Take a world map. Place on it French interests – including the metropole – and the various areas of high terrorist activity – militarily of low intensity – and you will see how in recent years the threat has focused progressively and increasingly hard on them. While many factors explain, more or less, why France is a prime target, there remains underneath something like a floating in the general analytical process.
As if a number or a letter was missing from the equation and that available data to date was ultimately insufficient to explain why France, specifically France, and no other countries like Great Britain, Germany or even the United States was being attacked from all sides.
Certainly geographical proximity, inadequate immigration policy, failure of integration instead of assimilation, military and diplomatic involvement abroad, way of life of France indeed contribute – but less than one imagines considering the deep ideological roots of the terrorist threat – to France’s exposure. However, one struggles to explain why, in fact, such relentlessness and violence are being exerted against France. If Europe as a whole is being affected by terrorism, it is France that is paying the highest toll by far; in threats as well as in the concretization of those threats. The same is true in economic and diplomatic matters, France has for a decade been under the intelligent attack of very powerful forces which seem to aim at dismantling or at least at weakening France durably.
Without lapsing into chauvinist paranoia, it is clear that France attracts a variety of threats and tensions that jeopardize both its political institutions and national unity. Yes the lack of willingness of its elected politicians, its difficulties to reform or the sensitive mistakes of its social, economic and education policies participate in the weakness of a great Nation that has become a potentially “easier” target than others. Considered as the land the most conducive to the great civilizational conflagration sought by terrorists, France has for some time become the main battlefield of the early 21st century. But one question remains however, who is holding such big grudges against France? Who could benefit from seeing it both sinking and collapsing? We do not have the answer yet and it is sometimes hard to believe that terrorists can wage by themselves such well-planned often invisible and deliberately violent war.
Even if one rejects conspiracy theory, one finds out that France is today in a unique situation in the Western world. France has suffered for the last twenty months from a terrorist lethality that places it in the leading group of countries most affected by terrorism like Pakistan, Afghanistan or Somalia. The French economy certainly suffers from structural problems, but it is like being muffled by a European system that will actually forgive it nothing although it is one of its two main engines. France may not be only “at war with terrorism”, against France a war has been declared which sometimes seems far more difficult to define or to delimit as a “simple” terrorist issue, no matter how violent.
From that perspective, perhaps France should actually switch to a real state of war in view of two main objectives: identification of the enemy (or enemies), definitive treatment of the enemy (or enemies). This war is not just a war, it looks like a total war and therefore requires total posture, at least as a precaution while France takes the time it needs for a full assessment of the situation.