France will have to win a battle of values and ethics if it wants to eradicate the terrorist threat. In an opinion piece published today, 21 March, by French daily Le Figaro, French Army chief of stafff, General Jean-Pierre Bosser, writes of the importance of waging an immaterial battle in parallel to the war against terrorism. He implies that the “unrealistic ambition” to physically destroy the enemy, as has been advocated thus far, should make way for a “real project for society” founded on resistance and national unity.
“Victory”, a notion the general suggests should be “given greater consideration,” can only occur and take root when we have durably prevailed over the adversary “in every area in which he is opposing us.” So, even if the physical side of the war, that is to say the military action, is now under control by the French armed forces, the “ethics” aspect remains to be dealt with. And this is a battlefield where the enemy has been “extremely clever” because the “values he offers” are seductive. A better offer must therefore be made, because “it is by reversing the battle of wills that we might win the battle of values,” the general writes.
And why not propose military values as an alternative to win this “war of ideas,” he hints, believing that the ground in which these values could take root is already prepared. “I see, in the eyes of the thousands of youngsters enrolled in the Army whom I have now been meeting for two years, a desire to serve and to belong to a group that is bigger than they are,” he remarks, adding that these youngsters “have found in the army a collective project, values, a meaning to their lives.” The recruitment of 20,000 youngsters in both the active and reserve sections of the army, the launch of the Voluntary Military Service and the reassuring presence of operation Sentinelle [deployed in France to protect sensitive sites] confirm that the French army has already started this “decisive….battle for victory which must be the centrepoint of all the nation’s efforts.”