France is suddenly very active in African conflicts, with major military interventions in Libya and the Ivory Coast.
French forces have long been involved in the Ivory Coast and in other west African nations where France arguably still has neocolonial relationships. But, France is now intervening directly to topple Laurent Gbagbo.
French policy toward Libya has changed radically following the outbreak of civil warfare there. France, which had had a policy of rapprochement with Libya recently, has taken the lead in NATO and in airstrikes on Qaddafi’s forces. Policy analysts have varying explanations for France’s new military activity, including: humanitarian impulses, strategic imperatives, NATO leadership, defense policy, international arms marketing, masculine posturing, and Nicholas Sarkozy’s electoral campaign.
The New York Times published an article discussing these issues. NPR covers the role of the Armée de l’Air, or French Air Force, which has been leading the NATO airstrikes in Libya. Reuters reports on how the French airstrikes showcase its Rafale and Mirage fighters for the international arms market. For broader coverage of French intervention in Libya and the Ivory Coast in French language, see Le Monde and Liberation online.