligence'

The Moscow air crash that killed Total's CEO Christophe de Margerie was caused by "criminal negligence" on the part of senior airport officials, Russian investigators said on Tuesday. Initial reports said the driver of a snow plough that collided with the plane had been drunk. READ  

France's Socialist rebels refuse to back budget
Rebels in France's Socialist Party have refused to back the government's 2015 budget in a parliamentary vote. Photo: AFP

France's Socialist rebels refuse to back budget

A group of rebels in France’s ruling Socialist Party flexed their muscles on Tuesday by refusing to back the government’s 2015 budget in a parliamentary vote. It's another sign of a growing split in President François Hollande's party. READ  

French docs develop 'high speed' Ebola test
French doctors say they have created a Photo: Pascal Guyot/AFP

French docs develop 'high speed' Ebola test

As fears over Ebola continue to grow, French researchers announced on Tuesday they have developed a simple test that could detect the deadly disease in 15 minutes. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
Ten changes that would make learning French so much easier
Culture
IN PICTURES: 'Glass ship' Vuitton ready to set sail in Paris
International
How a giant 'sex toy' earned an American artist a slap in Paris
National
'Unlike in the US the French don't put the blame on the poor'
Gallery
Cover up and don't be too Latin: French travel warnings for the US
Society
Macholand: The online uprising against sexism in France
Gallery
In pictures: The daily life of the 2,000 migrants in Calais
Culture
Erotic promo video earns the Musée d'Orsay our "Only in France" award
International
'I love the UK, but I could die getting there': Struggles of Calais migrants
National
Seven reasons why everyone should work in a bar in France
National
The cost of expat home comforts: How France compares to Europe
International
Why don't Calais migrants stay in France? The Local went to find out
National
What are the pros and cons of working as an au pair in France?
Society
Is France's generous welfare state about to get a little stingier?
Gallery
Extraordinary images of ordinary life in the poor Paris suburbs
Gallery
10 things expats love and loathe about life in France
National
So why don't many women in France breastfeed?
National
'Stop bashing La Belle France' - French PM tells UK press
International
UK warns Brits of 'high threat' from terrorism' in France
National
VIDEO: 'The Kama Sutra is not a dirty little text'
National
What Rome could teach Paris and vice versa
Gallery
What do foreign countries warn their citizens about when visiting France?
Gallery
IN IMAGES: Eiffel Tower opens new glass floor above Paris
Society
Is it really better to grow old in the UK and the US rather than France?
Gallery
It's that time if the year again: French sportsmen reveal (almost) all
Gallery
So what do the French find really weird about Anglos?
Travel
Paris museums to open seven days a week but unions are not happy
Culture
Caption contest: What happened when Jay Z met Sark O?
International
This explains why the French never seem to get a sense of déjà vu?
National
VIDEO: Here's a view from the Eiffel Tower you haven't seen before
Travel
Do Paris's iconic rooftops deserve Unesco World Heritage status?
Opinion
'France cannot reform, the pilots' strike showed us this'
National
'We just don’t work hard enough in France.' Is that true?
International
France has moved to beef up security in various public places
National
Hiking naked in France does not come risk-free
Culture
10 French customs that confuse Anglos
National
IN PICTURES: A look inside France's 'most notorious' prison
International
Isis urges killing of 'spiteful, dirty' French
National
Paris installs new device to stop 'love lock' craze
National
Paris cabby dies in vicious high-heel attack
National
'Paris is a sexy city, its beauty is inspiring'
Culture
Depardieu: ‘I drink 14 bottles of booze a day’
National
Top French chefs want banned bird on menu
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

652
jobs available